Editor’s note: Please scroll to the very bottom for some important updates on our Movie Pass experience.
When I first heard about MoviePass on Facebook, I thought it sounded a little too good to be true. All the movies you could possibly see, for just $9 each month? That’s crazy, considering how much it currently costs us to see movies in the theater with four kids (or a babysitter if we’re going out as a couple).
So as part of our Damn You, Facebook Ads series, in which we try out the products flooding our feeds, I decided that MoviePass was worth a try. Especially since my husband and I do really enjoy going to the movies.
(And hey, this could be a great Valentine’s gift, right?)
If you’ve seen the ads yourself and have wondered whether MoviePass is good for families, I’m sharing all the details — the good and the bad — so you can decide if it’s right for your family too. Or maybe just a smart Valentine’s gift for your significant other.
How MoviePass works
MoviePass is a monthly subscription that costs $9.95 per month. With this membership, one person may see one movie per day in participating theaters for free. Yes, really. For free. The app functions similarly to Fandango, except instead of buying the ticket you’re “checking in” to the theater. Once you’re approved to buy your ticket (it takes seconds), you go purchase it (at the theater) using your MoviePass debit card. Voila!
Is MoviePass easy to use?
Yes, and no.
For a person wanting to go see a movie alone, this is a dream. If you’re going with someone else, it can be a bit trickier. One of the fine-print requirements is that you must check in to buy tickets with your phone within 100 yards of the theater. And you must buy the tickets same-day.
(MoviePass advertises an e-ticket option, but so far I’ve only been able to buy tickets in person.)
Here’s how that played out: When we wanted to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi and were sure every showing would be sold out, we went as soon as the theater opened to get our tickets. Since my theater sells only assigned seats for movies, groups who want to sit together must go to the theater together to check in. Or, one person must take everyone’s phones and MoviePass debit cards to get their tickets.
It’s a bit of a hassle, but on the other hand, I’ve never been blocked out of a movie I wanted to see. And I’ve never been told I couldn’t get tickets with MoviePass.
And even though it’s an extra drive to the theater if we want to secure our tickets early, it’s still free movies!
What’s the catch?
First of all, your local theater must participate in the program. In Nashville, every theater near me — including the two indie theaters that usually show limited-release art films — are participating. But, recently I got an email from the service that a handful of theaters (in another state) had left the program. You can check to see if yours are participating at their website.
It’s also important to note that the way MoviePass stays in the red is that they sell your movie-going habits to marketing groups. I’ve received emails telling me my movie is about to start, and when I get home I might want to watch some similar show on HBO or DirecTV.
If privacy is a concern, this might not be for you. However lots of companies do this, so if you’re surprised by this, keep in mind this is a pretty common practice. In fact, you’re already a part of it if you use Facebook, Gmail, or subscribe to pretty much any catalog at all.
For me, the junk email is worth free movies.
Is MoviePass easy for families?
The biggest downside to MoviePass has been trying to make it work for my whole family.
Each account must be connected to a phone, and one phone can only have one account on it. So, since my kids don’t have phones, they can’t have MoviePass accounts. It’s nice that my husband and I get our own tickets free, even if we have to pay for our kids’ tickets.
But I’m definitely looking forward to the couple and family memberships they’ve announced are coming soon.
The Verdict: Has MoviePass been worth it for us?
At $9.95 per month — which is less than the price of one adult matinee ticket at my theater — I figured it was worth it for me to try out MoviePass, even as someone who rarely goes out to the movies. And, it turns out, I’ve already maximized my membership; over the holiday season — when, admittedly, the biggest movies of the year come out — I’ve been able to see pretty much every movie I’d like to see. I’ve even left the kids with their dad in the evening to see one alone (Note: go see Ladybird if you haven’t already!), something I never would have done before.
Now that movie tickets are a “free” date night option, we are getting us out of the house more, and it’s been nice to expand my pop-culture cred beyond the Minions.
Plus it looks MoviePass has got a limited time offer right now — just $7.95 a month, making this a good time to try it.
So final verdict? For us, the $20 per month we’re spending on MoviePass as a couple has been well worth the investment. And when they add their family membership, I’ll easily be one of the first to join.
Updated to add: While my husband and I avidly went to the movies for the first few months of our membership, slowly Movie Pass started to change the terms of our subscription. Then change them again. And again. It got to the point where I could only choose from a select group of movies (not everything in the theatre), and then only premium movies at certain times, and then a reduced number of movies. Sadly, it became so complicated — with the constantly changing terms — and so inconvenient that we decided to drop our membership.
This post is part of our Damn You, Facebook Ads series, and is not been sponsored, which would totally defeat the point of trying things out for you! We’re just suckers for these ads, and we imagine you want to know more about the products and services they’re selling, too.
More reviews from our Damn You, Facebook Ads series that you might like:
THINX period underwear
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The True & Co. Second Skin bra
Stitchfix: A brutally honest she said/she said review
Function of Beauty shampoo and conditioner
Inkbox Semi-Permanent Tattoos
Glossier Balm Dot Calm
Top photo: Krists Luhaers via Unsplash