What Is MoviePass and How Does It Work?

An inside look into the movie theater service subscription

Screenshot of MoviePass Instagram Photo of MoviePass debit card


As of July 2019, MoviePass shut down the service, possibly for "several weeks" while it works to improve its mobile app. If you try to access the service, but cannot, give it a few weeks and then try again.

MoviePass is a movie subscription service that lets you watch movies at participating theaters. The lower-tiered plan allows you to watch up to three movies per month, and one per calendar day. On the higher tier (called Uncapped) you're not limited on the number of movies you can see each month, but you are still limited to one per calendar day. You can only watch a particular movie with MoviePass once, and the service is available every day of the year at select theaters.

MoviePass works through an app that you download on your smartphone, available for Android. The app uses location tracking, as you can only check in to see a movie through MoviePass when you are located within 100 yards of the movie theater.

The instructions in this article apply to Android 5.0 or later.

What Movies Are Available With MoviePass?

MoviePass is available for a selection of films that includes a mix of independent and new releases. Each Wednesday MoviePass lists films available to purchase. Showtimes for major releases may be restricted on opening weekends. At theaters that offer MoviePass e-ticketing, all movies and showtimes are available with MoviePass without restrictions.

If you are worried that the movie you want to see may be sold out, purchase your ticket that morning. Go to the theater and check in with MoviePass and purchase the ticket to use later in the day.

How Much Does MoviePass Cost?

MoviePass has had frequent fee changes over the past year. Keep in mind that there are regional variations on pricing, based on your shipping address and cost for movie tickets in your area.

In the past, the MoviePass plans have varied between $9.95 and $19.95 per month. Some plans give you theater access to as many movies as you want to watch each month, but cap the number of tickets you buy to one per day. Some plans lock you into the monthly price for one year.

If you purchase an annual plan, your monthly fee will not go up during the term of the plan, but you also cannot cancel the service before the end of the plan term you agreed to.

When you consider that movie tickets at the theater can cost more than $10 per ticket, MoviePass offers a significant discount if you watch more than three movies per month. The only catch is which movies MoviePass makes available each month.

Where Can I Use MoviePass?

MoviePass is accepted at most theaters throughout the United States, including large chains and independent theaters. You can use the MoviePass app to search for participating theaters by zip code or by searching from your current location.

MoviePass Rules

Take the time to read and understand the rules and restrictions associated with using MoviePass. MoviePass will charge you $25 for breaking the rules.

  • You must be 18 years or older to purchase a MoviePass account.
  • Movies do not carry over from month to month if you don't see three movies per month.
  • As stated above, you must be within 100 yards of the theater to check-in at a movie. This means that if you want to check-in early for a very popular movie, you will have to be physically present at the theater at an earlier time to purchase the ticket.
  • You cannot pre-buy movie tickets days in advance.
  • You can cancel a check-in and choose another movie to see that day by tapping the Cancel/ Change Check-in at the bottom of the confirmation screen.
  • Some theaters offer e-tickets that allow you to drop the 100-yard location requirement. It's important to remember that e-tickets cannot be canceled or changed.
  • Sharing your MoviePass card with anyone else is prohibited.
  • You cannot use the MoviePass card to purchase concessions, gift cards or any other purchase.
  • You must have your MoviePass debit card to purchase your movie ticket at the theater.

How Do I Get Started With MoviePass?

You can sign up for MoviePass through the MoviePass webpage or through your mobile device. Here's how:

  1. Download the MoviePass app to your phone, or visit the MoviePass webpage and tap or click the Get Started button.

    The MoviePass home page with the Get Started link highlighted
  2. Create an account by filling in your name and address. Enter your birthday to confirm you are over the age of 18.

  3. You will also be asked to confirm that you have a mobile device running iOS 10.2 or later, or Android 5.0 or later, which is required to run the app.

  4. You will have to provide your mailing address to receive your MoviePass card.

    MoviePass screenshot to enter street address for card to be sent
  5. On the next screen, provide the credit card information you'll use for payment.

  6. Once you've completed creating your account, you'll have to wait for your MoviePass debit card to come in the mail. It can take up to two weeks to arrive.

How to Activate Your MoviePass Card

When your MoviePass debit card arrives, you'ill need to activate it before you can start using the card to watch movies. Here's how:

  1. Open the MoviePass app on your smartphone.

  2. Tap Activate your MoviePass card.

  3. You'll be prompted to take a picture of your debit card. Click Camera Activation to take a picture of the front of the card. If you prefer, you can skip the photo and activate your card by entering the last 4 digits of your card number.

    Screenshot showing MoviePass card activation
  4. Once your card is activated you can begin using MoviePass.

How to Use MoviePass to Find Movies

Scroll through the MoviePass app to find available movies. Not all movies that are showing at the theater are available to MoviePass subscribers on specific days. MoviePass explains this on their website by saying:

"Your movie choices may be restricted due to excessive individual usage which negatively impacts system-wide capacity."

Here's how the process works:

  1. MoviePass will show you a list of theaters near you using your location. If you want to change the location, enter a zip code.

    Where to find available movie theaters in MoviePass
  2. Once you select a movie theater, MoviePass shows you a list of showtimes for today.

  3. Select the time you would like to see the movie.

    Double-check movie times on the movie theater's app. Sometimes there are glitches in MoviePass's data feeds that can cause them to be inaccurate. Checking with an outside source will ensure you arrive at the theater on time.

  4. Check-in with MoviePass on your smartphone when you are near the theater. The MoviePass app uses location services to verify that you are located within 100 yards of the theater before you can check-in.

    Screenshot showing MoviePass check in
  5. Once you check-in, MoviePass will load your debit card with the full cost of the ticket.

  6. Pay for your ticket at the theater with your MoviePass debit card. You have 30 minutes to purchase your ticket after checking in, or you'll lose the transaction and you won't be able to see another movie that day.

How to Cancel MoviePass

If you purchased an annual plan, MoviePass does not offer prorated refunds. You will still be charged the annual subscription for the remainder of your contract if it is still in effect. MoviePass subscriptions purchased through Costco also do not allow prorated refunds. If you do cancel an annual plan, you will have access to the MoviePass service until your contract term expires.

To cancel your MoviePass subscription you will need to use the MoviePass mobile app. Here's how:

  1. Tap Account > Account Details.

  2. At the bottom, tap Plan & Billing > Cancel.

  3. Enter a reason for cancellation. Tap Cancel Subscription.

  4. A final warning appears asking if you are sure you want to cancel. Tap Cancel Membership.

If you decide to reactivate your account after you've canceled it, you will need to sign up for a new MoviePass card.

Warning: MoviePass Is Tracking You

MoviePass tracks your use of the app and collects information related to how you use the service, including the movies you watch, payment history, location, and device types.

MoviePass may also disclose this information, anonymously, to third parties, including movie studios, and MoviePass partners who want to track the movies you see and where. MoviePass may also place a pixel on its website that provides anonymous data about users. They assure users that this data "contains no personally identifiable information. Instead, it consists of a unique ID that is tied to a particular device."