For a short window of time—two years, to be exact—MoviePass was a theatergoers dream. But, as it turns out, allowing subscribers to see unlimited movies in theaters for just $9.95 a month, also became an investor’s nightmare.
The story dates back further than 2017, when it exploded on the market and altered the theatergoing experience. That was the year an analytics firm called Helios and Matheson became majority stakeholders, but MoviePass was founded in 2011. By 2019, the ambitious app had shuttered just two years after it started to peak.
What happened? Well, the answer to that question will be explored in the forthcoming MoviePass docuseries executive produced by Mark Wahlberg. According to Deadline, the docuseries will start with the inception of the app by founders Stacy Spikes and Hamet Watt, and weave through the problems that eventually left them bankrupt and investigated by the FBI. “Featuring exclusive first-hand accounts from the MoviePass founders who watched the company they built destroyed by Wall Street greed, along with company insiders and industry experts, the project will provide an inside look at how players in the investor class can rig the game to ensure their payday regardless of the carnage they leave behind,” Deadline reports. “It will also include the perspective of ambitious young employees and passionate MoviePass users who helped fuel a movie-going revolution that was cut short.”
It wasn’t just the cheap subscription price that caused problems for MoviePass. Those who had memberships know that sometimes the app didn’t work properly, seats would be listed as sold out when they really weren’t, and sometimes the account would change a user’s password without their knowledge in order to keep them from reserving tickets.
It was a mess—a beautiful mess. MoviePass was a sometimes-chaotic app that allowed, at one point, 3 million subscribers to be have the experience of seeing most of the 2018 Oscar-nominated films—a feat that is not always easy when you don’t have access to advance screeners, or the funds to spend $15 per ticket.
Certainly the pandemic has caused most of us to really miss the experience of going to the movies, it is the short-lived MoviePass heyday that some of us really yearn for while we stream from the comfort of our own homes instead. At least now, when you tell your incredulous grandkids that there was once a service that cost you less than $10 a month to see as many movies as you want in theaters, you’ll at least have docuseries proof to show for it.