Cinemark announces new subscription service for movie theater fans

Cinemark Holdings ( CNK ), the third-largest US theater chain, on Tuesday announced the launch of a movie subscription membership program that gives customers discounts on tickets, concessions and other benefits.

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The Los Angeles Times reports Cinemark's move is a response to MoviePass, a new start-up that offers unlimited movies in theaters for $9.95 a month. It's another reflection of how the concepts of association membership are slowly but surely going mainstream. Dedicated cinephiles could save hundreds every month in their film-going budget, and casual movie-goers had an incentive to head to the theater rather than watch on the home screen. Instead, the Movie Club has subscribers pay a monthly fee of $8.99 and in return customers can see one regular 2D movie a month (with additional tickets costing $8.99) and receive a 20 percent discount at the concession stand.

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"Based on the feedback we received, we designed Movie Club with all of the features and benefits that moviegoers desire most in a membership program without any of the hassle, enabling our guests to enjoy the moviegoing experience with their friends and family", Zoradi said in a news release. Unused tickets will roll over and never expire for active members. "Maybe we can encourage that person to come six or seven times a year". "It was to increase attendance and remove all of the pain points around it", he added.

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Currently, many movie theaters including AMC and Regal say Movie Pass is creating an unsustainable model that will hurt the industry in the long run. That's a big cash expenditure for a business with limited paths to profitability: it can convince theater chains to participate and give them a big discount (Dallas-based Studio Movie Grill is one of the few theaters that sells tickets directly through MoviePass), it can rely on having enough inactive subscribers to subsidize the heavy users, and it can sell user data to interested companies. Cinemark may be the first to respond, but it's likely others will follow suit.

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