As pop culture journalists—and not, say, medical school textbook authors, those high-flying hotshots of the written word—we really don’t get enough opportunities to use the word “hemorrhage” in our day-to-day lives. Which is why we’re feeling especially grateful to embattled movie ticket subscription service MoviePass this week, as reports emerge that the company has been absolutely hemorrhaging subscribers over the last 12 months—even more than you might have thought—as it continues to struggle to find some way to convince its remaining customers that its once-ubiquitous subscriber cards are worth more than the plastic they’re printed on.
This is per Variety, which quotes a Business Insider report that says the service lost a catastrophic 90 percent of users over the last year, a financial exsanguination (!) that saw it drop from more than 3 million subscribers at its peak to a measly 225,000 grouping of diehards and folks who have somehow forgotten to unsubscribe. (MoviePass has refused to confirm those numbers, which, hey, good on you for the stiff upper lip, you plucky little unworkable business model, you.) Consumer confidence does not appear to have been significantly buoyed by the company’s plans to return to an “unlimited” subscription option at $14.95 per month, especially since said unlimited option still sounds pretty fucking limited. (Language surrounding the Uncapped plan makes it clear that if too many people try to see a movie, the company will start restricting availability again, making it a primo choice for people who like gambling with their free time just as much as they like watching films.)
And yet, somehow, MoviePass trucks on, putting us in mind of the heartwarming fable of The Little Engine That Definitively Couldn’t, And Yet Still Managed To Somehow Attract New Infusions Of Investor Capital At Periodic Intervals. The service’s parent company, Helios & Matheson Analytics, posted an operating loss of $327.4 million last year, a financial failure alternatively attributed to unpredictable market forces, the whims of the invisible hand, and the fact that everyone now actively loathes the product that it primarily sells. The company has responded to its current woes in the only way one could expect: With a pledge “to accelerate MoviePass’ product development, fine tune its subscription technology, and increase MoviePass Films’ investment in new films.” Which is great news for Big Shovels You Use To Toss Your Money Into A Big, Empty Hole, possibly the only industry not getting burnt by this particular deal.