For the cinephile, ours is a golden age, with the ability to stream from an incredible all-you-can eat buffet of old and recent films via services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime, among many others. But for dyed-in-the-wool movie buffs, who cherish the first-run experience for the big screen and surround sound, a trip to the cineplex is still the gold standard. It's also the high road to the poor house if you aren't careful, which is what intrigues us about MoviePass, a relatively low-cost service that aims to do for silver screen junkies what Netflix did for home theater buffs.
Though billed as "unlimited movies," the subscription-based service lets members catch up to a flick a day, for between $29 and $34 a month, depending on location. (Notably, that doesn't currently include 3D and IMAX films, which typically charge extra, though the service plans to offer coupons and discounts for these showings as well). The process at the outset may seem complex, but in practice it's simple. First, you sign up, and within a week or so, you'll receive a dedicated MoviePass card. Download the accompanying iPhone or Android app, register your card, and then use the app to choose a movie, theater, and time. Proceed to the theater, and once you're within about 100 yards of the box office, use the app to "check in" – that'll pre-load your MoviePass card with funds for a single ticket for that day. Then walk in, swipe your MoviePass card as you would a regular credit card, and head right to the concession stand for your Twizzlers and Dr Pepper. Since your MoviePass card is essentially like a pre-paid credit card, it will work at essentially any theater in the country.
MoviePass does have its drawbacks that make it of dubious value for someone who isn't a die-hard movie buff – the obvious one being that it doesn't pay off if you don't see at least three, or, in places where movie tickets don't cost $20, four or five movies per month. Another hiccup is that you can’t prepurchase or reserve tickets in advance, which means you'll need to get to a theater early on the opening weekend of a blockbuster. And you can’t buy two tickets at a time with it, which, while understandable, means you're always going Dutch treat. Still, if, like us, you can hit two movies in a weekend without blinking (that is, until we finally surface and see daylight), then MoviePass might be just the ticket. [From $29 to $34/month; moviepass.com]