MoviePass 2: Electric Boogaloo

Just wanted to share a few things that were cut from yesterday's post, mainly because they didn't fit in or were irrelevant to the topic at hand. Also, a bit of follow up.

First, even though it's a few months out, my friends and I have already started discussing our plans to see The Last Jedi. For large groups like us, I've found that it's easiest to have one person collect the money and buy the tickets. But, MoviePass is only good for one person, and can only be used day of. If you're going to want to use your MoviePass and see The Last Jedi opening weekend, I hope you like the front row. For large releases—like a Star Wars—I can see MoviePass arguing that the average subscriber will still go out and buy tickets in advance. For Star Wars in particular, I know I would. But the more I thought about it, the less certain I am that this will stick. Outside maybe Marvel, I don't think any franchise other than Star Wars demands that you get your tickets in advance if you are hoping to catch a screening the opening weekend. And even then, when I worked at a theater, I'd say most Marvel films had decent seats available for walk-ins starting Sunday afternoon or evening. I've heard one suggestion that MoviePass could block the opening weekends of certain releases in order to help drive sales to later in a film's box office run, but deciding which films get blocked could be another big can o' worms.

Secondly, a small note on the box offices of 2000 and 2015. As I had noted yesterday, in 2015, the top 10 averaged 33% of their total gross in their opening weekend, but in 2000 the top ten only grossed 21.4% of their total take on opening weekend. However, there was one notable outlier in 2000: X-Men. It grossed 34% of it's total on opening weekend. I doubt anyone realized it at the time, but it definitely was a hint at the future of the box office.

Finally, a note on the concessions stand. One argument you will hear—and I even had someone bring it up to me last night—is that movie theaters make most of their money through concessions sales, so anything that drives attendance must be a good thing. Eh, it's not so simple. While concessions are incredibly profitable—like super, mega profit margins profitable—tickets are a volume business. Yes, theaters only see a smaller percentage of the ticket sales, but it adds up quickly. I don't remember any specifics—and if I did I probably couldn't share them—but I'd say it's a safe, educated guess that at the theater I worked at, 30% of the net profit came from ticket sales. Again, this is based on my own experience at one theater, so your mileage may vary. But, if I was an exhibitor, something that threatened a significant percentage of my profits—like, say, a subscription service that undervalues my tickets and is of questionable profitability—it is something I'd be very leery of. So, what I said about attendance, also applies to concessions. A 1-2% increase in concessions sales coming directly from MoviePass subscribers won't be enough to allay those concerns. So, unless MoviePass subscribers buy concessions in significantly greater numbers than the average theater goer, the concessions stand is ultimately a moot point. MoviePass still needs to provide a dramatic change.