By Ryan Nakashima, AP Business Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Startup discounter MoviePass Inc.'s test run to offer unlimited movie tickets for a fixed monthly fee was aborted in July amid a dust-up with theater chains. Now, it's back in line with a new plan that it believes will work even without the explicit consent of cinema owners.
MoviePass said Tuesday that it will launch an invitation-only test of its new system next month in partnership with Hollywood Movie Money, a company that provides promotional movie tickets to customers and reimburses theaters when they are redeemed.
They say that such vouchers are regularly used by a wide variety of companies, from The Walt Disney Co. to Proctor & Gamble Co., and don't require theaters to know who is paying for them.
"We are the traveler's checks of movie tickets," said Ron Randolph-Wall, the chief executive of Quantum Rewards, the operator of Nevada-based Hollywood Movie Money. "Our business is only about settlement."
Hollywood Movie Money is offering to pay theater owners the full price of a regular ticket when MoviePass customers take in their print-at-home vouchers.In exchange, MoviePass plans to charge customers a fixed fee every month or year. The fee, which has yet to be determined, will depend on how much tickets cost in different markets.
In July, MoviePass abandoned a trial run in San Francisco after 19,000 people tried to sign up in one day.
AMC Theatres, the nation's second largest chain with more than 5,100 screens in the U.S. and Canada, said at the time that it had not been consulted on the program and would not participate.
Part of the problem was that it was unclear if frequent AMC patrons would have MoviePass purchases count toward their rewards program.
A person familiar with the situation said Tuesday that MoviePass had not made any new attempt to contact cinema owners. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.