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MoviePass to limit subscribers to three films a month

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The ailing theatergoing service makes a drastic change

MoviePass House Park City Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for MoviePass

MoviePass is introducing a serious restriction to its one-a-day moviegoing service. Subscribers will soon be limited to seeing just three movies a month — a move that its CEO says is a cost-saving measure.

Beginning Aug. 15, anyone currently paying $9.95 on a month-to-month basis will no longer be able to attend a single movie every day of the month. MoviePass will switch over to the stricter three-film allowance, while offering viewers who purchase tickets for additional movies a small discount on full-priced films. That could run anywhere from $2 to $5, the company said.

Anyone who paid upfront for an annual membership will not be impacted by the change until their year is up.

MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe argued that most subscribers won’t suffer under the change, however. As much as 85 percent of them see “three or fewer” films a month, the company said.

“We are now creating a framework to provide the vast majority of subscribers with what they want most — low cost, value, variety, and broad availability — and to bring some moderation to the small number of subscribers who imposed undue cost on the system by viewing a disproportionately large number of movies,” Lowe said of the revamp in a news release.

The restriction comes after weeks of dire losses for MoviePass, which amassed hundreds of thousands of new members by cutting its monthly pricing down to $9.95 last year. Since then, however, the company has seen its losses grow much faster than its profits. The cost of supporting the unlimited service became untenable, and customers began to encounter hefty surcharges for popular movies. Most recently, showtimes for later in the day or weekends were not offered at all; MoviePass even experienced an outage after running out of cash to pay back theaters for the tickets its subscribers purchased.

For those who use MoviePass to increase their moviegoing — perhaps to see more niche films, classics or limited releases on the big screen — three films a month may not cut it. Subscribers will now be forced to weigh their decisions on how to use the service more carefully. And when compared to AMC’s new monthly service that offers three movies a week for $19.95, MoviePass is looking less and less like a cost-effective buy.

Once the new framework kicks off after Aug. 15, users will be given the option to re-subscribe to the updated version of MoviePass upon their monthly renewal; cancellation is available at any time. We hardcore users have a little over one week to start figuring out how to accommodate all those movies we want to see — and whether the new plan even will let us.