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Moviepass is back after its bankruptcy. The CEO says this time will be different

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Any movie, any theater, anytime you want for 10 bucks a month - that was a sales pitch of subscription service MoviePass back in 2017, and millions signed up. Now, if that all sounds too good to be true, it's because it was. The company burned through millions of dollars and went bankrupt in 2020. But now they're back. And CEO and co-founder Stacy Spikes says this time will be different. Our co-host Leila Fadel asked him how.

STACY SPIKES: There will be tiered plans. You can sign up for whatever you want, and the ranges will be $10, $20 or $30. And there'll be a number of credits that you will receive. And so if I want to go only on Friday night of opening weekend, I'm probably going to use the maximum number of credits if you think of peak and off-peak pricing. But let's say I don't have a problem going see that movie a few days later on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday night. I can use far fewer credits because the theaters are more open to allowing a lower price.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Because, you know, the theaters, I imagine, weren't making money in the old version.

SPIKES: Well, the problem with the old version was MoviePass was paying full price for those tickets.

FADEL: So MoviePass wasn't making money.

SPIKES: No, they had not negotiated. So this time around, even prior to launch, we've negotiated partnerships with more than 25% of all the theaters. If you take out AMC, Regal and Cinemark, we've got 40% market share outside of the big three.

FADEL: But those big theater chains do have these, like, MoviePass-esque subscriptions.

SPIKES: Yeah.

FADEL: Can this new service compete with what they have already out there?

SPIKES: Yeah. What we've found is the consumer tends to go to three to four different movie theaters over the course of a year. So you'll have your summer blockbuster theaters. You'll have your arthouse theaters. And so what we found - moviegoers like variety, and if you live somewhere and AMC or Regal is all you need, then you'll be fine sticking with that. But if you want the freedom to go wherever you want and find the same value, then you're going to want something like MoviePass.

FADEL: So in the pandemic, people stopped going to the movies because of health concerns, and attendance is still down. And the number of movies that are being made for the theater still down. And people have less money to spend because of this record inflation. So what's the draw here to sign up for the service?

SPIKES: Moviegoing has always done really well during rough economies. People like to escape. It's still the least expensive form of out-of-home entertainment there is. Going to a sporting event or to a Broadway play or to the opera is still going to be a $100-plus ticket. So we think it's a wonderful time to get started again. And we think that the fact that times are hard is why a service that lets people get away and get back and helps the theater and the consumer at the same time is really important to launch right now.

FADEL: That was MoviePass co-founder and CEO Stacy Spikes. Stacy, thanks so much.

SPIKES: Leila, thank you. I really appreciate, and I'll see you at the movies. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.