Monthly movie-tickets service plans a relaunch, but needs a partner

EXCLUSIVE: MoviePass, the $50 monthly all-you-can-watch movie ticket startup that angered exhibitors and studios with two failed attempts last year to launch behind their backs, is mounting a third attempt in the coming weeks — though it’s still not clear how.

The fledgling service would require an established ticket brokerage as a partner to get its customers through the turnstiles without pushback from exhibs. Though MoviePass did corroborate external sources’ information that a relaunch was imminent, it would not comment on who it’s lined up as that partner, and each of the four known possible companies denied involvement.

MoviePass dissolved its most recent partnership with Hollywood Movie Money, a ticketing utility whose vouchers service cereal-box and DVD promotions. That company, which currently works with Groupon, won’t take on any new MoviePass customers, but will continue to service existing ones — however, that’s a very small group, as MoviePass has yet to make it out of testing phase.

Beyond that, MoviePass’ options are limited. Fandango is not involved, nor is New York-based rewards and promotions company MovieCash, which took a meeting with MoviePass founder Stacy Spikes months ago but didn’t see a fit. And Movietickets.com, through whom MoviePass originally attempted to start the business before an exhibitor uprising shut down the venture, is no longer involved with MoviePass.

Multiple sources from the ticketing and exhibition community couldn’t think of another company with the capacity to supply tickets to MoviePass customers. MoviePass’ business model relies on patrons’ tendency to underuse such services, as well as ancillary revenues like online advertising and other promotions.

Just like with the first two launch attempts, exhibitors told Variety that they’ve received no contact from MoviePass, a major bone of contention. Many indicated they would make efforts to turn away MoviePass customers if they became aware of them.

When MoviePass attempted a beta test via smartphone vouchers in June 2011, exhibitors pushed back, claiming they couldn’t support the ticketing system — but mostly complaining that the service’s all-you-can-watch model would undermine traditional per-ticket pricing. Its second attempt, in August of last year, involved customers printing Hollywood Movie Money vouchers at home, but that model never got off the ground.

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