By now, almost everyone’s heard of MoviePass, which is a “Netflix for movie theaters.” Over 2 million people are already paying $10 a month for the right to see as many movies as they like (well, one a day) — in theaters.
There are, however, some restrictions. 3D and IMAX movies aren’t included, for example. And you can’t buy your ticket until you get to the theater, which means you may not get a seat if it’s Saturday night and the movie is popular.
But now MoviePass has competition in the U.S., bearing the awful name Sinemia. (Best I can figure out, it’s pronounced “sinna MEEa.”)
This service, which is already popular in the United Kingdom, Turkey, Australia, and Canada, is almost the same idea as MoviePass — in fact, MoviePass is suing Sinemia — with a few key tweaks:
MoviePass: currently charges $10 a month, paid annually. Sinemia: currently charges as low as $9 a month (depending on the plan), paid annually. (Both companies fiddle with the pricing all the time.)
MoviePass: No 3D or IMAX movies included. Sinemia: All movie formats are included. Including 3D and IMAX.
MoviePass: Buy your ticket at the theater. Sinemia: Buy your ticket at home if you want, online, just as you normally would.
But here’s the kicker. MoviePass: Allows up to 31 movies a month. Sinemia: Two movies a month.
At first glance, the last point makes Sinemia look like a terrible deal. Only two movies a month?! That’s nothin’ compared to MoviePass!
And yes, that’s a bad deal for avid MoviePassers who see five or six or 10 movies a month (yes, they exist). In a recent interview with MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe, he explains that MoviePass subscribers usually start out seeing lots of movies each month, but taper off. Eventually, they may see only one movie a month, or none — and at that point, MoviePass can make money. (The average American movie ticket costs $8.65.)
For the average person whose MoviePass attendance would dwindle down to one or two movies a month anyway, Sinemia might make sense. Especially if you don’t believe that MoviePass’s business model is sustainable. Clearly, Sinemia’s financial structure is more likely to keep it aloft — if it can convince enough people that its perks and limitations are worth the deal.
David Pogue, tech columnist for Yahoo Finance, welcomes non-toxic comments in the Comments below. On the Web, he’s davidpogue.com. On Twitter, he’s @pogue. On email, he’s firstname.lastname@example.org. You can sign up to get his stuff by email, here.