MoviePass vs. AMC Stubs A-List vs. Sinemia vs. Cinemark Movie Club

Battle of the movie ticket sites: How to make sense of the fledgling industry

movie tickets theater
Getty Images

Subscription services for movie tickets are all the rage lately. When it last released numbers in June 2018, MoviePass boasted more than 3 million users, though this number may have shrunk as the company has undergone massive turmoil. Meanwhile, theater-specific upstart AMC Stubs A-List continues to increase its own subscriber base, which numbered 500,000 strong as of November 2018.

Just because those two services are making all the headlines, that doesn’t mean they’re the only options for people who enjoy the moviegoing experience. Several other movie ticket subscription services are available in the United States. They allow members to get discounted rates on movie tickets every month, and offer a variety of perks, restrictions, and other elements that make them worthy of consideration for anyone who regularly attends movies or would like to do so more often.

To make the decision between movie ticket services a little easier, we put together a comparison of each of the major subscription plans, so you can figure out what makes the most sense for your viewing habits.

AMC Stubs A-List

AMC Stubs Program

What it is: Launched in June 2018, A-List added a subscription-based monthly ticket service to the chain’s existing loyalty program following years of public feuds with MoviePass.

Monthly price: $20 or more, depending on location.

How many movies: Subscribers can see three movies each week.

Restrictions: A-List subscribers are limited to AMC theater locations, and there are no deals for purchasing additional tickets for the same screening (if you want to bring a friend, for example). Members of the Stubs loyalty program don’t get reward points for movie tickets purchased through A-List, but they do get points for food and drinks purchased during their visit. Members must agree to a three-month minimum term.

Extra perks: Tickets for premium-format screenings — such as 3D and IMAX — are treated just like standard-format tickets, without any extra charges or limitations. You can also see the same movie multiple times, including in-demand blockbusters, and purchase tickets in advance. A-List members can make free online reservations for movies in advance, and get 10 percent back on food and drink purchases.

What else to consider: The entire service is managed through the AMC Theaters app, making it one of the more convenient services available. A-List requires a three-month commitment at initial sign-up but guarantees its original monthly cost for the first 12 months.

More info: amctheatres.com/amcstubs/alist

MoviePass

moviepass vs amc stubs a list cinemark movie club sinemia photo
MoviePass

What it is: The original subscription-based movie ticket service, MoviePass launched in June 2011 but the service has changed its plan repeatedly — and often controversially — in an effort to remain profitable.

Monthly price:

  • Select Plan: $10/$13/$15, depending on location, with three movies per month, chosen from a curated selection of 2D movies
  • All Access Plan: $15/$18/$20, depending on location, with an unlimited selection of three 2D movies per month
  • Red Carpet Plan: $20/$23/$25, depending on location. Same as All Access, but with the ability to see one IMAX or RealD 3d movie per month instead of a 2D movie

How many movies: Subscribers can see three movies each month.

Restrictions: See above for plan-specific restrictions. The option to purchase tickets days in advance isn’t available for all theaters, with some locations requiring you to be physically in the building before you can purchase a ticket. Premium-format screenings (3D, IMAX, etc.) are not available to subscribers, and there are no deals for buying additional tickets to the same screening. No unused ticket rollovers.

Extra perks: The MoviePass debit card is accepted at just about every theater in the U.S. that accepts credit cards. The service also offers discounts on additional tickets (depending on the subscriber’s location, the specific theater, and the movie) after subscribers buy the initial three movie tickets in a given month.

What else to consider: The terms of the plan offered by MoviePass have fluctuated significantly over time, and there’s no guarantee that the plan you sign up for will be the same one offered a month — or even a week — down the road. The MoviePass website and mobile app also have a long history of problems that pop up, so there’s a relatively high level of risk that comes with a subscription.

More info: moviepass.com

Sinemia

Sinemia

What it is: A lesser-known service that arrived in the U.S. in May 2018, Sinemia established itself in the U.K. and Canada several years earlier with a format similar to MoviePass but more stable in its terms.

Monthly price: From $4 to $15 (depending on the plan).

How many movies: Subscribers are able to see one, two, or three movies each month, or 30 movies per month, depending on the plan.

Restrictions: Classic plans limit subscribers to one, two, three or 30 movies each month. These are limited to standard-format screenings. Its Plus plans are identical (but more expensive), and also allow 3D, IMAX, or other premium-format screenings.

Extra perks: Though it started with a physical debit card, Sinemia is now cardless via its mobile app, and can be used at just about any theater nationwide for in-person purchases, and tickets can be purchased in advance for upcoming movies using the app. The service also makes it possible to use third-party ticket sites (like Fandango or MovieTickets.com, for example), so you can earn points from those sites with your purchase. Subscribers aren’t limited to a particular set of movies or showtimes, either. Sinemia also offers “family plans” that provide discounted monthly rates for multiple tickets to the same screening. Unused movie tickets can roll over to the next month.

What else to consider: Subscribers who don’t want to pay a $20 “initiation fee” will need to commit to a full year of Sinemia at whatever monthly rate they choose. Although the service is relatively hassle-free for in-person ticket sales, buying tickets for upcoming movies can be a complicated process using the Sinemia app, often requiring multiple open tabs, as well as copying and pasting screening and payment information.

You can also use the Sinemia app to buy individual movie tickets for select movie theaters without a subscription. This feature gives users the ability to directly book advance tickets, reserve seats, and purchase additional tickets for friends and family, at more than 400 theaters, but only in the U.S. currently.

A new option added in March 2019, called Sinemia Limitless, lets users buy a physical or digital debit card with a $100 face value, for only $70. The card can be used to buy tickets at any movie theater, for any showing. The balance expires after one year, and current plan members must wait for their plan to expire before they can participate in Sinemia Limitless.

More info: sinemia.com

Cinemark Movie Club

cinemark ceo no release window experiments
Lyle/flickr

What it is: Theater chain Cinemark launched its own subscription service in 2017, riding the wave created by MoviePass.

Monthly price: $9.

How many movies: Subscribers can see one movie each month.

Restrictions: Screenings are limited to Cinemark theaters, which are primarily located in Texas, Ohio, and California. Only standard-format screenings are available through the plan.

Extra perks: Subscribers get a 20 percent discount on food and drinks at Cinemark theaters, and unused tickets carry over to the next month. The plan also offers discounts on additional tickets beyond the one-per-month allotment, and buying tickets for upcoming movies is allowed.

What else to consider: Although the ticket-purchasing process is relatively simple and conducted online or in-person in much the same way as AMC’s A-List service, the proximity of a Cinemark theater is likely to be the most limiting aspect of the service.

More info: cinemark.com/movieclub

Gaming

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (March 2019)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Music

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.
Mobile

What's the difference between 4G and LTE ... and does it even matter?

Wireless standards are confusing -- it doesn't matter if you're talking about 4G, LTE, WiMax, or others. Here, we break down the differences between 4G and LTE so you can make sense of how they play out in real-world scenarios.
Movies & TV

These are the best movies on Hulu right now (March 2019)

From dramas to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

11 Hollywood heavyweights who jumped from the big screen to the small screen

From Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep to James Franco and Mahershala Ali, lots of Hollywood A-list actors with successful film careers are flocking to television projects during the second Golden Age of Television.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: Aliens, Avengers: Endgame, Charlie Says, and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's new trailers for Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin, Charlie Says, Doom: Annihilation, and more.
Deals

How to watch Top Rank Boxing: Conlan vs. Hernandez free on ESPN Plus

St. Patrick’s Day is this Sunday, so it’s fitting that rising Irish star Michael Conlan will face off against Mexican boxer Rueben Garcia Hernandez. If you’re looking for a way to stream the fight, then start your ESPN Plus 7-day…
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: Free Solo, Catastrophe season 4, and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: Free Solo documents an awe-inspiring climb, Catastrophe unveils its final season, and more.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Business

Captain Marvel continues to soar at the box office with huge second weekend

Captain Marvel blasted into theaters in a big way a week ago, and Marvel's first female-led solo superhero movie is showing no signs of slowing down after a big second week in theaters.
Movies & TV

How Laika blends 3D printing and CGI to make mesmerizing stop-motion movies

With each film, Laika Studios pushes the bar higher for stop-motion animation. We explore Laika's latest techniques for its new adventure, Missing Link, which the studio it calls a Kaleidoscopic travelogue that ranks as its most ambitious…
Movies & TV

Apple bet big on TV and movie projects. Here’s what we know about them so far

Apple has an ambitious slate of original programming it has been developing in recent years, so will the March 25 event finally reveal when — and where — we will be able to see some of these TV shows and movies?