After an extremely rough year, MoviePass attempts to ‘refocus’

So, like, maybe you had a bad 2018. But ask yourself: was it MoviePass bad? The company was flying high over the summer with a popular movie ticket subscription service that appeared too good to be true. It was, of course, as it swiftly came down to earth on a pair of melted wax wings.

MoviePass has tried all manner of new directions, as it has hemorrhaged money, including frequently changing plans, fundraising and borrowing money. Producing and purchasing distribution rights to films has long been a key to the company’s planned turnaround as well, and now it’s highlighting a “refocus” that more heavily involves that side of the business.

The “new strategic direction” involves three pillars: the MoviePass service, the MoviePass production wing and Moviefone, which its parent company purchased from Verizon Media (Oath, at the time, because the corporate world is a maddening place).

“Our new business model no longer depends on achieving revenues from studios or exhibitors to succeed,” the company writes in a news release, “but instead will prioritize the economic relationship among our MoviePass subscription service, MoviePass Films production business and Moviefone multimedia media information and advertising service.”

Basically the company thinks it can do a better job sharing and leveraging resources. Of course, if the plan is to rely largely on MoviePass-produced content, it’s going to have a tough road. While it notes that it has “committed to offering a wide inventory of movies and enhanced box office results for our industry partners,” it sounds as though the plan is to bolster the ticket offerings with its own content, à la Netflix.

But when your slate of originals includes films like Gotti, which made $4.3 million against a $10 million budget, it’s going to take more than that to right the ship. The Wall Street Journal notes that the company had a robust subscriber count of 3.2 million over the summer, but conspicuously left the number out during its last earnings report.

For his part, however, CEO Mitch Lowe sounds optimistic.

“MoviePass subscription, MoviePass Films and Moviefone now have a winning combination that we believe will drive consumers to our films, and re-energize casual moviegoers to go more often and see great films in local theaters—films that consumers often wait to see much later through streaming services,” the executive said in a statement.