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MoviePass is relaunching — and it wants to track your eyeballs

MoviePass is back from the dead — and it wants to track your eyeballs. The subscription movie ticket service is relaunching this summer, nearly three years after the company first folded in 2019, CEO Stacy Spikes said at a press event in Manhattan on Thursday. MoviePass’ new subscription service won’t offer unlimited movies anymore, but will instead introduce a tiered subscription system, Spikes said. Similarly to fitness startup Classpass, MoviePass customers will buy credits that they can then redeem for movie showings. But Spikes also showed off another way that customers will be able to earn credits: watching ads and having their eyeballs tracked. Using a feature called “pre-show,” MoviePass customers will get credits in exchange for watching ads on their phones. To make sure they’re actually watching, the app will track users’ eyeballs, Spikes said. “What it does is it basically creates a transaction between you and the brand,” the CEO said, wearing a black turtleneck and pacing the stage in the style of Steve Jobs. “Your phone, your device uses your own facial detection,” Spikes added. “It doesn’t go to the cloud, nobody goes through anything other than you and your information in yours. And you opt in to do it on your own.” He portrayed the “pre-show” feature as an extension of product placement in movies. “I love product placement in movies,” Spikes said. “I love the cars, I love the watches, I love the clothes. I’m that person that sometimes has a notepad and I’m writing down, is that Hugo Boss?” Under MoviePass’ new credit system, in-demand movies at prime times will require more credits, whereas matinees of less popular films will take fewer, Spikes said. He said the system would help movies fill theaters on slower days. A MoviePass spokesperson did not say how much credits will cost or provide details on differences between the “tiered plans” when reached for comment by The Post. In its original incarnation, MoviePass had offered customers unlimited movie tickets for just $10 a month — a money-losing strategy that drew more than 3 million customers but ultimately led the company to bankruptcy after it bled more than $100 million in a single quarter. Moviepass first hinted at its plans for a relaunch in November, when Spikes bought the company in New York bankruptcy court for a meager $14,000. He said in court filings that company was testing a “new proposed business model with a sample group of 1,000 customers” in late 2021. The filings did not provide details of the new business model but did show that Spikes wanted to launch a full-fledged MoviePass comeback in the fall or winter of 2022. Spikes originally co-founded in 2011 but the service only gained steam in 2017 after it was purchased by Helios and Matheson Analytics, a data analytics firm. That was when the company introduced its $10 unlimited movie tickets deal, supercharging its growth. Spikes says that at the time he questioned whether the $10-a-month model was sustainable and says he was fired by the app’s new owners in 2018 over those concerns. “There was a really big difference in the belief of the way the company should go forward,” Spikes said during Thursday’s presentation. “And we all kind of know what happened after that.” MoviePass ultimately folded after customers abused the company’s model by binge-watching the same films over and over, buying tickets for friends and family who didn’t subscribe to the service, and in some cases, purchasing a movie ticket just “to go to the restroom in Times Square,” Ted Farnsworth, then the CEO of Helios and Matheson Analytics, told The Post at the time of its shutdown in 2019. Adding to its problems was the fact that movie theater chains like AMC and Cinemark began to roll out their own ticket subscription services, causing MoviePass to add new fees to the biggest films and prime time slots. In September 2019, it shut down indefinitely, with its parent company filing for bankruptcy four months later. Additional reporting by Alexandra Steigrad

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