The summer blockbuster movie season is upon us, with the release of Avengers: Infinity War. There’s nothing quite like going to the movie theater to see films when they first come out. Over the years, an outing to the theater has become more and more expensive to the point that matinee shows are $7 to $8, not accounting for 3D, IMAX, 4D, Recliner seats, or late night viewing. The pricing has lead many to be more selective with their movie viewing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are two compelling app based movie theater subscription services to choose from depending on your viewing habits. MoviePass and Sinemia offer two completely different ways to go to the theaters, but both can help you save money, and be excited to go to the theater.
MoviePass lets you see up to one movie per day for the entire month for just $9.99 per month. An average month has 30 days, so you can see 30 movies at the theater at any time of day. You can only see one movie per day, but the clock resets at midnight, so if you see a film at 10 p.m., you could see another movie at 10 a.m. the following morning. The main caveat with MoviePass is that you can only see 2D movies, no 3D, IMAX, 4D, etc., but the service is compatible with over 90% of the theaters across the US. Also, you need to be within 100 yards of the theater to activate the service and buy tickets, so you can’t buy from home, and you can only buy on the day of viewing. A select few theaters allow for e-ticketing to let you buy from home, but these are the exception, not the rule.
To use MoviePass, you download the accompanying app, pick the theater, movie, and showtime you like, and then MoviePass certifies that cost to your MoviePass credit card that is mailed to you. Each theater handles MoviePass in its own way, but for the most part, you go through purchasing tickets at a digital kiosk like you normally would, and swipe your MoviePass card like a credit/ATM card. The entire process is easy enough as long as you know you have to be at the theater for the app to supply funds to your card.
Sinemia goes away from unlimited and instead lets you choose the number of movies that you want to see per month with varying price tiers. Sinemia runs a lot of specials, but for the most part, two movies per month are $9.99, three movies are $14.99, with plans to have couple rates to get two movie tickets per movie. Sinemia doesn’t allow you to see a movie per day. Instead, you can see the movie you want when you want in 3D, IMAX, or 4D. Special movie types usually start at double digits, and can go to around $25 per ticket, so paying one monthly fee for two special movie types is a whole other intriguing possibility. You can use Sinemia for any movie, but it’s best to see the premium formats to get your money’s worth.
Sinemia still uses an app and an accompanying credit card, but lets you buy tickets however you would like. You can use Fandango, Atom, etc., and buy tickets days in advance as compared to the day of, when at the theater. Your Sinemia credit card is ready to use at any time, and you just open up the Sinemia app when you get to the show to confirm your theater, movie, and showtime selections.
Which One's Better?
The answer to that is, it depends. After using the two services for the past couple of months, and breaking down the different features, there’s no clear winner. Both have their pros and cons, and it comes down to how you like to go to the movies. If you’re a big fan of 3D, IMAX, 4D with the ability to purchase your tickets at any time, then Sinemia is the best for you. If you just like going to the movies a bunch and don’t care about premium formats, then MoviePass is definitely for you. The main takeaway is that both app-based services work exceptionally well with clean and clear apps to help you get in and out to make the transaction seem as close to what you’re already doing as possible.
Before I tried either service, I would buy tickets when I got to the theater and try to go at matinee times to see movies as cheaply as possible. Fewer and fewer movies are filmed in 3D with many adding them as after effects. There are a ton of movies that I previously thought I would just wait to see when they were available to watch it home. With that scenario, MoviePass is the perfect match for my viewing habits, and it takes off so many restrictions of my previous theater hesitations. Now, I don’t have to go at matinee time, and I can give movies a try that I’m just borderline interested in seeing. The more movies you see in a given month, the cheaper it is per title to make for a great value proposition when you’re always starting at just $10 a month. When price doesn’t go into considering the time to go, you can always be up for a movie, even if you’re out and by different theaters than your local stomping ground. I have seen about 15 movies over the past three months making it $2 per film at my regular theater. That's low, no?
MoviePass and Sinemia will change the way you go to the theater, and hopefully, this will help you decide which one is right for you.