Cinemark Holdings Inc., the nation’s third-largest theater chain, has launched a subscription program that gives customers discounts on tickets and concessions, in the latest effort to boost attendance.
The Plano, Texas-based company on Tuesday said customers who pay a monthly fee of $8.99 will receive a credit for one movie ticket a month. Subscribers can also buy additional tickets for $8.99 each and get a 20% discount on food and drinks.
Cinemark’s offer, dubbed Movie Club, marks the latest move by theater chains to draw customers at a time when cinemas are contending with increased competition from other forms of entertainment, especially streaming services in the home such as Netflix. It’s also the cinema industry’s first direct answer to MoviePass, a New York start-up that offers unlimited movies in theaters for $9.95 a month.
Theater chains have long resisted discounting tickets, fearing that doing so would erode profits. But long-term pressures on the industry have prompted some exhibitors to rethink their opposition.
Cinemas have experienced a steady decline in domestic moviegoing in the last decade. The number of tickets sold in the U.S. and Canada hit 1.32 billion last year, compared with 1.4 billion a decade ago, according to the Motion Picture Assn. of America. Box office revenues this year are down 4% so far, according to ComScore, thanks to movies that flopped.
The Cinemark deal also comes just months after MoviePass sparked a backlash from cinema giant AMC Entertainment when it reduced its monthly rate to $9.95 this summer. It previously charged up to $50 a month.
That represents a substantial discount for moviegoers. The average domestic ticket price (including matinee showings) reached a near record level of $8.93 in the quarter that ended in September, according to the National Assn. of Theatre Owners, a trade group for the exhibition industry. In places like Los Angeles and New York, the cost of moviegoing is much higher.