(Bloomberg) -- Cinemark Holdings Inc., the third-biggest U.S. cinema chain, became the first major exhibitor to offer a subscription service, responding to the challenge thrown down by ticket discounter MoviePass.
The $8.99-a-month Movie Club lets customers have one 2-D ticket a month, plus a 20 percent discount on popcorn and other concessions, according to a statement from the Plano, Texas-based exhibitor, which has almost 6,000 screens.
Cinemark, like other exhibitors, is trying to respond to shrinking ticket sales, while also contending with the challenge from MoviePass, a money-losing startup offering deeply discounted tickets. Cinemark said last month that it was testing a service to boost attendance and revenue.
MoviePass backer Helios & Matheson Analytics Inc. fell as much as 11 percent to $10.71 in early trading.
U.S. ticket prices averaged $8.93 in the third quarter this year, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners.
The company isn’t trying to match MoviePass’s all-you-can-watch $9.95 monthly plan. It’s offering customers reserve seats, waiving online fees and allowing members to roll over unused admissions. Subscribers can buy additional tickets at the $8.99 price. Movie Club members will have to pay more for premium-format screenings.
Theater stocks have tumbled after a dismal summer of movie flops. Investors have also been spooked by reports that Hollywood studios want to release films for home video sooner, cutting the exclusive window theaters enjoy. Cinemark is down 5.1 percent this year.
Movie Club begins Tuesday in U.S. Cinemark theaters. The chain has 533 locations in the U.S and South America.
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