Subscription services are my favorite scam. I love them. As a marketing professional, I’m really fascinated at how subscription services have essentially re-branded paying bills from a negative, necessary evil to an enjoyable entertainment experience. There are people who dread paying their rent or mortgage or student loan payments or car notes (or all of the above) despite needing a place to live, a car to drive, etc. Yet those same people wouldn’t dare miss their monthly access to Netflix or Spotify or Dropbox or Dollar Shave Club… you get the picture. As a scammer, Subscriptions as a Service (SaaS) are easy money. The best SaaS companies charge a seemingly innocuous subscription fee—$9.99/month here, $89/year there—that users won’t miss very much when doing their monthly budgeting. This means that even if people aren’t absolutely crazy about your service, they are more likely to continue paying for it than cancelling it. And they are insanely popular. The category has grown nearly 800% since 2014. So, Cinemark (yeah, the movie theater) launching their own subscription service doesn’t come as a surprise.

The movie theater business (or the popcorn business as I once heard a local drug dealer refer to it) has been scamming their customers for a long time. Interestingly enough, the movie theaters take a multi-level marketing scam approach. The first step is paying a certain fee just to get into the movie ($17.68 is the current national average for two tickets to a regular movie). Next, you’ve got to get some concessions. The average movie run time hovers around 2 hours and if you’re anything like me, you’re going to need a snack or two. A small popcorn and small drink will run you about $10.40 at Cinemark. I should note that the small size is most certainly just enough for one person, so if you’re on a date you might want to double that. For most, you’re probably thinking the scam ends here but you’re wrong. You forgot about movies in iMax and 3D. Those movie ticket prices come at a premium—starting at $34 for two tickets here in California. So, let’s say you and bae go out for a night at the movies and you want to see a brand new movie that was just released that is only available in iMax or 3D—which is how most new releases are rolled out these days *eyeroll*— you’re looking at a nice $54.80 date. Please note that does not include the cost of dinner before or after the movie. This is why Netflix and Chill™ is so popular. Even the brokest of broke bois have $9.99/month for the movie streaming service, $54.80 is a lot harder to come up on if you’re broke, single, and dating a bunch of people.

“We want people currently going to theaters four or five times per year to go six or seven times.”
—Mark Zoradi, Chief Executive of Cinemark

The rising cost of going to see a movie has had a negative effect on movie goers. And, to be quite honest, the movie theater scam of yesterday can’t pull in the same cash when competing with on-demand services like Netflix, Redbox, and even same-day release rentals being offered through Comcast’s Xfinity. Even if theaters are equipped with fancy assigned seating now.  MoviePass, a different movie subscription service, caught wind of this a few years ago. With MoviePass, you pay $9.95/month and you get to see up to one movie in a theater everyday if you want to. All you need is a card they provide you with and your smartphone. It doesn’t save you anything on concessions though, and if you want to take bae you either have to pay full price for them or buy them a subscription too.

Cinemark’s subscription service—called the Cinemark Movie Club—will cost $8.99/month and include 20% off concessions. If I wasn’t already aware of being scammed, I’d consider this a good deal. But I wonder what Hollywood will think. The Wall Street Journal reports that with this new movie club, studios will get their revenue cut based on the $8.99 price versus the $17 price. Drama!

Anyway, remember to always be subscribing and scam today before the day scams you!

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