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MoviePass 2.0 explained: Yes, this sounds like a Black Mirror episode

The MoviePass 2.0 logo from the MoviePass 2.0 presentation
(Image credit: MoviePass via YouTube)

I said it, and I'm sure others did too: "MoviePass 2.0? Really?" MoviePass, the once-unlimited buffet of movie tickets for a monthly fee, is back — but a lot has changed since the original MoviePass died. Co-founder CEO Stacy Spikes announced the return to press assembled at New York City's Walter Reade Theater today (Feb, 10). 

The presentation, which will not disappoint anyone who is suspicious of this return, saw Spikes talk about cameras tracking your eyes, the nebulous term "Web3" and even a credits-based virtual currency. You can watch it for yourself below, but I'll do my best to break it down for you.

Spikes, who bought the company out of bankruptcy, spoke to an applauding crowd, but his proposal seems curious and unfinished. Spikes delivered his presentation, though, with confidence based on the demand for MoviePass 1.0. According to Spikes, 3 million MoviePass users saw 50 million movies in 4,000 theaters, amounting to 4% of the market share in the U.S.; he also claimed that MoviePass drove substantial amounts of traffic to independent theaters. That would make MoviePass the second-ranked exhibitor by Spikes' math.

We now know that MoviePass's beta is expected to launch on Labor Day and that it will cost between $10 and $30. We also know that if you want to access the beta you will need to sign up for the waitlist between August 25 and August 29.

In full disclosure, I'm a former MoviePass member, but not a part of any class-action lawsuits that went after the company. I would love MoviePass 2.0 to be the rebirth of the original. But how is MoviePass 2.0 supposed to work? If you're wondering the same thing, brace yourselves here for a lot of buzzwords that didn't get explanations.

MoviePass 2.0: How will it work?

Spikes said that MoviePass 2.0 will work with an "end-to-end cinematic marketplace," that uses Web3 technology. The benefits of this Web3 involvement supposedly include power, control and freedom. 

MoviePass 2.0 will be based around a virtual currency of credits, which will roll over month to month. One upgrade over MoviePass 1.0 is that you'll also be able to bring a friend without requiring a new membership tier. Oddly, you'll be able to "trade" credits between users. The dev team is still working on the details of that, Spikes said.

Stacy Spikes talking about PreShow feature during MoviePass 2.0 presentation

(Image credit: MoviePass via YouTube)

After Spikes claimed you’ll be more in control of your privacy, he introduced something called PreShow. That would help companies speak to customers directly while showing a bunch of fashionable print ads.

This is when things got very Black Mirror. Remember Fifty Million Merits, the episode where people use exercise bikes to get points to remove ads from their cubicle homes? MoviePass 2.0's PreShow feature will let you watch ads — and the cameras in your phone will track your face and eyes so it makes sure you're watching — in order to get credits for movies.

During the MoviePass 2.0 presentation, we saw how PreShow uses eye-tracking

(Image credit: MoviePass via YouTube)

Spikes didn't say how many ads you need to watch to get to see a movie for free.

MoviePass 2.0, Spikes said, was meant to be "built by its fanbase," and he compared it to a co-op. The users, he said, are supposed to be the owners. Portions of the company will be available for investment, and registration is open (opens in new tab) at the moment. Perks will include lifetime membership, according to Spikes.

MoviePass 2.0 will assign different numbers of its token-based credits to different showtimes, so "off-peak" matinee times are cheaper than "peak" time evening tickets.

MoviePass 2.0 launch date (Updated August 24)

In a recent email, MoviePass revealed that the beta will launch on Labor Day (September 5). To get in on the beta, you will need to sign up for the waitlist. The waitlist officially opens on MoviePass (opens in new tab)’s website at 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT on August 25 and closes at 11:59 p.m. ET/8:59 p.m. PT. 

MoviePass 2.0 pricing: It's still (kind of) a secret (Updated August 24)

There are three pricing tiers: $10, $20 and $30 a month. Each tier will receive a set amount of credits, but we do not know how many credits each tier gets. Nowhere in Spike's February presentation did he use the word "unlimited," so we expect there will be limits to how many movies users can watch.

MoviePass 2.0 theaters (Updated August 24)

In February, Spikes said MoviePass 2.0 will have "partnering theaters," that allow you to pick your seat in the MoviePass app. Theaters will be able to promote offers to consumers through MoviePass 2.0 if the customer is no longer going as often, which wasn't available before.

We now know that MoviePass is expected to work with all major movie theaters that accept credit cards in your area. While MoviePass does not list specific theaters, we expect theaters from AMC Entertainment, Regal Cinemas and Cinemark will be included.

MoviePass 2.0 app

Below, you can see the four sample screens of the MoviePass 2.0 app, with windows for selecting moves and showtimes. Here, you can see the varying credits per showtime.

MoviePass 2.0 app screens

(Image credit: MoviePass via YouTube)

MoviePass 2.0 announcement event

At the event, Spikes gave a history of MoviePass and a sort of blueprint for MoviePass 2.0, starting off with laughs about the change of management and how catastrophic MoviePass' failure was. With a graphic of a flaming phoenix rising from the ashes behind him, Spikes tries to explain what happened to renew confidence, acknowledging those who lost money, as well as those who lost trust and were hurt and disappointed. 

He then spoke to the "seasoned entrepreneurs" who he believed caused a lot of the problems. Watch it for yourself, including the part when he talks about "sitting at home feeling sorry for [himself]."

Spikes even proposed a "moonshot" goal of 30% of moviegoers (by 2030) becoming MoviePass subscribers, which he said would double the annual attendance and revenue of the movie industry.

Oh, and speaking of movies: we're curious if you agree on our take on the one thing Netflix gets wrong. Looking for something to watch before the Super Bowl? Check our our guide to the UFC 271 live stream.

Henry T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.