Commentary

MoviePass Flickers As 'Fallout' Lights Up The Weekend Box Office

MoviePass borrowed $5 million on Friday to keep the lights on and the servers running but some are suggesting that it may be playing a game of “Mission Impossible.”

The Washington Post’s Rachel Podnar cites one all-too-apt tweet by @hansoleaux, the self-described brand ambassador for “SOLO: A Star Wars Story!”: “movie pass is the family that just left candy in a bowl on their porch on halloween that just said ‘please take one!’ and are horrified when it’s empty 30 seconds later.”

Indeed, “the all-you-can-watch subscription service, which first crashed on Thursday night after its parent company ran out of cash, never fully got back up to speed over the weekend and thus left many subscribers unable to buy tickets to the weekend’s hottest movie, according to frustrated subscribers, many of whom took to social media to vent their frustrations,” Nicolas Vega reports for the New York Post.

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MoviePass, which claims more than three million subscribers, “is a service that allows subscribers to pay a flat fee every month to see multiple movies. For $9.95 a month, the service promises that movie fans can see a movie a day,” Dalvin Brown reminds us for USA Today.

Parent company Helios and Matheson “said that it had a service outage on Thursday because it couldn’t afford to pay for movie tickets. The company borrowed $5 million in cash Friday to pay its merchant and fulfillment processors, according to a regulatory filing,” writes Jill Disis for CNN Money.

The fulfillment processor had temporarily refused to process payments for MoviePass.

“Some customers complained on social media Thursday that they couldn't use their MoviePass accounts to purchase movie tickets at theaters. By Friday afternoon, MoviePass said that its app was ‘now up-and-running with stability at 100%,’” Disis adds.

Michael Pachter, a research analyst at Wedbush Securities, “predicted last week’s outage will not be the last to affect MoviePass,” writes Mihir Zaveri for the New York Times.

“The $5 million was that last breath of oxygen,” Pachter tells Zaveri. “And now we’re deciding if we’re going to cut off their oxygen.”

But who knows? Maybe it’ll not only pull off another stunt, it will also make a virtue of its daring-do. Just like “Mission: Impossible Fallout” has.

In some ways, Paramount/Viacom’s marketing for the movie is as notable for what it doesn’t do as it is for for it does. When seven posters for “Mission: Impossible Fallout” rolled out in May, Forbes’ Scott Mendelson observed: “A) there are three women featured among the nine posters (1/3 almost counts as progress these days) and B) the Vanessa Kirby, Rebecca Ferguson or Angela Bassett posters feature no conventionally salacious imagery. Sure, Vanessa Kirby looks dressed-to-kill, but she is literally dressed-to-kill as she looks about ready to slash a throat or two.

“It's a minor detail, but if you remember the slight disapproval over ‘Rogue Nation’s’ marketing (where Ferguson’s character poster was a conventional ‘boobs and butt’ pose image), it’s nice to see that sometimes folks take notice the next time out.”

Less-blatant sex sells, too, it appears. 

“The sixth installment in the ‘Mission: Impossible’ action films starring Tom Cruise posted the biggest debut … collecting an estimated $61.5 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, researcher comScore Inc. estimated in a email Sunday,” Anousha Sakoui writes for Bloomberg.

Marketing for “Fallout” instead “Banks on Daredevil Action Scenes,” according to the hed for Chris Thilk’s detailed analysis for the The Hollywood Reporter.

“There’s a bit in one of the final featurettes released by Paramount, a 360-degree video focusing once again on the stunts of the movie, where Cruise says ‘Obviously, Mission is about practical action’ that really sums up the campaign. Not only is the emphasis on the incredible sequences being shot and the star’s willingness to put himself in danger, but the dedication to practical effects instead of green-screened stunts offers the audience a more genuine, visceral thrill.

The campaign as a whole shows the evolution of the franchise, which started out as mostly espionage in 1996 but has evolved into a showcase for daredevil action sequences,” Thilk continues.

It also, kinda sorta, proves the veracity of an old showbiz adage: “break a leg.”

“Paramount was strategically perfect in their marketing and publicity game,” says comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian,” writes the AP’s Lindsey Bahr. “They showed how important a star's presence is in marketing the movie early on. Tom Cruise broke his ankle, and they made that into a positive for the movie — it fed the mystique.”

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