everything old is new again

MoviePass 2.0 is here and it runs on... sigh, the blockchain

“I love product placement in movies.”

MoviePass CEO Stacy Spikes

Stacy Spikes, the founder of MoviePass, announced on Thursday that the defunct service will relaunch this summer “powered by web3 technology.”

The subscription movie ticket service, which is best known for bleeding more than $100 million in a single quarter and filing for bankruptcy in 2020, is rebranding into a crypto-powered “end-to-end cinematic marketplace.” At this point, details such as pricing have not been released.

The MoviePass of early 2018 that 3 million of us knew and loved (or the company that let you bankrupt one deeply-discounted movie at a time) is gone. The firm Helios and Matheson Analytics, which bought a majority stake in the company in 2017 and subsequently ran it straight into the ground, will no longer be involved. When discussing the previous follies of MoviePass, Spikes displayed a photo of the Hindenberg Disaster. In November 2021, he bought back the company from New York bankruptcy court for just $14,000, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Eyeball tracking— At a press event at Walter Reade Theater Lincoln Center in NYC on Thursday, CEO Stacy Spikes said that MoviePass will run on tradable credits that roll over month to month (read: no more unlimited movies). To get movie showings, users can either purchase credits or watch ads. Using a feature called pre-show, MoviePass customers will earn credits after watching ads on their phones. To make sure people actually watch, Spikes says the app will track users’ eyeballs as a “transaction between you and the brand."

“Advertisers have put a pre-show together not unlike what you’d normally see when you go to a movie theater but this is customized for you,” Spikes says.

Decked out in a Steve Jobs-style black turtleneck, the founder demonstrated the eyeball-tracking technology in front of the auditorium. “As I’m looking at it, it’s playing back. But if I stop and I’m not paying attention to it, it actually pauses the content.”

“We had an early version of this where you know what happened: people put the phone down and left and didn’t pay any attention to it. Right now 70 percent of video advertising is unseen.”

The eye-tracking ads will play on the MoviePass customer’s phone. “Part of the direction we’re doing from a web3 perspective is this is happening only on your phone, uniquely to you, and the credits that are earned are your credits that go into your virtual wallet that you get to spend,” Spikes said.

He’s that guy— “I love product placement in movies," said CEO Stacy Spikes. “I’m the person that has a notepad and I’m writing down ‘is that Hugo Boss’? I’m that guy.” Ah yes, the guy who loves product placement in movies.

Maybe this summer we’ll find ourselves watching pre-roll ads in exchange for tiny discounts on tickets and reminiscing about that halcyon period of unlimited movies and unsustainable business.