TORONTO - The all-you-can-watch company MoviePass that's been dubbed by some as a "Netflix for theatres" hasn't revealed plans to come to Canada, but its competitor has quietly launched here.
Sinemia, founded by Turkish entrepreneur Rifat Oguz, provides a service that it says is more sustainable and less too good to be true.
While a US$9.95 a month subscription to MoviePass allows American consumers to go see one non-premium screening a day, Sinemia charges $10.99 to watch two movies a month, including one in any premium format except VIP. Even Cineplex's pricey $24.99 ticket for a 4DX screening in 3D is available.
There's also an option to see three movies in a month for $15.99, and there are discounts for committing to a year of the service in advance or getting pairs of tickets each month. After signing up, customers receive a card in the mail to use for purchasing tickets directly from an eligible theatre.
Sinemia also operates in Turkey, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States, where it's facing a patent infringement lawsuit.
In explaining the company's business model, Oguz said the company hopes to supplement the revenue from its ticket plans with advertising on its website, corporate sales and eventually, deals with theatre companies to sell popcorn and other concessions within its app.
"Our goal is to create a bigger economy with a whole ecosystem and we gain a profit margin from all of the combination (of revenue streams)," Oguz said.
Thus far, while Sinemia offers tickets to Cineplex's venues, there's no partnership in place with the country's dominant theatre chain.
"We have no relationship with them so we aren't in a position to speak to their operations here in Canada or elsewhere," said Cineplex spokeswoman Sarah Van Lange, who declined an interview request.
A request for comment from Landmark Cinemas was not returned.
Canadian moviegoers have been discussing Sinemia's launch on Reddit and at the website Redflagdeals.com, where a discussion has generated more than 1,000 posts so far.
Most of the chatter has been positive, although some have posted about customer service issues, including receiving order confirmation messages in Turkish.
Oguz said the response in Canada so far has been "really encouraging" given the company launched with "almost no marketing."
"People were waiting for this service," he said. "Canada's market is a huge and great opportunity."
In February, MoviePass announced it was suing Sinemia in the U.S. alleging patent infringement that "has harmed MoviePass' existing customer relationships ... ability to obtain new customers and form new customer relationships."
While popular with many American moviegoers, MoviePass has struggled to get theatre companies onside with its business model.
It's parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics, warned in a financial report that the future of MoviePass is in "substantial doubt" because it "has incurred losses since its inception and has a present need for additional funding."
Adam Aron, CEO of the giant theatre chain AMC, has also called MoviePass' pricing "unsustainable."
— With files from The Associated Press