[UPDATED 10/11/18 – see the bottom of this post]
OK, so we’ve all heard of MoviePass, yes? It’s the hot new thing in movie watching, or the death of cinemas as we know it – depending on who you ask. It is, basically, a service that lets people watch a lot of movies at the movie theater for a ridiculously small amount of money per month. As of now (and these numbers and conditions will likely change), this is what MoviePass gives you.
- For $6.95/month…
- you can watch one standard movie (not IMax, not 3D) a day…
- at most movie theaters.
This is an amazing deal for the consumer, obviously. It is verging on the too-good-to-be-true.
The cinema owners have concerns. And these are here.
I signed up for MoviePass. I signed my wife up. I signed my son up. Because I usually buy the movie tickets and around $30/month for all of us would save me a small fortune.
And then we did…nothing. Because, although it’s a great deal, it doesn’t fit in to how we watch movies. These were the reasons
we I canceled our cards:
- You can’t book ahead – you can only book your ticket when you’re standing at the theater. If you want to see [insert latest Marvel blockbuster here, people] on opening night at a popular theater, you’re likely not seeing it with MoviePass.
- You can’t book online either.
- You can only book one ticket. So three people need three cards. And you’re booking your own seat. Want to sit together? Better be quick.
- No 3D, no IMAX. OK, I’m over 3D. As a wearer of glasses, adding 3D specs on top of those is not comfortable. And 3D is blurry as hell. It ruined Pacific Rim for me and I’ve not seen a 3D movie since. But IMAX? Some movies need IMAX. My favorite movies of last year – Dunkirk and Blade Runner 2047 – came to life in IMAX. You will take IMAX from my cold, dead hand.
So, MoviePass is an amazing deal. But we didn’t use it for the entire month we had it. Because it doesn’t do movies like we do movies.
And then, while I was filling in time in my playboy lifestyle wandering down a YouTube rabbit hole, I saw a video comparing MoviePass to Sinemia. I’d never heard of Sinemia. YOu’ve probably not heard of Sinemia. Sinemia is, frankly, a silly word. But as a service, it sounded fascinating. This is what you get with Sinemia.
- For $30.99/month…
- You and a friend/partner/stalker/possessed spirit can see three movies. That’s six tickets/three movies.
- One of those movies can be a “premier movie” – that’s icky 3D or awesome IMAX.
- You can order ahead and you can order online.
I signed up. Well, first I googled to make sure it was a real thing. And then I signed up. Just for me. Because Sinemia lets you buy two tickets per movie. So, I can take along a friend. Or a spouse. Or a college student who spends his own money in as-yet mysterious ways.
I’ve been using the service for a month and so far, so good. It works as advertised, although it does feel like there’s still some wrinkles to iron out. The YouTube reviewer said that the app is a little hard to work and he’s right. It’s not hard-hard; it’s just not as intuitive as it could be. Not as intuitive as MoviePass, you could say…but then it is doing more.
There’s also a weird thing where, although I’ve bought my ticket (through Fandango, since you asked) and it’s there on my phone, Sinemia still insists I check in when I get to the theater. What happens if I don’t? Do they cancel my ticket even though I’ve had it scanned and I’m now sitting in my seat? I have no idea, and I don’t have the scientific spirit to experiment and find out. The first time I checked in on the app – sitting at the Alamo watching A Wrinkle in Time, because I am A Good Husband – I got an error message. But no one threw us out and it’s worked fine since. But still, the app could be smoother.
And parts of the website seem to need to be updated to reflect the fact that you can order online. Maybe this part of their service is new. I don’t know. But, Sinemia, please work on your interfaces.
One month in, my wife and I have seen two movies (A Wrinkle in Time and A Fantastic Woman) and I’ve taken my son along to a third (Annihilation). So, that’s basically four free tickets for the price of two paid-for tickets. It’s a service that works well for us. We don’t want to drive out to a theater and hope we can get seats when we get there. We don’t want to pay separately, out of my own pocket, for IMAX movies. We want to plan ahead, pay online, and show up. Although Sinemia isn’t the amazing price that MoviePass is, it’s still a bargain; and it works for how we watch movies.
If anything changes, I’ll let you know.
I still think the deal is a good one, but personally I found two problems with Sinema. The first is that, personally, having a card that I felt I had to use every month started to feel like a weight in my pocket. I didn’t want to think that I had to go to the movies so I was getting my money’s worth. My favorite social spot is my sofa, with my wife and my dogs. Something that feels like it’s forcing me away from that location gradually starts to make me a little resentful. But, if you’re looking to be at the movies regularly, then it still makes sense. Second, I had a glitch with the app twice in a row. I made a reservation, the app reported an error, but the reservation counted as part of my monthly allocation. I was helped out by the help department both times, but I lost my ticket to the movie I wanted to see. I’m sure we could have worked out what was going wrong and fixed it, but by that time I’d decided having a movie pass card wasn’t for me.
And who the hell knows what’s happening with MoviePass?