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AMC starts blocking MoviePass users from purchasing certain tickets

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Those in Denver and Boston can no longer buy e-tickets

A photo of the AMC Empire 25 theater marquee in New York City Noam Galai / Getty Images

MoviePass wants to let its subscribers watch movies in theaters as many times as they like for $10 a month. AMC doesn’t want to let MoviePass subscribers in. It’s an ongoing battle between the two companies, but with more than 150,000 subscribers, people want to know: Will AMC accept MoviePass in the coming months?

Mitch Lowe, MoviePass’ CEO, won’t really answer the question. Lowe told the Denver Post the “only way the theater chain could refuse to work with MoviePass would be to decline the MasterCard debit cards that MoviePass subscribers use to buy tickets,” calling AMC’s statement about the service “bluster.” He also admitted, however, that he’s worried about the repercussions that AMC’s decision to pull out of the service would have on MoviePass.

In a statement released last week, AMC said MoviePass’ new $10-a-month plan was “unsustainable and only sets up consumers for ultimate disappointment down the road if or when the product can no longer be fulfilled.” The company added that it was looking into “whether it may be feasible to opt out and not participate in this shaky and unsustainable program.”

This week, AMC Theaters has stopped allowing MoviePass users to buy e-tickets at locations in Denver and Boston, two cities AMC agreed to work with MoviePass on a new subscription service that included 3D and IMAX movies as part of subscriptions in 2014. That doesn’t mean MoviePass users can’t still go to those theaters and use their MasterCard debit cards to purchase tickets — they just have to wait in line with everyone else. It’s an annoyance, but probably not one that’s going to get more than 150,000 subscribers to stop using the service.

Lowe told Variety that it’s because of this reason he doesn’t think AMC will pull out of the arrangement they had agreed upon.

“We pay full price for the tickets we buy,” Lowe said. “We comply fully with the rules of MasterCard and AMC has signed agreements with both their credit card processor and with MasterCard to comply with all the rules. They would essentially have to not take MasterCard in order to block us. I don’t think you can cancel that agreement without severe penalties.”

The more pressing issue that MoviePass customers both old and new are facing is more technical. Since MoviePass announced it’s $10-a-month plan, the website has been almost unusable. There are moments where the site loads and people can sign up for the plan, but it’s been a struggle. On Twitter, the official MoviePass account confirmed the company was aware of the issue and employees were working to make the website more stable.

Going forward, even if AMC were to bow out, Lowe told Variety that other chains are still interested in being a part of the deal.

“We talked to the independents and the majors, the other two big guys [Regal and Cinemark] and they feel completely different,” Lowe said. “They all are taking a wait-and-see attitude, but they are positive about what we are doing. They welcome anybody who has figured out a way to get people back to the movies.”

Polygon has reached out to AMC for comment and will update if more information becomes available.