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The Race to Save Hollywood

What happens when the impossible hype of MoviePass meets the complete dominance of Disney?

M.G. Siegler
Mar 2, 2018 · 7 min read
coldsnowstorm/iStock via Getty Images Plus

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Image: Yale Joel/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

When You Wish Upon A Star…

For the past several years, basically one company has provided the fare to prevent a full-on collapse of the box office machine. Each and every year, thanks to Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and their own animated films (including the live-action off-shoots, like Beauty and the Beast), Disney dominates.

A True Marvel

Nothing lasts forever. And neither will this incredible run of hits. But Disney/Marvel was ingenious in the planning and creation of cinematic universes with a scope that, if successful, would ensure decades of hits.

Cue the Vader Theme…

The pitch is compelling: young people don’t buy movie tickets (aside from maybe for a few of the Disney movies mentioned above), so let’s give them something they know: a Netflix-like all-you-can-eat option. And the early returns seem to be promising: millions of people have signed up, and MoviePass is paying the theaters for tickets.

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Image: The Washington Post via Getty

[Narrator]: They would not get the girl.

Instead, MoviePass is going to end up hoping that their Netflix-style model turns into a gym-style model. Because MoviePass requires you to actually get off the couch to go to a physical location to do something, they’ll have to hope that people keep paying, but far more often than not, don’t actually get off the couch. In other words, they hope it becomes more of an aspirational thing. You’ll keep your MoviePass because one day you may want to go see a movie. But hopefully won’t.

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Shaye Bigelow/iStock via Getty Images Plus

The Plot Twist

And so we have it, the showdown. The unstoppable force, MoviePass, versus the immovable object, Disney. Except that’s really not the battle at all. It’s more that both are unstoppable forces right now and they’re in a race. And they think they’re both racing to save Hollywood, but they’re not. In fact, the longer they keep running, the more long-term harm both will ultimately do.


M.G. Siegler

Written by

General Partner @ GV (née Google Ventures). In past lives I wrote at TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and ParisLemon. A man of few words. Except when writing. 🍻

M.G. Siegler

Written by

General Partner @ GV (née Google Ventures). In past lives I wrote at TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and ParisLemon. A man of few words. Except when writing. 🍻

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