CEO Says MoviePass Will Test Ads On Its Platform, Offer Cheaper Ticket To Users Who Watch Them

MoviePass CEO Stacey Spikes said the service may give users buying tickets on the app the option of watching a bucket of commercials in exchange for credits they can cash in for movie tickets.

Spikes – who relaunched the company out of bankruptcy in 2022 – wants to start a beta trial this coming summer. He spoke at SXSW after the premiere of the Muta’Ali directed documentary MoviePass, MovieCrash earlier today. Spikes co-founded the company, which was then acquired by Ted Farnsworth and Mitch Lowe. They ejected him and ran it into the ground with too-good-to-be-true ticket offers. Shareholders in MoviePass’ parent Helios + Matheson were wiped out when it filed for Chapter 11. Lowe and Farnsworth have been sued for fraud by the SEC.

MoviePass was reborn in the fall of 2022 and currently has three — more responsible — tiers that include movies as well as credits that can be used towards purchases.

In conversation with Bryan Braulich of the Cinema Foundation, a nonprofit affiliate of NATO, and Chaya Rosenthal, head of marketing for Alamo Drafthouse, all agreed that loyalty programs are one key to help fill seats and reinforce the moviegoing habit.

“People, at certain price point, will see [films] even if they have really bad reviews. If things are at the right subscription price, the right value proposition. That’s what the [exhibition] industry is starting to see,” Spikes said.

His advertising strategy came from video. “We’ve always looked at how cinema can compete against its video cousin. Its video cousin has three business models,” TVOD, SVOD and AVOD (ad supported).

“We believe there is a world where you can actually go to the movies for free. There is advertising that loves partnering.” The MoviePass ad push will give subscribers or users at the point of buying a ticket the option of watching an advertising pod in exchange for credits that could add up to a free ticket.

“I am going to use an extreme example. Every time there is a James Bond movie, there is Heineken, Omega watches, BMW, Aston Martin, Hugo Boss suits. Every time. We know it’s going to happen. And the brands know it because it’s a very effective sell through.”

“I believe that AVOD … can make a portion of moviegoing completely free, where people will be able to earn credits related to watching that [advertising] content offline, that can convert into movie tickets.”

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