HANFORD — While MoviePass flounders, the original movie theater subscription service, Movie Heroes, is helping the Hanford Metro 4 bounce back.
On the brink of closing up for good almost a year ago, Movie Heroes purchased the Hanford Metro 4 and implemented a subscription-based alternative to buying single tickets. Instead, customers can pay a monthly fee to see as many movies as they want, which Metro 4 regional manager Stacy Daly said has been “hugely successful” and has kept the doors open and the popcorn popping.
“Everyone loves the hometown feeling of [this theater]. We have a great staff. We have the best popcorn in town is what everyone tells me, so how can you beat it? It’s been very successful,” Daly said. “Coming to a hometown theater like this regularly, you get to know the staff and it feels like watching a movie at home.”
Movie Heroes also owns the Oakhurst Met 4 and its service covers the Coalinga Theater, though the company does not own it.
On the Movie Heroes’ website, the company estimated that it would take 3,000 subscribers to save the Oakhurst Met Cinema. It now has around 4,000 since taking over in 2013. The Metro 4 has around 900 subscribers currently.
“Of course, we’d like to see more. We’re hoping to get the word out to let people know what we’re about. People know the movie theater is still here, but there’s a big difference between Movie Heroes and the movie theater. Movie Heroes is what powers the theater,” Daly said.
Daly wears many hats. In addition to serving as the Metro 4’s regional manager, she is also co-owner of the Oakhurst theater and the financial director of Movie Heroes.
And while the Movie Heroes subscription model was implemented in Hanford around the same time that fellow movie subscription service, MoviePass, started to boom, Daly said that hasn’t had much effect on what they do.
“What we do is different, we offer 20 percent off concessions with our subscription and there’s no limit on movies. You don’t get that with MoviePass,” she said.
MoviePass’ ever-changing rules and unpredictable add-on fees are factors that have led to its customer dissatisfaction and reported losses tallying in the tens of millions per month. Both are factors that don’t affect Movie Heroes, as the plan and prices have remained reliably unchanged, Daly said.
Metro 4 employee Adam Cain estimated that the theater has only seen about 30 MoviePass customers in the last six months, a mere fraction of the theater’s overall attendees. Daly estimated that it’s even fewer at the Oakhurst location.
So while MoviePass may not have much impact on the Movie Heroes’ service, Daly said that the nationwide popularity of MoviePass seems to have opened the eyes of customers and made the subscription model “cool.”
Daly estimated that about 60 percent of the Metro 4’s customers are monthly subscribers, as opposed to those buying single tickets, adding that one of the things she sees from repeat cardholders is their willingness to see movies that they would skip otherwise due to the “free” ticket price.
“That’s one thing I love about our program — people get to see more things than they’d ever thought they’d get to see. And a lot of films surprise them,” she said.
The Movie Heroes subscription cost $19.95 per month, with discounted family plans and can be used at the Hanford Metro 4 or the locations in Coalinga and Oakhurst.
Daly said that while there is nothing concrete to announce just yet, Movie Heroes is hoping to add more theaters to its roster.