Movie ticket subscription service MoviePass seemed to be getting over its bad PR slump, only to find itself being hit on two fronts this week.
First there’s AMC who announced their own new $19.95 a month movie ticket program, Stubs A-List, which gives its members three tickets a week to any film, in any format (Imax, 3D, or Dolby) at any time and without the restrictions that come with MoviePass.
MoviePass responded with two snarky tweets saying: “Heard AMC Theaters jumped on board the movie subscription train. Twice the price for 1/4 the theater network and 60% fewer movies. Thanks for making us look good AMC… AMC has repeatedly disparaged our model as a way to discourage our growth because all along they wanted to launch their own, more expensive plan. We want to make movies more accessible, they want more profit.”
In the wake of the announcement MoviePass also revealed plans to test new features over the next few months including charging subscribers $2 to see movies that are popular (ie. blockbuster films during their opening weekends), and a new ‘bring a friend’ option for an added fee as well as a premium option that will let users see films in 3D or IMAX theaters.
Then came the issue of “Gotti,” the John Travolta-led film which scored an ignominious 0% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and only earned $1.7 million at the box-office. MoviePass held a financial stake in the film, and accounted for a big portion of its meagre ticket sales, with ads for it this week claiming audiences have embraced the film.
That ad ties into the Rotten Tomatoes audience score for the film which was considerably better than the 0% of the critics. But both Screen Junkies critic Dan Murrell and a Reddit user have taken deeper looks at those user reviews and found something a little off.
“Gotti” had just over 7,000 audience reviews on the site, compared to the 7,600 audience reviews for “Incredibles 2” – that’s definitely a little odd considering “Incredibles 2” earned over one hundred times as much as “Gotti” on opening weekend. Additionally it has been reported that most of the first few dozen reviewers with an available profile appear to have created their account in June, and many of them have only reviewed “Gotti” and/or double reviewed it with “American Animals” which are really only linked by the fact MoviePass has financial stakes in both.
That has led to a claim that MoviePass has been artificially enhancing Rotten Tomatoes’ audience review scores. io9 sought statements from both companies regarding this and their responses were as follows:
Rotten Tomatoes: “We closely monitor our platforms and haven’t determined there to be any problems. All of the reviews were left by active accounts.”
MoviePass: “The MoviePass marketing team is only engaged in sending promotional emails and push notifications to our users. We have no further involvement from a marketing perspective and have no insight or information about who is providing the audience reviews to Rotten Tomatoes.”
While “Gotti” may be a dud, “American Animals” has been embraced by critics as one of the year’s best and its high audience score (91%) on Rotten Tomatoes has been seen as legit (it has had 617 audience reviews).