"We Know All About You" - MoviePass Is Secretly Tracking Its Customers' Movements

Anybody who bothered to look at MoviePass's business plan would've immediately been confronted with the fact that the business was doomed to fail - barring some king of pivot that would bring in badly needed revenue for a company that buys movie tickets for $10 then sells them to its "customers" for 33 cents...

Just to put this problem in perspective, lets apply some math to this case study on how not to run a business.  Lets assume that each of MoviePass's 400,000 subscribers decide to see 2 movies each week (they're entitled to one movie pass a day...but lets just assume they only use 2 per week) at a cost of $10...that's a total cost of $32 million each month.  Now, each of those subscribers are paying $10 per month for their service which means MoviePass is collecting $4 million in revenue and burning $28 million every single month or $336mm per year...and that doesn't even count their staff and other overhead expenses which we're sure are considerable.  Does that sound like a business plan that might be of interest to you?

As we said when we first wrote about the company in October: Who knew that massive cash losses could be detrimental to the health of a business?

After the company revealed in January (in response to an inquiry from an incredulous customer) that it had ended its relationship with AMC, critics of the company were waiting for the other shoe to drop...

But earlier this week, the company hinted at how it might see itself recouping all of this lost revenue. It's a tried-and-true method in Silicon Valley: Harvest all of the user data you can - transparency and customer service be damned.


MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe revealed as much during a talk at the Entertainment Finance Forum this week, when he coyly informed his audience that "we [MoviePass] know all about you."

Huh? That's right: Though, as TechCrunch pointed out, there's nothing in the MoviePass user agreement authorizing it to collect such extensive reams of customer data - the company is apparently doing it anyway, as its CEO openly admitted.

"We get an enormous amount of information," Lowe continued. "We watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards."

This startled a TechCrunch reported, who said most users probably imagined the company's data-collection would be geared more toward helping movie studios learn about ticket sales patterns and perform A/B testing with more intense granularity.

Not that the company is literally tracking everything its users do.

It’s no secret that MoviePass is planning on making hay out of the data collected through its service. But what I imagined, and what I think most people imagined, was that it would be interesting next-generation data about ticket sales, movie browsing, A/B testing on promotions in the app and so on.

I didn’t imagine that the app would be tracking your location before you even left your home, and then follow you while you drive back or head out for a drink afterwards. Did you?

It sure isn’t in the company’s privacy policy, which in relation to location tracking discloses only a “single request” when selecting a theater, which will “only be used as a means to develop, improve, and personalize the service.” Which part of development requires them to track you before and after you see the movie?

Naturally I contacted MoviePass for comment and will update if I hear back. But it’s pretty hard to misinterpret Lowe’s words.

After a few days, the company responded with the following statement:

We are exploring utilizing location-based marketing as a way to help enhance the overall experience by creating more opportunities for our subscribers to enjoy all the various elements of a good movie night. We will not be selling the data that we gather. Rather, we will use it to better inform how to market potential customer benefits including discounts on transportation, coupons for nearby restaurants, and other similar opportunities.

And there you have it: In its effort to create a streamlined "night at the movies", MoviePass eventually plans to set up parking or help you order a car, or giving you a deal on dinner before or after - or maybe evven connecting you with other movie aficionados. To do that, it needs to collect as much data on its users' activities as possible.

But as for an explanation for its lack of transparency? The company has yet to provide a reasonable answer.

Let's hope they come up with something before the service folds, or they're forced - in a final act of desperation - to package and sell all that data to the highest bidder. The scandal is reminiscent of a controversy involving Uber, when the company was exposed for tracking users of its apps after they'd been dropped off.

Of course, MoviePass is a great deal for consumers (as we've mentioned above). But we imagine at least some customers would've thought twice if they knew about everything they were giving away...


Janet smeller Sir Edge Sat, 03/10/2018 - 12:53 Permalink

They still make movies? I’ve seen no such sign of these things in the entertainment industry. All garbage. They’re all out of ideas. All the “liberalism” has absolutely failed to create free-thinking creativity (as they claimed it would). They recycle the same shit over and over. I’m begging to see a trailer for something I’d wanna watch. Been waiting YEARS.


+1 for fifth element reference 

In reply to by Sir Edge

montag Janet smeller Sat, 03/10/2018 - 19:14 Permalink

Well, here's my effort, started 4 years ago https://vimeo.com/251705941 + a script that was immediately passed to JTTF so I'm on a fusion center list. Basically spells out late stage black hat efforts to induce civil war. Also please visit http://chasmthemovie.com I'm an optioned screenwriter with Follywood entities but if you're not compromised willingly you're not in, period. There is only one dict to suck in LA.

In reply to by Janet smeller

DillyDilly Looney Sat, 03/10/2018 - 12:46 Permalink

What the hell do they even bother "tracking" for?


The only movies out there anymore are about oppressed negro tranny pussy hat wearing anti gun violence protesting LGBT parading casting couch veterans who take coaching advice from Oprah & Meryl Streep when they're out of rehab, then proceed to fall in love with fish that look like rejects from THE OUTER LIMITS wardrobe racks that were saved from the fire caused by global warming, & because there weren't enough illegal Mexican firefighters to put the fire out because they were otherwise busy watching evil Hitler movies.


I just gave Spielberg his next screenplay treatment.

In reply to by Looney

takeaction Looney Sat, 03/10/2018 - 13:12 Permalink

A friend of mine works for a movie/TV/Commercial tracking company.  At his company.....located in super high Tech Portland, Oregon area...tracks everything in real time.  It is crazy amazing and scary.  At any time at their location ...if you have a smart TV, Direct TV, Comcast...or anything else for that matter...they can see in real time what you are watching, what commercials you switch away from, all of the demographics...the DATA is literally frightening.  They have hundreds of monitors all harvesting the data they provide to anyone who is buying.  They also are the lead company that tracks movie ticket sales...they have direct links to every movie theater in the world...and can track movie releases live...and have algorithms that will tell Hollywood, FOX, Universal Studios in real time how well the movie is going to do based on one days tickets sales compared to all past movie algo's.  I could go on and on...It is pretty cool to watch a monitor...say like a rerun of the Simpsons...and you can watch the graph stay steady as the show is playing and as soon as an advertisement comes on the graph dives from people changing the channel...all in real time.  And then they can look at what demographics changed the channel.  Who continued to watch the commercial...and what demographic stayed...and who came back to the original program after the commercial ran.  Wow.


Here is the company...

Total company revenue for fiscal 2015 grew to $102.9 million, up 36% from $75.6 million for the previous year. The company's TV Everywhere™ product line grew 76%


In reply to by Looney

GeezerGeek Bushogboner Sat, 03/10/2018 - 16:12 Permalink

Who knows, they may even be in your bedroom. Anything with a camera and/or a microphone that is connected to the internet should be suspect. That includes baby monitors, laptops, smart TVs with microphones/cameras, webcams, and a multitude of other IoT devices. Some smart devices are aware of people in the room, etc.

As far as I know, watching an over-the-air TV show is still relatively safe, at least as long as no one on the outside can look at your TV screen or hear the sound.

In reply to by Bushogboner

DillyDilly takeaction Sat, 03/10/2018 - 13:31 Permalink

@takeaction ~ You see? The other day, HERE, I got the shit downvoted out of me because some clown who confused his IQ with his bowling average (and bragged about it), started a kneeJERK downvote avalanche...


Why? Because I cracked a joke about tuning a TV that I NEVER watch (& stated such therein), to the 720 club all night & point it at a wall (which I was thinking about painting a SIMPLE JACK mural on with his username, & which & whereby, prompted the pro-offering of aforesaid 'Nelson Burton Jr. of his unverified IQ/bowling average because, somehow, all he gleaned from all of that, applying his 'north of 145' bowling average, was that I was watching the fucking 720 club)...


I don't know what to say anymore... Either I surrender, or I go down fighting, but I'll tell you something... Fighting a battle of humor & wits is like being one of the 300 SPARTANS at Thermopylae...

In reply to by takeaction

GeezerGeek DillyDilly Sat, 03/10/2018 - 16:20 Permalink

Living in a multi-generational, multicultural household as I do, I wonder what monitoring agencies think of the viewing patterns here. When not watching anything on cable TV (which is most of the time) I set the box to One America News or sometimes Fox Business.

As for commercials, I am grateful that they now often extend to 4 or 5 minutes. I don't have to rush so much to do whatever needs to be done.

In reply to by DillyDilly

Crazy Or Not takeaction Sat, 03/10/2018 - 13:42 Permalink

>A friend of mine...etc

Conversly...a friend of mine was attached to a mil. software company that tracked bad guys. Get on public high speed transport. Take the sim out of your phone, ditch the phone, load contacts onto a hard drive, rinse and repeat, change transport, upload contacts onto a new burner...and he's still tracking you. In short you are always triangulated by any other active equipment around you. Whole of MIIC operates such gear.

In reply to by takeaction

Anonymous IX takeaction Sat, 03/10/2018 - 18:55 Permalink

Thank you for this post, takeaction.  None of your information surprises me.  I've been intently watching these trends for years.  I detest "smart" products for the reason you outline.  Anyone with any "smart technology" should assume that data can be extracted from them in one form or another and provides income for one and power for another.  We know that we live in an Age of Great Deception so don't naively expect anyone to contact you for "your permission."

In reply to by takeaction

Kokulakai Sat, 03/10/2018 - 12:38 Permalink

I no longer support Hollywood.

Gave up my personal tracking device in 2010.

I would be surprised if they could get my home phone to tell them where I've been.

MusicIsYou Sat, 03/10/2018 - 12:41 Permalink

Yeah but, do you really really know them? Because most people do things merely because it's new to them, but it's not really how they truly are. Kind of the same way toddlers like to cuss in the absence of their parents only because it's new to them. So because you aren't knowing their true selves, you're storing tons of mega data that really isn't them. "Ooo I'm away from my parents, it's new to me, fck shit piss, haha I get away with it."

PeeWeedUp Sat, 03/10/2018 - 12:42 Permalink

yes in the very near future the human mind will be connected to the internet. I fucking hope I am dead by then because that shit is going to be fucked up.

Sudden Debt Sat, 03/10/2018 - 12:47 Permalink

If you still don't know that, you're an idiot.


And the article was written by a dumbass who has no idea how these systems evolved these last 5 years.

They can track a shitlot more.

Anybody who even visits my business website has it's entire personal info transfered, I know who your friends are and where they live and what they do.

I know who you are and you've been catalogued before you visit another page on my site.

My phone now tells me how many people are in a 2 mile radius arround me and who they are.


that info is worth a lot of info.

Young kids don't even have a clue what the new systems can do because they have never seen what privacy actually was. That's also why they suck at technology and why the lack of that knowledge will be a big problem for companies when these kids grow up and the millenials leave the workforce.

ThorAss Sat, 03/10/2018 - 12:55 Permalink

Hard to find even one movie a month worth watching let alone 2 per week. Maybe that's their model. Anyway, just about everything "blockbuster" these days has to appeal to the "Chinese" market because there are just so damn many of them. And that's pretty much where I check-out. Just how many kung fu fighting superhero movies aimed at 14 year-olds but watched by adults do we need? Comedy is a lost art form. And that's without even worrying about the way-gone PC and other looney leftist agendae. Still gotta have a car chase or seven, in between the shoot-ups. For a culture desperately opposing gun ownership, they sure like to brandish them in their films! Not really sure when Hollywood jumped the shark. Late 80s perhaps when product placement became rife and everybody in movies had to smoke because of the money under the table from the tobacco companies who couldn't legitimately advertise their poisons. After this it became completely obvious that their was no art in the art form just tawdry commercialism. Then, of course, there's the paedophilia and casting couch sexual harassment/rape. But I digress.