TORONTO — Cineplex Inc. hopes moviegoers who missed the big screen will join the club.
Canada’s largest movie theater operator announced plans to launch a monthly subscription program on Wednesday that offers a small selection of perks and discounts at the multiplex.
CineClub will cost $9.99 a month – less than the price of a movie ticket – and will give members a free movie every month, as well as cheaper “members price” tickets and a 20% discount on concession items.
Cineplex representatives did not respond to requests for more details about the announcement, which was featured in Star Cineplex, the relaunched version of Cineplex Magazine under its new owner, Torstar Corp.
The CineClub membership program comes as cinema operators around the world look for ways to get people back into the habit of going to the movies after the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated viewers’ already changing habits.
Many movie theaters across Canada have been closed for much of the year as shutdowns have spread across the country, delaying many of last year’s standout films or skipping them altogether in favor streaming platforms.
Some films have been acquired by Netflix, while several Disney titles have launched on the company’s streaming platform for free for subscribers. Other films have landed on digital rental services at a higher price.
Theater chains hoped a slate of mostly delayed summer titles would entice audiences to leave their homes, but the results have been mixed at best.
Recent big-budget Hollywood movies, including ‘Jungle Cruise’ and ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’, opened to respectable numbers the first weekend at the North American box office to see ticket sales plummet the second weekend.
This has led some industry prognosticators to suggest that loyal fans show up at the start of a film, while casual viewers largely stay away.
In Canada, most provinces have implemented cinema capacity limits to maintain distance between seats, while concerns about new strains of the virus that cause COVID-19 raise questions about how the list of fall films could unfold.
Cineplex’s CineClub comes just over a decade after the launch of MoviePass, a bankrupt US company that offered a flat-rate, pay-as-you-go subscription model. The model attracted a lot of attention for its bold approach and ultimately a series of technical issues and service interruptions.
MoviePass filed for bankruptcy in early 2020.
American movie chain AMC has launched its own free loyalty program, AMC Stubs, with an additional subscription tier that costs US$15 per year for free refills, free online ticket reservations and other benefits, some of which are already available to all Cineplex customers.
Cineplex also operates the Scene rewards program in partnership with Scotiabank.
Companies in this story: (TSX:CGX), (TSX:BNS)
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 7, 2021.
Torstar holds an investment in The Canadian Press under a joint agreement with affiliates of The Globe and Mail and La Presse de Montreal.
By David Friend, The Canadian Press