9 Awesome MoviePass Alternatives, From Paid Subscriptions to Free Ones
MoviePass may still be alive (for now), but things are not looking promising for the long-term future of the unlimited ticketing service. There’ve been numerous service outages, hiked subscription prices, surge pricing fees (or maybe not anymore), and now users won’t even be able to see blockbuster releases with their MoviePass. Plus the company ran out of cash last week and found their stock plummeting. It sure looks like MoviePass is on a slow march to the grave, but that doesn’t mean your moviegoing days need to be.
As a MoviePass subscriber myself, I’ve been looking into alternatives that are more worth my money lately. I’ve put together a detailed list of all the best movie subscription services out there. A handful are paid monthly theater subscriptions; some offer more access and features than MoviePass does. (It’s worth nothing that Alamo Drafthouse is also currently testing a subscription plan, so fingers crossed that launches soon.) But there’s also a bunch of niche streaming options outside of Netflix and Hulu in case you’re looking for ways to maintain a steady cinematic diet at home. And the best part? Some of these are totally free! Yes, you can actually stream the Criterion Collection for free, my friends.
Check out the best alternatives below, which I’ve broken down by price, the pros, the cons, and the type of film lover each service is best suited for. If you’re really devoted to expanding your movie knowledge, you may even want to sign up for a combination of these (I definitely am).
Theater Subscription Alternatives:
AMC Stubs A-List
Price: $19.95 a month.
What It Includes: You can see up to three movies a week, with no blackout dates and no limit on titles. Unlike MoviePass, you aren’t limited to one movie a day, so you could see three in one day, or spread them out across the week.
What Theaters: All AMC locations in the United States.
The Best Perks: All premium formats that usually cost extra are included – IMAX, 3D, D-Box, Dolby, and AMC Prime showtimes. You can also reserve tickets online via the site or app, instead of needing to be within a stone’s throw of the theater like MoviePass requires, and without any online convenience fees.
Even better, you can reserve up to three tickets in advance as soon as a film’s tickets go on sale, so if you wanna guarantee your seat for the next Star Wars a month in advance, no sweat. To redeem tickets, you don’t need a physical card or access to the mobile app (which, with MoviePass, can be annoying if your phone dies). Instead, simply check in at the box office/kiosk or print out your tickets at home. On top of all that, you also get the same perks as AMC Stubs Premiere members, which includes a rewards program (earned from your subscription fee), free popcorn refills and size upgrades, and priority lanes at the box office and concession stand. (See the full list of Stubs perks here).
The Cons: You won’t be able to try it out for a month and cancel. Once you sign up, there’s a three month minimum commitment, and after that should you decide to re-join, you’ll have to wait another six months. Other than that, the main con is, obviously, you can only use this at AMC theaters. If you don’t live near an AMC, or the AMC near you isn’t great, you’ve got a problem.
Good For: If you you go to the movies a lot and often shell out extra cash for IMAX or D-Box, this is by far the best deal. Sure, it’s pricy, but in most metropolitan areas a monthly subscription is worth it if you go twice a month to the movies, or even go once for IMAX 3D, which is over $25 for me in New York City. The only cinephile this isn’t a great option for is someone hoping to maintain a steady diet of indie and art house fare. For those folks, the next option may be best. (See the full details for AMC Stubs A-List here.)
Price: Sinemia offers a variety of plans currently ranging from $3.99 to $13.99 per month, as well as family plans. (The prices shown in the photo above are a part of a current summer discount sale that lasts until September 3; After that, plans revert to their original pricing, so be sure to check the site once the sale ends.)
What It Includes: There’s two basic options: Classic plans include one or two 2D tickets per month, and Elite plans include two or three tickets for 2D or 3D movies, and just one of those tickets can be used towards premium showtimes such as IMAX 2D/3D, XD, Dolby Atmos, ScreenX, D-Box, or 4DX, but only once every 30 days. (It’s a little confusing so be sure to read the FAQs for all the nitty gritty details.) The good news is there are no blackout dates or limits on what titles you can see. They also have family plans that allow you to reserve tickets for up to six people.
What Theaters: Sinemia is accepted at a range of chains and local art house theaters. (Great news New Yorkers – Film Forum accepts Sinema unlike MoviePass!) You can see a list of eligible theaters by location on their website.
The Best Perks: You can book tickets in advance via the app and don’t need to be physically near a theater as with MoviePass. And while Sinemia sends you a membership card – the site says it can take up to two months to receive it by the way – luckily they have a Cardless feature so you can begin using it the day you sign up.
The Cons: There are a lot of annoying limitations. The biggest is that Sinemia doesn’t cover convenience fees from ticketing sites like Fandango, Movie Tickets, and Atom Tickets, which subscribers must use when booking tickets with the Cardless feature. That means you’ll be paying $2 - $3 per ticket, which adds up. (Sinemia has shared some tips for how to avoid this.) You can also avoid fees by using your card at the box office instead of reserving online. But when it comes to reserving advance tickets, you can only reserve up to 30 days in advance, not when tickets go on sale, as AMC Stubs A-List allows for (so bad news for Marvel and Star Wars fans.) Again, no matter this size of your plan, you can only see one premium format movie per month. Also unlike AMC’s plan, you can only see one movie per day. One more pain in the butt: if you choose the monthly plan, you have to pay a $19.99 initiation fee.
Good For: This is the best alternative to MoviePass and AMC Stubs A-List for those who frequent a variety of theaters and want the option to see both wide releases and smaller indie films that may not make it to AMCs. It’s especially great if AMC’s $20 plan puts too big of a dent in your pocket; even with Sinemia’s highest Elite plan and convenience fees, you’re only spending about $23 a month at most to see three movies; not a bad deal. The family plan option also makes this great for families and couples, or anyone who doesn’t like seeing movies alone. See the full details for Sinemia here.
Cinemark Movie Club
Price: $8.99 per month.
What It Includes: One 2D ticket per month, with no blackout dates or limits on titles. You can also pay a one-time “upcharge” fee to upgrade the ticket to a premium format for 3D, IMAX, XD or D-Box.
What Theaters: All Cinemark, Century, CinéArts, Tinseltown and Rave theater locations.
The Best Perks: Your unused tickets roll over and never expire. The best thing about that is, if you rack up a bunch of unused tickets, you can use them for a double or triple feature, or even to bring a friend (but you’re limited to three ticket transactions in a single day). Even better, if you use your monthly ticket but want to see another movie before the month is over, subscribers get a membership discount on two additional 2D tickets – one for you, and one for a friend. Unlike Sinemia, Movie Club waives all convenience fees from advanced online reservations too. You also get a 20 percent discount on concessions, and can earn reward points from the Cinemark Connections loyalty program.
The Cons: Besides the limit on how many movies you can see for the monthly price, the only downside is whether you have a local Cinemark in your city – check the full list of U.S. locations here.
Good For: This is the kind of subscription I’d recommend to my mom, someone who loves movies but doesn’t make it to the theater all that often. If you’re someone who likes to catch a movie every now and then, this is a great way to have a guaranteed discounted ticket without your money ever going to waste thanks to the roll-over feature. Plus, at just under 10 bucks, it’s less than the average movie ticket price in most states. See the full details here.
OK, what if you’re sick of all these dang movie theater subscriptions and just want to watch some great films from the comfort of your couch? Netflix’s film selection has gotten increasingly dire over the past few years, and Amazon Prime is fine for recent releases, but are those your only options? No!
For those looking to discover hidden gems or simply expand their cinematic vocabulary with rare titles or classic staples, there’s some great streaming options out there.
Streaming Subscription Alternatives:
Price: $6.99 - $10.99 a month, or $99 a year.
Available On: Apple TV, Roku, Amazon FireTV, Chromecast, Android TV, Apple and Android devices.
What It Includes: If you’ve been mourning the loss of the Criterion Collection since it left Hulu a couple years back, do yourself a favor and get a subscription to FilmStruck. There’s two different packages: the cheapest plan includes FilmStruck’s library, a mix of classic Hollywood, foreign, indie, and art house titles, along with tons of titles from Warner Bros.’ film library. The next plan up includes all of that, plus selections from Criterion. I got the annual plan (which includes everything) as a birthday present and it was the best gift I could’ve asked for.
The Best Perks: With a growing selection of films and new titles added each month, it can admittedly be overwhelming to deciding what to watch on FilmStruck, so that’s why I love the way they package offerings by director and actor (or a combo of both for frequent collaborators), and highlight a Star of the Week, from Lena Horne to Bette Davis. The options are endless: you can dive into a 33-film collection of Ozu films, work your way through classic Hollywood with all the TCM Select movies – and those include special features and intros from the late Robert Osborne – watch Criterion’s weekly Friday Night Double Feature pairing, video essays, short films, and even get back to that movie New Year’s resolution you promised you were gonna stick to.
The Cons: Admittedly, FilmStruck isn’t perfect. The website interface and streaming player itself is frequently buggy, particularly on the Roku app, which has crashed on me a few times. The player also doesn’t remember where you left of, which can be a real pain if you choose to watch something in more than one sitting.
Best For: The avid cinephile or someone simply looking to expand their knowledge of the movies. With the annual plan, you’re paying $8.25 a month – that’s less than a Netflix subscription! Less than a Chipotle burrito! – for access to some of the best movies ever made. You can also get a 14-day free trial. Learn more about FilmStruck here.
Price: $4.99 a month, or $48 a year.
Available On: Apple TV, Roku, Google Play, Xbox One, Amazon FireTV, Chromecast, VRV Premium, Apple and Android devices, or you can access the Shudder library via Amazon Prime.
What It Includes: A massive and growing streaming library of horror and films and TV series, as well as their own original programing and exclusives. They’ve got everything from classics like the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre to new works from emerging filmmakers.
The Best Perks: Their curated selections are broken down by sub-genres, which is a relief to anyone aggravated with the way Netflix and other streaming sites dump all their horror movies into one messy pile; sometimes you just want to browse slashers or creature features, right? They also have a bunch of exclusive titles you can’t find elsewhere, like Alice Lowe’s Prevenge (which we loved at TIFF in 2016), Rob Zombie’s 31, and the underrated Mackenzie Davis-led Always Shine.
Not only that, but Shudder’s Collections include films by female directors, school-set horror stories, gems from East Asian filmmakers, as well as favorites chosen by guest curators like actress Barbara Crampton and Kumail Nanjiani. Oh, and the coolest thing? You can stay up to date on the latest genre titles from film festivals with their selection of premieres from Fantastic Fest and Sundance’s Midnight Madness. There’s also a live streaming option called Shudder TV if you can’t decide what to watch and want to pop into the middle of a movie like the good old days before streaming.
The Cons: Obviously, if horror and thrillers aren’t your thing, this isn’t for you. And if you’re mainly looking for mainstream genre films, you may be disappointed. But then again, for less than the price of a rental on iTunes you get access to a ton of cool movies; what’s not to like?
Best For: The horror aficionado or anyone frustrated by Netflix’s lacking horror selections. You can also try it out for a 7-day free trial. Learn more about Shudder here.
Price: $8.99 a month
Available On: Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon FireTV, Apple and Android devices, Android TV, LG TV, Samsung and Sony smart TVs, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in Europe, VRV, and via Amazon Prime.
What It Includes: Mubi only has 30 films at a time, but here’s the idea: every day a new film joins the lineup and an expiring one drops off, giving you a full month to watch each selection. However, they do allow you to pay extra to rent an expired movie. Their curated titles include independent, foreign, and art house films, and they also build collections around particular filmmakers, themes or movements, like a current François Ozon series and one devoted to French New Wave.
The Best Perks: Their Special Discovery feature highlights new movies from international festivals, which is a great way to get a taste of new releases from emerging and acclaimed filmmakers without having to travel the world and gain access to a festival. Mubi also has a digital magazine The Notebook, allows users to rate and review movies, and like Shudder TV, you can tune in to the middle of a film with their live feature. Also, if you’re a film school student or teacher, you may be able to get Mubi for free! Find out here.
The Cons: Well, there’s the whole ticking-clock thing. If you’re someone with a busy schedule who prefers to add movies to your queue to watch at a later date, this isn’t a great option. And compared to FilmStruck, it’s also a bit pricy for the limited number of movies you have access to at a given time. There was also some backlash this week when a crop of recent ads prompted folks on Twitter to call out Mubi for being elitist and snobby. Mubi apologized, but still, pretentious advertising is not the best way to attract new subscribers.
Best For: The film buff who has a lot of free time to explore new movies, or the super indecisive moviegoer who needs limited recommendations. You can try it out for a 7-day free trial. Learn more about Mubi here.
Price: $9.99 a month, or $90 a year.
Available On: Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Apple and Android devices, Smart TVs with Android OS, Kindle, or via Amazon Prime.
What It Includes: Fandor offers a huge selection (over 6,000 titles) of indie, classic Hollywood, documentary, silent, avant-card and foreign cinema, plus short films.
The Best Perks: I’ve only used Fandor a couple times (thanks to a free trial) and primarily because they had films I couldn’t find anywhere else online. It’s a great resource if you’re looking for something rare, and most notably they have an extensive selection of hard-to-find LGBTQ films, like Marlon Rigg’s 1989 Tongues Untied and Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman. The browsing interface on desktop is pretty great for anyone looking for narrow down a search by country, a detailed range of sub-genres – it gets as specific as “Dysfunctional Family” under Drama and “False Accusation” for Crime – by year, and even runtime, perfect if you’re in a time crunch.
They also categorize films by what festivals they’ve premiered at, by larger themes (“Movies about Movies” is one), and top subscriber reviews. And similar to Mubi, students and teachers can get a discount. Another thing … Jared Leto was recently named Fandor’s chief creative officer, and there’s a ton of Leto stuff across the platform (like this docu-series of him rock climbing), so uh, I’ll let you decide if that’s a pro or a con.
The Cons: Honestly, not much. If I could afford it I’d have this and FilmStruck. As far as the technical aspect, I’ve had no issues streaming via the website, but can’t speak to the app experience.
Best For: Any cinephile or general movie lover disappointed in the selections on major services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, and looking to explore more niche films.
Price: Free. Wait, what? Yes, it’s FREE! All you need is a library card.
Available On: Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Apple and Android devices, and Amazon Fire tablet.
What It Includes: Kanopy is an educational distributor for library and schools, and their website and app allows anyone with a library card streaming access to over 30,000 films. The specifics depend on your local library: for instance, my Brooklyn library lets me watch six videos a month, with three days to watch each, while the New York Public Library grants up to 10 a month. Not all libraries grant streaming access, so be sure to check by location here.
The Best Perks: Um, it’s free! My friends, this is the best kept-secret on the internet. Their massive selection of movies includes so much: Early films from foreign filmmakers; over 400 Criterion Collection titles; new indie releases like recent Oscar-nominees Loving Vincent and I Am Not Your Negro; tons of docs about film history, general history, performing arts and more; PBS selections like Ken Burns’ The Central Park Five; access to The Great Courses series in case you want to learn about Tai Chi, gourmet cooking, or the French Revolution; and even some TV series. Seriously, this is the coolest thing around.
The Cons: Literally none. Unless you don’t have a library card (and if so, change that!) or your local library doesn’t participate.
Best For: Any and every one!
Price: Totally friggin’ free. You just need to sign up with an email.
Available On: Desktop, only in the U.S. and U.K. with more locations to come.
What It Includes: Nicolas Winding Refn launched his very own streaming site just this week. It’s totally free, and seriously, there’s no catch or gimmick. As the first guest curator, journalist Jimmy McDonough, describes on the site, the Drive and Neon Demon director couldn’t decide what to do with over 200 old exploitation flicks he’d bought and restored over the years. So he decided he’d share them with the world for free. On the site you’ll find movies from one-time directors, and the types of exploitation pictures that never made it past regional drive-ins.
The basic idea is that four times a year, ByNWR.com will release a new themed volume featuring three movies chosen by a guest curator. The first volume is called “Regional Renegades,” curated by McDonaugh, and includes three movies you can watch right now: 1965’s The Nest of the Cuckoo Birds, 1967’s Hot Chills and Warm Thrills, and Shanty Tramp also from ‘67. (While the future installments look like they’ll drop one movie a month, all three of the current movies are available now.) There’s also a preview of the second volume, curated by Little White Lies, debuting in September.
The Best Perks: The whole darn thing. You get to watch a restored film every month, plus each quarterly volume arrives with its own digital magazine “loaded with culture inspired by the movies.” The site is currently filled with a bunch of cool features, like a lengthy profile on Cuckoo Birds director Bert Williams, videos, photo galleries, and audio excerpts. You could spend days digging through this thing and exploring a bunch of bizarro bits of cult cinema.
The Cons: Nothing I can think of so far. You get to watch a bunch of weird stuff that Refn likes for free, and read and watch additional material on it. What could you possibly complain about?
Best For: Fans of cult film, Nicolas Winding Refn fans, or just anyone looking to discover some cool cinematic oddities.
Are you convinced to ditch MoviePass? Let us know your favorite alternatives in the comments.
Gallery – Movie Ticket Stubs You Can Buy on eBay: