There was a time, not all that long ago, when it looked like the movie subscription service was the wave of the future. While MoviePass was the first service to grab headlines, they weren’t the only game in town, and when MoviePass began to falter, Sinemia came in to try and pick up the pieces by offering an alternative to movie lovers. However, that alternative is now no more as Sinemia has announced they are ceasing operations within the U.S.
MoviePass became the hottest thing at the theater a couple years ago when the price of it’s unlimited viewing option dropped to $9.95 a month in price. Subscription numbers went through the roof. However, eventually the users that took advantage of the service to an extreme degree began to be a drain on the service. This led to changes in the plan that ran the gamut from movie blackouts to price increases to limitations on the number of screenings you could view in a given time period.
When that happened, the people who signed up for the original plan began to get upset and Sinemia tried to pick up those customers. While Sinemia did not have the same unlimited plan at the time, it would come later, it did have options, including choices that included 3D and large format screens, something MoviePass didn’t offer at the time.
More recently, Sinemia was hit on two fronts by a pair of lawsuits, one came from MoviePass and claimed patent infringement. The other came in the form of a class action suit from customers with a litany of complaints including hidden fees and cancellations without refunds.
In a letter posted on Sinemia’s homepage, the site admits that the company simply doesn’t have the money necessary to both meet increased operations costs and the current legal issues the company is facing.
The U.S. isn’t the only country Sinemia currently does business in. You can also use the service in Canada, the UK, Australia, and Turkey, where the company is based. The letter only states that Sinemia is ending U.S. operations, so it’s possible the company will continue forward in other countries.
While Sinemia tried to be an alternative to MoviePass, it has now folded and MoviePass, while the company has certainly been through many trials and tribulations itself, still stands.
Many of the major theater chains in the U.S. like AMC and Cinemark have instituted their own subscription system, which largely appear to be successful.
There is clearly consumer interest in the subscription idea, but there are just as clearly some significant hurdles to making it work, at least for third party companies. Where there is interest, you can be sure there will be attempts to capture that market. Will MoviePass, or somebody else, ever figure out how to make money while still giving consumers the value they need?