Battle of the movie subscription services

Moviepass, Sinemia, Cinemark and AMC

For movie lovers, 2018 is turning out to be like a visit to the Land of Oz -- almost too good to be true.

Ever since MoviePass rolled out its unlimited movie card last year, theaters have started jumping in with deals of their own.

Four separate services are now offering Netflix-like movie subscriptions at your local cinema.

MoviePass was the first and (for now, at least) is the most generous: $9.95 a month gets you up to one movie a day, or 30 per month (though it is now experimenting with surge pricing, where you may soon have to pay an additional fee to see movies on peak evenings).

Sinemia is also $9.99 a month, though it gives you just two tickets per month (They have introductory rates as low as $4.99 a month). But you can buy them in advance, unlike MoviePass, where you can't purchase or reserve seats until you get to the theater.

Cinemark Movie Club is $8.99 a month, for one movie ticket per month, which makes it basically a discount club for occasional moviegoers. However, you get a 20 percent discount on concessions, which could save you a lot of popcorn and those overpriced soft drinks.

AMC Stubs A-List is the newest, where $19.95 a month gets you three movies a week. AMC's is the most expensive, but critics say it's the easiest to use.

Downsides of MoviePass

MoviePass may not be quite the incredible deal it seems. In theory, it sounds like the best of the services, by far, at just $9.95 a month for up to 30 movies.

But the New York Post says MoviePass downsides include:

  • The app is clunky and bare bones, and you only use it to buy tickets when you are at the movie theater or in its parking lot.
  • You can't purchase advance tickets.
  • You can't reserve seats.
  • It may soon add a $4 per movie "peak surcharge," like Uber, hitting you with an additional fee on Friday and Saturday evenings.

A crowded showing, where you get a bad front or rear row seat, may leave you feeling like you didn't get a great deal at all.

The Post says unless you see several movies a week, the other services are more customer friendly than MoviePass.

Think hard before signing up for any service. If you see just one or two movies per month, a subscription may be a case of don't waste your money.    

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