MoviePass App Tracks Your Location Before and After Movies [Updated With Statement]

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    MoviePass, the app that allows you to watch a movie in theaters each day for the low price of $10 per month, is unsurprisingly planning to use your location data to make money.

    As TechCrunch points out, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe recently told an audience at a Hollywood event that MoviePass is collecting and monetizing through location information.


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

    MoviePass, which is owned by a data analytics firm, has made no secret of the fact that it plans to use data generated from subscribers to make money. "There are dozens and dozens of businesses like ours that invest in building a large subscriber base," Lowe told Recode in early February. "Netflix buys $8 billion of content a year, and believe me, they have to borrow the money to do it. Or companies like Facebook -- it's free, but they're monetizing all the advertising and all the data about you. That's exactly what we are [doing]."

    While MoviePass has been transparent about how it plans to make money, most people are likely not aware of the extent of the data the company collects. As TechCrunch says, it's likely users assumed MoviePass would collect data like ticket sales, movie choice, promotions, and more, rather than detailed location data that tracks your movement before and after seeing a film.

    MoviePass's privacy policy says that the app requires access to location when selecting a theater, and that it makes a single request for location coordinates. There's no mention of ongoing tracking, so it's not clear if this is something the MoviePass app is doing on the sly, if such tracking has yet to be implemented, or if the CEO's comments were exaggeratory.
    iOS users who are concerned about MoviePass collecting excessive data can restrict access to their location on the device level. To do so, open the Settings app, navigate to Privacy, and then choose Location Services. From there, select MoviePass.

    You can opt to change your location setting to "Never," "While Using the App," and "Always." You'll probably want to leave it on "While Using the App," as location information is required when making a ticket purchase. Alternatively, you can toggle "Never" on and off whenever you use the MoviePass app for further security.

    MoviePass charges $9.95 per month (or $7.95 if you pay for an annual subscription) and allows customers to see a 2D movie each day. MoviePass provides customers with a debit card that's loaded with money to make ticket purchases, so it works at more than 90 percent of theaters across the United States.

    With ticket prices that often exceed $10 in certain areas for a single movie, MoviePass is a solid deal, if you don't mind sacrificing your privacy for cheaper movies.

    As of January 2018, MoviePass had 1.5 million subscribers. The MoviePass app can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

    Update: MoviePass told The Verge that it is "exploring" utilizing location-based marketing to "enhance the overall experience by creating more opportunities for subscribers to "enjoy all the various elements of a good movie night." The company says it has no intentions to sell this data at the current time.
    Update 2: In an update released on March 7, MoviePass said it "removed unused app location capability."

    Article Link: MoviePass App Tracks Your Location Before and After Movies [Updated With Statement]
  2. Nunyabinez macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2010
    Provo, UT
    I remember when a homepage first became a thing. We were warned to not put any personally identifiable information there so that we wouldn't have our kids kidnapped.

    Now people will share anything just to save a few $.
  3. I7guy macrumors Core


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    The phrase TANSTAAFL comes to mind as I read this article. Not interested, thank you.
  4. pdaholic macrumors 65816


    Jun 22, 2011
  5. BeefCake 15 macrumors 65816

    BeefCake 15

    May 15, 2015
    near Boston, MA
    It seems like the CEO doesn't really understand that iOS can quickly block this...
  6. BasicGreatGuy Contributor


    Sep 21, 2012
    In the middle of several books.
    Shazam! Glad I didn't sign up with them. Even though you can turn off the location following, I wouldn't trust them. I don't like that kind of business model.
  7. jdillings macrumors 68000

    Jun 21, 2015
    It shouldn't be a was obvious their business model was selling your personal data.
  8. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    How exactly is MoviePass getting information about how I go to the movies and how I leave the movies - if it's set to only use location services when the app is open?

    I mean, personally I don't really give a toss if MoviePass knows this. I mean, yeah - I went to dinner, and then I went home. Congrats, MoviePass. But if I don't have the option to disable this, that seems to go against what iOS's Location Services are saying...

    Either way, love my MoviePass.
  9. THE JUICEMAN macrumors 68020


    Oct 3, 2007
    One of the best purchases I've ever made. I got in on a sale they were having for $6.95/mo. That means I have to go to the movies only about 7 times to make my money back. This is a no brainer for me. They can collect all the data they want. I mean everyone else is doing it....:)
  10. SeminalSage macrumors member


    Nov 10, 2016
    My guess is they can only collect that data if your click the 'always' option when the app requests location data.
  11. ersan191, Mar 5, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018

    ersan191 macrumors 65816

    Oct 26, 2013
    I just don't understand why the CEO would say that so proudly...

    And the vast majority of Android/iOS users don't adjust app-specific location services - most people just click "OK" on any dialog that pops up when they open the app without reading it.
  12. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008

    Did seem a little... odd to me, too.
  13. tkukoc macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2014
    Wish I Was In Space!
    It's a shady business anyway, I mentioned a bunch of stuff about this a week or so back. Not good!
  14. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    Knowing this is useful because I can do some really creative things with their app tracking.
  15. Macatize macrumors newbie


    May 19, 2014
    Springfield, MO
    Movie pass is horrible! I canceled it before I even used it to purchase a movie ticket. The process was such a pain, it was like having a Netflix subscription but having to go to Redbox to pick up your movie. I ended up canceling it, and when they kept charging me, I had to call my credit card company to dispute the charges.
  16. rafark macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2017
    I think it's fair. What they charge is pretty much a steal.
  17. WilliamG, Mar 5, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018

    WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    Er.... how is it a pain? Pick theater, pick movie, pick time, hit "check in", and then use the card to buy the ticket like any other credit/debit card. So simple it's a joke (kinda like your analogy which makes about zero sense!).
  18. BaccoE macrumors newbie

    Jul 4, 2015
    When you refer to Redbox, do you mean you didn't like having to go to the theater to buy your ticket?

    If so, how else did you expect it to work? If that's not what you meant, what do you mean?

    I'm curious about the issues you experienced.
  19. Sinequanon83 macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2011
    What do people think "Always" means? Don't set your phone to that...?
  20. multimediums macrumors newbie


    Dec 2, 2017
    I don’t care, MoviePass is freakin awesome.

    If you think you aren’t being tracked already by several apps & sites, then obviously you are a tad naive. Like it or not, this is cost you pay for technology & convenience. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m saying it’s a fact. You can use a rolodex and live in the woods if you prefer.
  21. DotCom2 macrumors 68040

    Feb 22, 2009
    LOL. Too bad you don't live in Nevada! ;););)
  22. lec0rsaire macrumors 65816

    Feb 23, 2017
    I was considering trying this out, but this sort of location tracking is unacceptable. I turn off location services anywhere where it is not necessary to the functioning of the app. In some cases with 3rd party apps I'll turn it on only while as needed. For example Adidas Confirmed or Foot Locker.
  23. Kaibelf macrumors 68020


    Apr 29, 2009
    Silicon Valley, CA
    They were up front from the start about their intentions, so I really don't see any angle for people to use to complain. "Most people don't read the TOS" isn't an excuse. "It's too complicated" isn't either. If you honestly think you're ever getting something free from any business for no reason at all, you're wrong.
  24. Pman17 macrumors regular


    Mar 12, 2011
    Galveston, TX
    "MoviePass App Tracks Your Location Before and After Movies", If Location Services Are Set To Always

    Don't really care, but cool to know. Pretty neat how companies have figured out how to monetize on data rather than charging us. Sounds creepy but as long as this makes the movie experience better and companies produce better movies based on what we watch along with security of our personal info, I'm in.

    I listened to an interview with the CEO, man they've really pissed off AMC. Out of the blue this company has so much control on the movie theaters in less than a year. They shut down movie pass to select high attendance AMC theaters just to show AMC the numbers that they do indeed affect their growth in popcorn sales and they can direct customers to other theaters instead in order to leverage AMC into making a deal with them in profit sharing. Other companies have made deals to share sales and data. This is reason why MoviePass can survive with the ridiculously low subscription model. It's like Netflix, they know when we watch, what we watch, and where we watch.
  25. MarkB786 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 20, 2016
    Rocky Mountains, USA
    Ok, but let's think about this. We're not talking abut identity theft. What is the harm with sharing personal data? Sure, I can see some folks value their privacy (for various reasons), but outside of conspiracy theories and insecurity, who cares that they know where you went to eat, etc.? It will be used for targeted marketing, which is already happening via Chrome and lots of other apps. I just don't see the REAL harm in this tracking. I may be looking at this too simply, so please enlighten (and scare) me!

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112 March 5, 2018