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    MoviePass 2.0 Is On The Way, And I Can’t Wait To See If It Actually Survives This Time

    “They alienated some of their loyal customers, including people who had signed up much, much earlier on. I can't imagine that the brand name feels trustworthy.”

    On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed MoviePass. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!

    Listen to BuzzFeed Daily on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever else you might listen to your favorite podcasts!

    So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to BuzzFeed News’ Katie Notopoulos about the impending return of MoviePass. Here's some of what we learned:

    BuzzFeed Daily: You did a lot of coverage about MoviePass back when it essentially imploded a few years ago. Can you give us a quick recap of what exactly MoviePass is, and what happened to it?

    emojipedia / MoviePass

    Katie Notopoulos: So the idea seemed simple and great and easy: You buy this monthly pass for the low, low price of $10 a month, and you can essentially have unlimited movie tickets for it. And if this sounds too good to be true, it obviously was. This was not a financially sound plan. The idea with any sort of subscription service like this is, best-case scenario, it's kind of like a gym membership, where the people who go very often are balanced out by the people who pay the full month's membership, but only show up once. The problem was that so many people were just abusing this system because it was so easy. One of the things I wrote about was a bunch of people who had really just gone HAM on it. They would walk by a movie theater and say, "I really gotta use the bathroom" and they would just use their app to buy a ticket and go and use the bathroom, not even to see the movie. People were always flouting the rules. 

    And so there was this brief period where the business seemed great and it was this hot stock and people were thinking, Wow, this MoviePass is really picking up steam. It's got this loyal fan base. Lots of people are loving it. They're buzzing about it. They're talking about it. People are signing up all the time. 

    And then there was the fall. The stock price cratered once people realized, Oh my god, this is never going to make money, it's not going to work. And along that fall, it was plagued with a bunch of problems. One thing that the company did was secretly throttle the number of tickets people could get. It would purposely make the app buggy, so people were trying to get their tickets and couldn't because there were all these weird bugs and quirks and it wasn't really working. 

    And there are tons and tons of customer service problems. People signed up and were waiting for their passes to get activated, but they weren't getting activated for months and months. It was just a mess. And eventually, the company essentially went belly up and we are back to a world in which we have to pay for our movie tickets.

    BuzzFeed Daily: I think most of us thought that was pretty much the end of MoviePass, especially since so many movie theaters — including big chains like Regal and AMC — launched their own subscription plans. But then earlier this month, one of the original co-founders, Stacy Spikes, announced he was resurrecting MoviePass. What was your initial reaction when you heard that news?

    Dimitrios Kambouris

    KN: It was a little bit like that meme of a crab holding a cigarette being like, "Haven't heard that name in a long time." 

    Right now, the movie theater business is so confusing, right? The pandemic has completely obliterated everything that we thought we knew about how this business operates. And just before that, MoviePass had really unsettled things. And in the interim, one of the things that happened during the pandemic was all these big streaming platforms started doing big releases on streaming at the same time as theatrical releases, which really hurt the theaters, but the theaters were closed. So I don't know what MoviePass in 2022 could look like. Maybe it would work.

    BuzzFeed Daily: Why do you think it could work?

    KN: I think it could work if movie theaters are having such a problem getting butts in seats that they are willing to take massive discounting to encourage people to come back to the theaters, essentially. If part of the hurdle right now is people are either scared because of COVID still...plenty of them might have said, "Well, I have everything I need on streaming. I don't need to go to that theater." So it could be a good way to incentivize people to come back. 

    I think the most passionate movie fans — the people who were really seeing five movies a month — I bet those people are already going back [to theaters]. I have friends who just love the theater experience. They've been going to movies since the theaters have reopened, essentially.

    BuzzFeed Daily: It is hard, the timing of it because on the one hand, maybe it's a good idea to get more people in the seats. But, as you said, we're in a pandemic right now, and a lot of people aren't going back, especially with the streaming and stuff. So, on the other hand, do you think it's brave or foolhardy to relaunch a movie subscription service that already failed, in the middle of a pandemic?

    Photo of people at a movie theater wearing face masks
    Mixmedia / Getty Images

    KN: I think...it can be both brave and foolhardy. There's no reason it can't be both. I mean, I think it's both. I am very curious to see what happens. I think everybody who enjoys movies and culture wants the theater business to succeed. There are plenty of people who maybe don't go to the movies as often as they used to because Netflix is more convenient. But those people still want movies and theaters to be profitable because movie theaters being profitable means that movies are profitable, which means that more movies can get made, which means that you can watch more movies. It's a stack of dominos, and movie theaters being profitable is a piece of it.

    BuzzFeed Daily: So, in 2017 MoviePass lowered its subscription price to $10 a month, which led to the now-infamous surge of everyone in the country getting it and seeing as many movies as possible, which ultimately tanked the company. A lot of those subscribers were new, but some of them had been with the app for a long time (including one of our producers who signed up back in 2013). But after that whole debacle, it felt like the MoviePass brand was destroyed. Do you think people will trust it again after what happened last time?

    KN: I think that the MoviePass brand, as you say, is not a trustworthy brand name to people. For anyone who had MoviePass, there is probably this weird fondness of, "Hey, remember, we're getting away with that crazy scam?" because I think anyone who used it knew it was a little bit of a scam. The numbers didn't work. Everyone who was using it was like, "I love this because I'm kind of getting something for free."

    Considering how bad the customer service issues got... you know, they were sort of changing prices. They were imposing arbitrary limits towards the end that weren't clearly communicated to people who had signed up. They alienated some of their loyal customers, including people who had signed up much, much earlier on. I can't imagine that the brand name feels trustworthy.

    We also talked about Tom Holland feeling insecure about his height, to the point that he used to have certain tricks for looking taller on red carpets.

    Tom Holland in a brown velvet suit and red sunglasses smiling at the camera
    Michael Tran / AFP via Getty Images

    Tom, who is 5’8”, said he’d not only use shoe lifts, but also stand closer to photographers than other people taking photos with him.

    Now, he doesn’t worry so much about his height, preferring to focus on things he can control, like putting on muscle.

    Plus, in case you somehow missed it, Adele’s new album 30 is out, and it’s already getting rave reviews — though maybe not from Gen Z.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    In a recent interview with Apple Music, Adele revealed that while recording the album, the topic of making sure her music would end up on TikTok kept coming up, but she wasn’t interested in that.

    She said: "As we were wrapping it up with the mixing and all that, the conversation of TikTok came up a lot," she said. "So I'm like, Tik-a-Tok-a-Who? They're like, We’ve really gotta make sure that these 14-year-olds know who you are. I'm like, But they've all got moms. They've all got moms and they've definitely been growing up listening to my music, these 14-year-olds and stuff like that.

    If everyone's making music for the TikTok, who's making music for my generation? Who's making the music for my peers? I will do that job, gladly.

    I'd rather cater to people that are on my level in terms of the amount of time we’ve spent on Earth and all the things we’ve been through. I don't want 12-year-olds listening to this record — it's a bit too deep."

    As always, thanks for listening! And if you ever want to suggest stories or just want to say hi, you can reach us at daily@buzzfeed.com.