AMC Theatres, the world’s largest commercial-cinema chain, announced today that it is introducing a new tier of its Stubs loyalty program called AMC Stubs A-List. For $19.95 (plus tax) per month, subscribers can see up to three movies per week at any AMC theater in the US, including Dolby Cinema, IMAX, Prime, RealD 3D, and BigD as well as Dine-In locations. Just about any movie is included, with the possible exception of Fathom Events shows, special fan events, and some Indian Cinema titles.
You can see any movie more than once and even see multiple movies in one day with a two-hour buffer between show times. You can also book tickets, including reserved seats, in advance or on the spur of the moment. Up to three advanced reservations will be held at a time. However, there’s no rollover from one week to the next.
Subscribing to AMC Stubs A-List includes all the benefits of Stubs Premiere, which otherwise costs $15/year. These benefits include food and drink discounts, no online ticketing fees, and express service at the theater.
You can subscribe to AMC Stubs A-List starting Tuesday, June 26. There is no waiting period after enrollment and no special card you need to carry. The program is entirely web- and smartphone-based.
Of course, AMC Stubs A-List competes directly with MoviePass, which offers a similar sort of subscription plan for going out to the movies. However, MoviePass can be used at various theater chains, including AMC, Regal, and Cinemark. The MoviePass website claims that the service can be used at over 91% of theaters in the US. The main subscription plan costs $9.95/month and lets you see one “regular” 2D movie per day. For a limited time, you can also opt to pay $7.95/month for three movies per month plus a three-month free trial of iHeartRadio.
There are a few downsides. For example, once you sign up, you must wait to receive a special MoviePass card in the mail. Also, you can’t reserve tickets in advance; you must use the MoviePass app to search for the movie and showtime you want and “check in” once you get to the theater. You then use the card to obtain your ticket, which must be within 30 minutes of checking in. Finally, you can’t see a given movie more than once using MoviePass, and the service does not support enhanced presentations that involve an upcharge at the theater, such as IMAX, 3D, and Dolby Cinema.
Perhaps the biggest drawback is that MoviePass might not be long for this world. According to many recent news stories, the company is losing money hand over fist, even with more than 2 million subscribers. (I keep thinking of the old joke: “We’re losing money on each sale, but we make it up in volume!”)
In addition, the theater chains it works with are now introducing subscription services of their own. Along with AMC Stubs A-List, Cinemark recently unveiled its Movie Club, which lets you see one “regular” 2D movie per month for $8.99/month, and unused credits never expire.
Granted, AMC Stubs A-List is twice as expensive as MoviePass, and it’s good only at AMC theaters for three movies per week rather than one every day. But it includes enhanced presentations, and you can order tickets in advance. Also, AMC is the exclusive home of Dolby Cinemas in the US, which is always my first choice for a commercial-cinema venue. With ticket prices at about $20 for a seat in a Dolby Cinema or IMAX theater, AMC Stubs A-List is worth it if you see more than one movie per month in one of those formats.