MoviePass starts adding 'peak pricing' surcharges

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MoviePass introduced "peak pricing" on Thursday, driving the cost of its famously low subscription service higher for users who wish to see the most popular titles at the more crowded showtimes.

From this day forward, MoviePass says it will identify in its app the movies that will require a surcharge by putting a red lightning bolt next to a title and showtime, while a gray bolt means that a particular showing is very near the threshold that will require a surcharge but not quite there yet.

In its example distributed to users on Thursday, MoviePass lists a 7 p.m. showing of Avengers: Infinity War at a theatre in "Everytown USA" accompanied by a red lightning bolt icon and an alert showing that users will be charged $3.43 extra for a ticket to that particular showing.

MoviePass says that $3.43 is an example and actual results may vary.

The MoviePass service costs just $10 monthly for a ticket per day, so just about any surcharge represents a healthy increase, percentage-wise, over the basic charge.

MoviePass signaled last month that it would be making this move, though without providing details, until now.

The company, owned by Helios and Matheson Analytics, has been losing some $40 million or so monthly and peak pricing is designed to stem the bleeding. Previously, MoviePass introduced a policy restricting users to a single showing of each title so that they could not simply obtain a ticket to the day's hottest movie, then sell it.

The parent company said last week it was raising $1.2 billion to keep MoviePass growing while it waits for its subsidiary to turn cash-flow positive via partnerships, acquisitions and marketing relationships.

MoviePass has more than three million subscribers and it expects five million by year's end, though it remains to be seen if its hyper-growth rate might be slowed by the introduction of peak pricing.

"Peak pricing is rolling out gradually over the next several weeks in order to ensure the best possible experience," MoviePass told its subscribers on Thursday. "It starts today and impacts a limited number of showtimes."—The Hollywood Reporter