MoviePass Scandal Exposed: Allegations of Spending Caps and Changing User Passwords
The ignominious fall of MoviePass, the once-heralded movie ticket subscription service, continues unabated with wild reporting about the alleged depths the company was willing to stoop to in order to try and stay solvent.
According to Business Insider, CEO Mitch Lowe ordered his employees to change the passwords of heavy MoviePass users so they would not be able to log on and use the service. You heard that right: instead of figuring out some other way to offset costs (or, you know, doing some actual math before dropping the price to an unsustainable $9.99 per month in the first place), he targeted heavy users and changed their passwords without their knowledge.
Business Insider spent four months working on an article that chronicled MoviePass’s rise and fall, and the company changing users’ passwords is just the tip of the iceberg. After the company ran out of money in July 2018 and had to borrow $5 million in cash to keep it afloat, this happened:
“…the temporary loss of cash led Lowe to make “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” among the most anticipated releases of the year, unavailable on MoviePass. He also ordered that half of subscribers be frozen out the weekend of its release, former employees said. Complaints once again appeared online, leading MoviePass to send out a tweet saying it was “working on a fix towards this technical issue.”
In the wake of the Mission: Impossible fiasco, things somehow got even worse.
Per Lowe’s orders, big blockbusters would no longer be available on the app. MoviePass also enforced what it called a “trip wire,” an automatic shutdown mechanism for all users that would be activated if MoviePass went past a certain amount balance. If money ever ran out, subscribers would see the following message on the app: “There are no more screenings at this theater today.”
The trip wire started at a few million dollars, but eventually it wound down to a few hundred thousand.
“It was a guessing game,” said a former staffer. “There were some days we actually got all the way through without the trip wire going off.”
Despite losing a colossal number of subscribers over the course of the past year, MoviePass is still technically clinging to life, but a compliance counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice told Business Insider that MoviePass’s behavior is “certainly unethical and could be illegal,” so it seems as if the company’s days are all but numbered.