Regal Entertainment is aggressively positioning itself to pick up where MoviePass left off.
The No. 2 cinema chain in the U.S. began selling an annual Regal Unlimited movie subscription pass last month. The lure: "Endless movie tickets, all day, every day starting at just $18 per month plus tax," Regal promised.
There are three tiers of passes. With the $18 plan, subscribers can watch unlimited movies at any of the 200 participating Regal theaters. The fixed price goes up to $21 per month to be able to access 400 theaters and $23.50 to attend movies at any and all 550 Regal theaters in the U.S. If your local theater is only available at the more expensive rate, that's what you pay.
In Georgia, the Regal theaters in Woodstock, Gainesville, Carrollton, Augusta and Dawsonville are available on the $18-per-month program. The rest of the state, including three Atlanta locations, is only covered by the $21-per-month subscription rate. The unlimited increase may be necessary if you live in certain remote or upscale areas. It also allows you to go to the movies should you find yourself in, say, Fairbanks, Alaska, in Brooklyn or at the Regal Edwards University Town Center in Irvine, California.
Other advantages of the subscription service, which is being billed as the "top tier" of Regal's Crown Club loyalty rewards program, include being able to buy advance tickets as soon as they go on sale and a 10-percent discount on popcorn and other food and beverages (but not alcohol.)
By waiting a few years to play the subscription game, Regal has been able to anticipate and correct many of the issues that plagued MoviePass. The Regal pass won't limit the number of subscription-based movie showings patrons can attend in a given day, for example, nor does it restrict how many times a patron can watch a certain movie. In the past, no one offered a subscription program that would allow moviegoers to binge on multiple showings of musicals, like 2017's "The Greatest Showman." This pass also caters to binge-watching super fans, like the man who had viewed "Avengers: Endgame" 114 times by June 14, 2019.
Variety, for one, sees great potential for the Regal Unlimited pass, along with the already existing cinema subscriptions offered by AMC and Cinemark. The approach may rescue exhibitors and studios trying to boost ticket sales, which fell 8% from 2018 to 2019. "The cost-effective models AMC and Cinemark offer are luring audiences the same way music lovers flocked to Spotify and TV buffs pledged allegiance to Netflix," Variety noted. "AMC reports that 860,000 people have signed up for Stubs A-List, with the average member going to the movies 2.6 times per month. Meanwhile, the 700,000 Cinemark Movie Club cardholders go to the cinema roughly once a month. For comparison, the average American attends a movie five times per year."
And now there's one more option for frugal moviegoers. Here's how the Regal Unlimited Subscription Program will work: Patrons will join Regal's Crown Club loyalty program, download the Regal app and sign up for a one-year term that can't be canceled. The subscription holder can then use the pass to get tickets at the box office or kiosks for same-day showings or to make up to three reservations online. The app and a photo ID are also required to gain admission.
What you can't do with this pass.
There is lots of fine print, but these four restrictions are critical:
–You must be 16 to buy or use a Regal Unlimited Movie Pass.
–Unlike the first, overly optimistic days of MoviePass, there's not an option to go month to month or cancel any time. You can pay month to month, but you must sign up for a year at a time, no refunds except in very limited situations.
–Subscribers still have to pay $0.50 to reserve seats online instead of getting to the theater and choosing them (seats are assigned in either case).
Regal's the new kid on the fixed-price movie block.
While Regal now owns the most extensive movie subscription option, a few other companies still have options that apply just to the theaters they operate. According to the Motley Fool, Regal's subscriptions are a better bargain than AMC Stubs A-List.
AMC Entertainment, the leading multiplex operator in the U.S., drove a few nails in MoviePass's coffin. One of the first to object to the MoviePass model, AMC refused to negotiate discounts with MoviePass and then predictably offered its own club. AMC Stubs A-List costs $19.95 a month and lets patrons see up to three movies a week, including those in IMAX and premium formats. Stubs members can also reserve tickets online without an upcharge. And the subscription commitment can be as short as three months.
This arrangement works for movie-hungry fans who are on a date-night schedule and also favor premium movie formats. But it hasn't helped the company's stock much. According to June 27 Motley Fool coverage, "the stock has been cut in half since peaking late summer."
Cinemark also still maintains the Cinemark Movie Club that Gadget Hacks described as "a great subscription for occasional filmgoers and popcorn addicts." For $8.99 per month, you get a standard 2D movie ticket to use any time and waived online fees, along with the chance to buy any other 2D tickets for $8.99 each. You also get 20% off popcorn, other food and non-alcoholic beverages.
Sinemia is still holding on to MoviePass's "any major theater" provision. It offers a promotion somewhat like a Groupon-gift card combo. Sinemia sells dollar amounts of discounted "movie bucks" and patrons can use them at major theater franchises. One option is $400 for $200, with no limits as to the type of theater, no blackout days and also no app required. Sinemia also offers numerous configurations of monthly ticket deals, like two tickets for $10.99 per month that can be used for 3-D, IMAX or 4DX movies. It's billed annually, however.
Whatever happened to MoviePass, anyhow?
The Regal Unlimited subscription pass is an early project of London's Cineworld, which acquired the cinema chain for a cool $3.6 billion on Feb. 27, 2018. Cineworld got its first stronghold in the American movie business while MoviePass was still in its heyday. Regal Entertainment still participated in many of the various iterations of MoviePass, though. Months before Regal announced its big push to establish Regal Unlimited, MoviePass announced yet another $9.95-per-month plan in March 2019.
Then July 4, 2019, it said it would suspend services for at least a few weeks while it worked out some technical difficulties and new sources of capital, according to Variety. The beleaguered brainchild from Helios and Matheson Analytics' net loss more than doubled in 2018, to $329.3 million, Variety reported. While MoviePass may never make a comeback, its faulty model definitely provided a springboard for Regal Unlimited™ to create a genuine and affordable "all-you-can-view" 2-D movie subscription.
Theaters in Georgia that accept the Regal Unlimited™ movie subscription pass:
Alpharetta, Regal Avalon
Atlanta, Regal Atlantic Station ScreenX, IMAX, RPX & VIP
Atlanta, Regal Perimeter Pointe
Atlanta, Regal Tara Cinemas
Augusta, Regal Augusta Exchange & IMAX
Austell, Regal @ Austell
Buford, Regal Mall of Georgia IMAX & RPX
Carrollton, Regal Carrollton
Chamblee, Regal Hollywood @ North I-85
Dacula, Regal Hamilton Mill
Dawsonville, Regal Dawson
Douglasville, Regal Arbor Place & IMAXNewnan, Regal Georgian
Gainesville, Regal Hollywood Cinemas-Gainesville
Griffin, Regal Griffin
Johns Creek, Regal Medlock Crossing & RPX
Kennesaw, Regal Town Center & RPX - Kennesaw
McDonough, Regal McDonough
Woodstock, Regal Cherokee
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