Whether you like it or not, Netflix has changed the way we consume things. They have popularized what is called the subscription model of consumption, where we pay a flat monthly fee and get more bang for our buck than if we had paid for items individually. Spotify, Apple, and Google have done this with music (pay a monthly fee and you get unlimited access to the music they have rights to); Disney is planning on doing it, launching a streaming service to compete with Netflix next year; heck, even my chiropractor does it where I pay a monthly fee and then get 4 visits. And of course, MoviePass is attempting it, albeit unsuccessfully.
Which brings us to Sinemia: a MoviePass competitor which allows you to see a finite amount of movies per month for a subscription fee. The amount you pay and the amount of movies you can see varies on which tier you want and whether you pay for a full year up front. I was always hesitant to pay for a year of MoviePass because I wasn’t sure if they would be around for the whole of that time window and they didn’t support my local theater chain, Harkins. I was always intrigued by Sinemia because it was similar to MoviePass but more sustainable because it limited the amount of films you could AND they support Harkins theaters.
As I type this, Sinemia is having a summer sale, which is what piqued my interest and ultimately led me to sign up. Here’s a link to their current plan line-up. I chose the classic 2-movie plan, mostly because that’s generally the minimum amount of movies I pay for in a month. I paid for the whole year up front.
After I signed up I got a message saying that the wireless activation of my account wasn’t complete and that it would take up to 2 weeks for that happen. They gave me the option to accelerate the process for a $10 fee, but I decided to wait it out.
I honestly was waiting for a card in the mail, however after two weeks (and a promotional email or two from them telling me that I could get free tickets if I referred a friend) I still hadn’t been notified that my account was fully active or received a card so I checked Reddit to see if others have had a similar issue. It turns out others had but that the company is the most responsive when contacting them via Twitter messaging. I then headed over to Twitter and messaged them asking them what the hold up was. They replied within 5 minutes, asked for some identifying info, and then after another 20 minutes and a reminder message sent by me they let me know that they don’t send cards in the mail anymore and that the account should be activated later that day. I don’t know if my contacting them sped up the process or if it was simply serendipitous that I contacted them on the day they were planning on activating.
PURCHASING A TICKET
As mentioned above, Sinemia has gone card-less, meaning that you don’t have a physical card that you can use to purchase a movie ticket. It turns out that unless you are a legacy user and were given a card at one time, if you want a ticket you must purchase it beforehand.
I then chose a showtime I wanted, went into the app (which was acting strangely on my Pixel 2 so I closed the app manually and then reopened it) and went to the ‘Planning’ tab and entered the necessary information: the theater you want to see the film at, the showtime, and whether it is 2D/3D/IMAX, etc. Unlike MoviePass, you don’t have to be within a certain distance from the theater to purchase the ticket. However, they do make you cover the ‘convenience fee’ that you often incur when ordering tickets in advance.
After I input the info about my showtime I got a warning that I would be required to pay the convenience fee and that my payment method on record would be charged to cover it. After clicking OK I then was given a picture of a temporary credit card that was authorized to pay for the ticket. I say ‘picture’ because the app wouldn’t let me copy and paste the credit card number itself to use in another app. I think they expect you to be at a computer rather than on your phone, because switching between apps to type in the credit card info is a pretty awful user experience.
I ended up using the Harkins website itself to order the ticket and the payment went through without a hitch. I then went to the theater and they printed out my ticket just fine.
It also should be said that you can’t use more than one of your allotted tickets in a single day. For example, if I wanted to go to a film with my wife, we would have to pay full price for that second ticket, regardless if I have two tickets left in my monthly allotment.
HOW MUCH I ACTUALLY SAVED
I went to a matinee, which costs $8.50 normally at my local theater. Because I paid up front for the Sinemia membership, I am getting each of the tickets I use from them for approximately $4 each. So, in theory using the membership saved me $4.50 this time, which is awesome. However, I had to pay the convenience fee, which was $1.50 this time, and therefore only saved about $3 this time, which is still great, but not amazing.
I would have saved even more if I had gone to a non-matinee showtime, which would have run me about $10.50, and thereby saving me a phenomenal $5. Also, my local theater chain doesn’t support assigned seating currently, so if I had gone somewhere that did, then the extra $1.50 convenience fee would be completely worth the price I paid.
Outside of the unexpected convenience fee charge and being unable to copy and paste the temporary credit card number from the app to another app, Sinemia is a great product that will likely save you money if you’re willing to put in the work to make it work. It’s especially great for those who regularly see movies at night.