Sliced bread was invented in 1928 when Otto Rohwedder, of Davenport, Iowa, introduced the first official bread-slicing machine to the world, and, with it, the best thing ever was born: the wonderful world-changing industry of prepackaged sliced bread.
Now, as you are no doubt well aware, nothing has ever surpassed sliced bread, which is why we always use that 1928 landmark as a reference point and it’s why great new things are always the best thing “since sliced bread” but are never better than it. Some great innovations and new products have drawn comparisons to sliced bread over the last nine decades, but nothing has ever beaten that all-important pivotal event.
Until now, that is.
In August 2017, something finally came along that leaves sliced bread in the dirt.
I’m talking, of course, about MoviePass.
Basically, if you somehow missed all the hoopla of recent weeks, MoviePass is your golden ticket that lets you see, for free, a movie a day. The service cost $9.95 a month – roughly the price of one measly movie ticket. So, in a year, you could conceivably spend $120 for the service and see about $3,700 worth of movies. Even if you just go to a couple of movies a month, MoviePass is well worth having because it’s only the price of one movie ticket.
It’s like a free lunch with all the sliced bread you can eat.
Theaters get paid the full ticket price by MoviePass (which is really a MasterCard), and the service will bring more people into the theater and that means more people that theater can charge $12,500 for a package of peanut M&M’s. So theaters should enjoy the service; concessions are where theaters make their money anyway.
(As for MoviePass, on the other hand, it has of course a completely untenable business model that cannot possibly ever work for any length of time, but my goal in joining was just to enjoy it while it lasts.)
Now, you should know that I love going to movies. I mean, I just love it. It is my second favorite thing to do and I do it every chance I get.
So when I heard about the new magic ticket movie service that was like the golden ticket in Willy Wonka, I had to have one.
Once I had the card, I could go to movies with friends and when they paid for their tickets I could just laugh and shake my head and say, “You’re paying money? For movies?? Why on earth would anyone do that? I mean, really – paying for movies is sooooo 2016. You guys kill me!”
So the prospects seemed utterly fantastic, but I wanted to read all the fine print because I was sure there had to be some sort of catch because, come on: There’s no way they can give you a movie a day for 10 bucks a month.
I wanted to find out how they get you. You know they have to get you somehow. It’s like how a restaurant will promise an “all you can eat” meal but then you find out the deal doesn’t apply at the take out window.
So I read the fine print. They charge you the $9.95 and, in five or six days, you get a MoviePass card and you see as many movies as you like. I figured one way MoviePass gets you is that it probably only worked in theaters you would never want to go to. Like, in this area, it would only work at one theater in Kernersville that shows only G-rated movies or something like that.
So I checked: Does it work with only one theater in Kernersville? Nope. It works at 91 percent of theaters across America and works at each and ever one that I go to: the Regal Grande at Friendly, the Brassfield at Brassfield, Marty Kotis’ Red Cinemas, you name it. The only theater I use that it doesn’t work with is the dollar theater at Sedgefield Crossing, but, hey, who cares? It’s the dollar theater.
Here are some other limitations I found:
• It doesn’t work with 3-D movies. Don’t care. 3-D is a gimmick that’s useless on all movies not named Gravity. I always choose to see the 2-D version of movies anyway. My entire life is in 3-D so I enjoy the change. (Also, it’s one of those few times in life when the better thing is priced less than the thing that’s not as good.)
• MoviePass sells your data. Who cares? Everybody sells my data. Do you think I care that some business knows that I saw Friend Request at 10:35 on a Tuesday night at the Regal Grande? Is that really worth keeping secret? Do I care that MoviePass sells my movie preference data? Why would I worry about that when Equifax is plastering my Social Security and credit card numbers all over the Russian dark web?
• You can’t reserve seats days ahead of time so you can’t really see big blockbusters the night they open. Look, aside from myself and whoever I go with, I prefer it if there are no other humans in the theater. I don’t like people at the movies; I like movies at the movies. I don’t like people kicking the back of my seat or talking or lighting up the theater with their iPhones.
So none of that bothered me. I wanted my MoviePass.
Now, to be honest, I didn’t really think it would work. In fact I knew for a fact it wouldn’t work. I’m not an idiot and I’ve been around the block on the turnip wagon a few times, which is just another way of saying I knew there was no way in high heaven it was going to work. There is no free lunch and if something seems too good to be true it probably is.
But here’s the thing: I really wanted to know how it wouldn’t work.
So, while thousands and thousands of other people were eagerly signing up to get a golden movie ticket for free movies, I wasn’t doing that at all. What I was doing was this: Paying $10 to find out exactly how it wouldn’t work.
I signed up and paid my $10, and I waited five days, and to my utter delight and astonishment, my MoviePass card came in the mail. I used it to see a great movie and it worked like a charm! It was a totally seamless transaction!
Only that didn’t happen at all: I made that up and it’s not true even though I threw in exclamation points and some gratuitous italics.
What really happened is that each day I eagerly ran to the mailbox hoping beyond hope that my magical MoviePass would be there. Day after day I checked the mail. Nothing came but, on Wednesday, August 23, this showed up in my email.
Dear MoviePass member,
We’ve been blown away with all of the excitement surrounding our new $9.95 unlimited plan. Though we anticipated a high level of interest, we received an unprecedented volume of traffic: so much so, it completely crashed our servers. Last week, MoviePass was the #1 consumer news story in the world.
To meet this demand, our production facility has rapidly increased capacity. Currently, you should expect to receive your card around September 6-10th. Orders are being fulfilled in the order in which they are received. We apologize for the delay …”
OK, now stop right there. Look at that for a second.
This was an extremely bad sign. I can understand that there’s a huge demand for this fabulous deal, but when I saw that the card’s expected arrival date was “around September 6-10th,” the jig was up.
What’s wrong with this picture? Right, you either say something will arrive “around” a certain date or it will arrive “between” two dates. But what you distinctly don’t say is that it will arrive “around” a certain range of dates. You can’t say, “I promise I’ll pay you back some time around Oct. 10 to Oct. 15.”
Do you know why it sounds so strange to say that something will be arriving “around between”? It’s because it makes no sense.
No, no, no – the only time you would do it like that is in two circumstances:
(A) When you have absolutely no idea under the sun when something is going to happen or …
(B) When something will never ever happen in a million years.
The letter also had this nice part at the end: “Thank you so much for your patience and support. We can’t wait to go to the movies with you!”
Uh, you can’t wait? How about me? I’m the one who’s actually seeing the movie – you’re just the one footing the bill.
Still, after I got the email, I eagerly waited each day for my MoviePass. Nothing. Then, Sept. 13 rolled around, and I got this email titled, I kid you not, “Where’s my card?”
I thought the subject line should read “Where’s my &%$^&-ing card???!!!”
Because that was the question I had.
Dear MoviePass Member,
In recent weeks, we’ve received hundreds of thousands of emails and tens of thousands of chats through our customer service channels. After hiring more employees and lengthening their service hours, they have drastically increased the number of cards shipped on a weekly basis.
Recently, the manufacturing queue was shuffled, so some of the cards have been delivered out of order …
Thank you, The MoviePass Team
The “failing” MoviePass Team if you ask me.
Anyway, so that’s how they get you: They only send you a card once you are too old and feeble to actually go out to the movies. By the time you get your card, instead you just choose to sit there in front of the TV drinking Ensure and watching old Matlock reruns.
So that’s too bad but the whole thing did give me an idea for a business startup of my own called DinnerPass. And I’m making it available to all of you. You pay less than $10 a month and I send you your DinnerPass card that pays for your whole meal at any restaurant in the United States – even tax and tip. Just eat anywhere you want and order whatever you want and then give them the card.
Please make your checks payable to “DinnerPass doing business as Scott D. Yost.” It is only $9.94 a month – cheaper than MoviePass. Please send your checks addressed to me at the Rhino Times, 216 W. Market St., Greensboro NC 27401.
Your card should arrive around between Oct. 15 and Nov. 15 of an upcoming year.