As consumers slowly make their way back to events and around large numbers of people, theaters are throwing open their doors in hopes of a comeback – and they may have a solid assist from an unlikely source: MoviePass. The once bankrupt business envisions consumers returning to theaters in 2022, and they have good intel to support a potential comeback. And how will the latest COVID variant, Omicron, impact these plans?
The Gen Z & Millennial Conversation
We see Gen Z and Millennials dominating talk about returning to theaters over the past three months and specifically sharing excitement around seeing Spiderman: No Way Home:
And their excitement makes sense when one watches the trailer. No Way Home is said to the final chapter in the “Home” trilogy – with Homecoming (2017) and Far From Home (2019) being the first two. In it, “Peter Parker will, for the first time, be forced to deal with the consequences of being unmasked. In an effort to rectify the situation, he enlists the help of Doctor Strange, and the pair unwittingly trigger a series of multiverse-opening events.” Check it out:
With this sort of hype, we can possibly expect moviegoers to pack theaters for its release. And this is something that MoviePass is counting on.
MoviePass Making Its Move in the New Year
MoviePass was a subscription-based service that allowed pass-holders to view as many movies as they wanted at partner theaters for a low, monthly fee – one movie per day, to be precise. The trouble was, they dropped the price so incredibly low in a bit to attract a client base, that they priced themselves out of the market.
“The company played the middleman by buying movie tickets at list price, then giving them to subscribers. The initial hope was that most subscribers wouldn’t actually use the service regularly — like gyms, which use no-show subscribers to financially offset their heavy users. But as it turns out, people like movies more than they like going to the gym. Many MoviePass subscribers who were attracted to the new service by the lower price began using it frequently. MoviePass started losing money on virtually every subscriber, and it then went bankrupt.”
And now, its original “co-founder Stacy Spikes has plans for a movie subscription revival.” One that will hopefully learn from its previous mistakes. Spikes had supported a variable pricing model, geographically based, that was significantly higher than the $10 per month charged by those formerly at the helm of the company. That low cost had been a tactic to increase the user base, meant as a temporary promotion that was never increased, as intended, once the user base hit its 100,000 user goal.
So today, after Spikes regained control of the previously $27m company for less than $250k, he has big plans for the New Year. The subscription movie-going sector is expected to hit $9.4 billion by the end of the year – and he wants to relaunch the service to grab a chunk of it.
Theaters themselves had put variations of MoviePass in place, offering rewards and premium services, and they’d met with moderate success so those found of moviegoing are already primed and ready for a good deal, assuming MoviePass can carve out a niche that makes sense. The timing could be right for the company to make a real push for the subscriber base it previously needed to win over.
Though, we now have the Omicron variant arriving in tandem and potentially complicating this return to theaters in general . . . or will it?
Omicron Potentially Complicating Return to Theaters
A relatively new development on the landscape is the latest COVID variant, Omicron. Net Sentiment around it is understandably negative, registering as of this writing at -47 on a scale from -100 to 100.
And we can also get an idea of the number of posts being made about it online and some quick demographics around who is leading the conversation to help provide context to the posts we’re seeing as these conversations kick into overdrive.
It’s essential for brands to understand that the loudest consumers around a hot topic are not necessarily your target demographic – and they can skew results if they’re aren’t filtered out, as needed. Closely tracking interests, professions and so on can help filter the noise and capture a solid understanding of consumers you need to monitor.
As the conversation about returning to movie theaters and other public settings continues to move forward, we still see a consumer base that’s excited to return. But we also see that many of them be wearing masks – whether or not they’re required. And they’ll also be hoping those around them are vaccinated:
And for their part, movie theaters have begun to message out as well. In fact, the U.S. at least, planning is full speed ahead:
“With Sony’s marketing campaign in full swing, there’s no indication yet that the studio plans to shift Spider-Man’s release because of Omicron. ‘I certainly don’t mean to suggest like, ‘Oh, old hat, we’ve got it,’ says one top executive at a rival studio. ‘I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed that [Omicron] doesn’t mean another series of shutdowns.’”
And so does Stacy Spikes, undoubtedly. Though his plans have held for a few years already, and a short delay at this point would likely give him and even more eager population, ready to return to ‘normal’ and sign up to view all of the movies he can manage to offer them.
Time will tell – and you can be sure the entertainment industry will be monitoring the online conversation, sentiment and emerging trends closely over the coming weeks. And your brand should be as well. Reach out and we’ll show you how to get up to speed on the conversation and stay ahead of potential shifts in your category as we navigate this new challenge.