Ah MoviePass–that thing that all your friends love to brag to you about that you still haven’t gotten around to buying yet. For only $8 bucks a month, you can see one movie a day, every day. Your friends are right, it’s a good deal.
But there must be a catch. And well, yeah, there is. There always is. Information, baby. The company hasn’t ever hidden the fact that they gather information from their users.
The problem, however, is that last week, at a forum called “Data is the New Oil: How Will MoviePass Monetize it?” the company’s CEO, Mitch Lowe, admitted that the MoviePass app (which you are required to download in order to use the service) tracks its users beyond just their ticket purchase.
“Because you are being tracked in your GPS by the phone, our patent basically turns on and off our payment system by hooking that card to the device ID on your phone, so we watch how you drive from home to the movies,” said Lowe. “We watch where you go afterwards, and so we know the movies you watch. We know all about you.”
This caused quite an uproar online because, come on, we know companies are doing it, but don’t make it sound so damn creepy. But a few days later, trying to quiet the online outrage, MoviePass issued a statement: “We are exploring utilizing location-based marketing as a way to help enhance the overall experience by creating more opportunities for our subscribers to enjoy all the various elements of a good movie night.”
In other words: that dude made it sound way worse than it is.
The company took it a step further in alleviating users’ fears: a new update to their app supposedly removed some of the tracking abilities.
A statement from the company:
“Today, MoviePass released a new app update, including the removal of some unused app location capabilities. While part of our vision includes using location-based marketing to enhance the movie-going experience for our members, we aren’t using some of that functionality today. Our members will always have the option to choose the location-based services that are right for them today and in the future.”
MoviePass was founded in 2011 but only recently begin to take off (now with over 2 million users). Currently, you actually pay $105.35 for the year and be able to see one movie a day, every day, at participating theaters (which is about 90 percent of them). That’s about $8 dollars a month (plus a $10 processing fee). Previously you were able to pay month to month, but it’s still an amazing deal considering the price of a single movie ticket these days.
Photo 1 by Kilyan Sockalingum
Photo 2 by Jake Hills