MoviePass Inc. announced that it has raised its seed funding led by Hong Kong-based game software, blockchain and venture capital company Animoca Brands. The seed round also included participation from Claritus Capital, Emerald Plus, Gaingels, Harlem Capital, PKO VC and Sandhill Angels. As part of the deal, Animoca brand executive chairman and co-founder Yat Siu will join the board of MoviePass, a subscription movie-going service.
MoviePass declined to say how much money it raised as part of the seed funding round. MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes, who bought the company in late 2021, said she plans to raise another round of funding in late 2023 or sometime in 2024. At that point, he hopes that the theater box office will bounce back from the pandemic. Right now, movie theaters are still struggling to fill seats post-Covid and studios have released fewer films.
“The markets are crazy, and we didn’t want to go in there and crash,” Spikes said. “We got what we needed. I’d rather have a big increase in the 2023 window after a slate of better content.”
It’s been a tumultuous few years for MoviePass, which experienced explosive growth after introducing a $9.95 monthly subscription plan in 2017, only to go bankrupt in 2020. The company was reacquired by Spikes about a year later (Spikes was let go shortly after selling a controlling stake in the company to Helios and Matheson, which set an unlikely price). Spikes has announced that he will be relaunching the service in 2022 He said he had not considered changing the company’s name, even though MoviePass suffered several outages as its financial problems worsened when it got online.
“Why start with another name?” Spikes said. “When we reopened, we saw a strong response from opening the waiting list. It made us realize that the brand was not tarnished.”
MoviePass said it plans to use the new funding to accelerate the beta relaunch of its movie theater subscription service and to develop and implement the company’s Web3 strategy, which includes virtual reality cinema experiences and using the technology to drive traffic to theaters. Spikes said Animoca Brands believes there is overlap between movie consumers and fans of the metaverse and blockchain.
“We’re both thinking about what the future of cinema is,” says Spikes. “We are of the same mind.”
MoviePass will also partner with theater exhibitors and studios to offer movie fans variable ticket prices, meaning costs will increase or decrease depending on the popularity or demand of a particular title.
The MoviePass beta version is now live in nine US markets, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Tampa Bay. The company currently has 10 employees.
The company has developed strategic partnerships with over 25 cinema chains including B&B Theatres, Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas and Landmark Theatres. These partnerships will allow moviegoers to purchase tickets, select seats and receive promotional offers directly through the MoviePass app.
“MoviePass has a strong vision for technology in entertainment, and our investment demonstrates our commitment to maximizing the value that MoviePass can bring to the film industry,” Siu said in a statement. “With initiatives to increase traffic to theaters, engage audiences with enhanced cinema experiences, connect studios and their franchise characters with movie fans, and make financing more accessible to aspiring filmmakers, we believe MoviePass will help define the future of cinema.”