phone and card jan 2014MoviePass is an all access pass to movie theaters nationwide in the United States. For a flat monthly fee you get access to any releases in 95% of theaters nationwide. There aren’t any blackout dates and all first run major releases are available. The only restrictions are 3D movies and you can’t see more than one film within a 24-hour period.

When you join MoviePass you will receive a MoviePass VIP card that you use at anywhere major credit cards are accepted. The way it works is simple:

  1. With the MoviePass App (available on both iOS and Android), you check into the theater and movie you want to see
  2. You use your MoviePass VIP card to pick up your ticket at the kiosk.

It couldn’t be any simpler, although there area few things I would change (more on that later).

I waited a month to write my review of MoviePass because I wanted to see if I’d get my money’s worth before offering my opinion. At $35/month, you think you’d have to be a hardcore film aficionado to use it. I found this not to be true. I wound up seeing four movies in my month using MoviePass. That might not sound like a lot, but when you live in a part of the country where seeing a movie can cost you up to $13.50, four turns out to be a lot. Seeing four films in one month I got my money’s worth with MoviePass. Even if I’d found a theater that sold tickets for the low price of $12.00 a ticket, four movies at the price would have cost me $48.00.  Therefore, I’ve already saved 13.00 with movie pass. If I was single and didn’t have family obligations, I’m positive that I’d be taking in twice the number of films I saw in my first month. Already, MoviePass is a benefit to any movie fan.

But you don’t have to be hardcore to appreciate the service. MoviePass gives average filmgoers a good deal, too. Simply having the opportunity to see the new releases the week they come out, or the critically acclaimed films that are up for awards gives movie fans a chance to go to the cinema to see films they might otherwise let gather dust in a Netflix queue or forget altogether.

My first film was George Clooney’s The Monuments Men, which received mixed reviews. Those critical of Clooney’s latest were justified, in my opinion. Normally, if I saw a film by an artist I respect and it turns out to be weak, I’d be bitter for having spent my money and wasted my time. You know what? It didn’t bother me. In the back of my mind, I knew if I saw three more movies this month it would (hopefully) make up for The Monuments Men. MoviePass advantage number one: You’ll see bad movies and will be less inclined to leave the theater angry.

The second film I saw was The Lego Movie, accompanying my son to see the animated blockbuster for the second time. The two of us loved that film, and I wasn’t hesitant to purchase another movie ticket because of MoviePass. This is advantage number two: You’re more inclined to return for repeat viewings of films you loved, or in the case of The Lego Movie, laughed so hard you missed a third of the jokes. Besides teenagers with disposable income, who actually sees a movie twice in the theater anymore? I certainly don’t.

My third film was American Hustle, David O’Russell’s much lauded caper film that stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence. American Hustle made almost every critic’s top ten list and was nominated for ten Academy Awards. Since I was seeing the film late in its run, I had to settle for a dingy 75-seat theater in the heart of the Burbank mall. I think the screen was as large as some television sets I’ve seen in Best Buy. Still, the theater conditions didn’t bother me much because American Hustle was a fun ride, and I had bought my ticket with MoviePass. Advantage three: You get to see those critics’ darlings and decide whether the reviewers are full of crap. Advantage four: You’re a little more forgiving of the theater conditions.

The last film I saw during my first month is one I never would have considered seeing in the theater, or even on Blu-ray: Non-Stop. The only way I would have sat through Non-Stop is catching it on TNT or USA two years from now. But when I thought about seeing a film the other night, my choices were limited. So I decided to check out the Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore airplane action film and guess what, it was a mindless good time. MoviePass advantage five: You’ll end up seeing films you might not consider. And hey, you could end up liking them.

The objective of MoviePass is to get you to see a lot of movies. Well, okay, the first objective is to make money, but the second (or somewhere near the top) is to get people back into the movie theaters in a convenient and easy way. For the most part, most of the theaters in L.A. allowed me to use MoviePass. Only a handful of art house theaters and the famed ArcLight chain did not use it. I hope ArcLight joins soon. I bet they’d see an increase in attendance if more folks could pay for their tickets using MoviePass.

Is the service perfect? Almost. The phone app has some glitches and could use some tweaking. First off, it deleted my password twice. Fortunately, the MoviePass support line had very friendly and helpful people who spoke to me on the phone and, most important, didn’t treat me like I was a nuisance. Customer service is so important with start-ups like this one, and MoviePass passed the grade.

The app also doesn’t provide a link to get directions to the movie theaters, something I found puzzling since you have to have GPS running on your phone to find theaters and showtimes. This has to be something the tech staff at MoviePass is working on. It’s a minor inconvenience to have to open up Fandango or Google Maps in the middle of finding your movie when you should be able to do it all within the one app. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.

Finally, I’m still trying to figure out why I have to be within 100 yards of the theater to check in and reserve my movie ticket. I understand a thirty- minute rule to actually purchase the ticket or lose it, but if I’m already 100 yards from the theater, I don’t really need the thirty minutes, do I?

If I were going to grade MoviePass, I’d give it an A-. The convenience and the ease with which the program works really impressed me. More important, MoviePass got me going to see movies again, an experience I love but do little of because of the cost.

Movie Pass is available through their website, moviepass.com. Like everything else about the service, ordering it is a piece of cake.