AMC's new Stubs A-List is a premium movie theater subscription designed to compete with MoviePass. How does it stack up?
Seeing a movie at the theater is a classic pastime that many of us enjoy, whether it's on a weekly or monthly basis, or even a few times a year for those big blockbusters.
Personally, I've always enjoyed going to the theater (even though some moviegoers can totally end up ruining the experience) as a date night thing with my significant other. I love watching movies (and avoiding spoilers on big releases) as they come out because I've usually been waiting for them and can't wait to watch them to discuss with friends and family.
While MoviePass has been around for quite some time, they got a surge of new customers in recent years after they dropped the price of a subscription to $9.99 a month. For that price, moviegoers originally got one movie per day at any theater, with the only restriction being 2D movies.
But as MoviePass became more and more popular, they made changes that displeased many customers. For example, you could no longer see repeat movies and had to submit a photo of your ticket for verification.
I got frustrated with all of the new changes, and have been looking for a way out for a while. When AMC announced their new A-List tier of their Stubs program, I couldn't wait to sign up and get rid of MoviePass.
So what's the AMC A-List experience like and is it worth the money? Let's dive in and find out.
To get into the AMC A-List subscription, you're going to have to pony up $19.95 a month, for a minimum of at least three months.
While MoviePass costs half of that (even less if you pay annually), the AMC A-List gives you much more for the price. With A-List, you're getting three movies per week (weeks reset every Friday morning), and that includes IMAX, Digital 3D, Dolby Cinema, PRIME, and BigD formats.
A big perk of A-List is the fact that you can reserve your tickets (and seats)online, days in advance. Each movie that you reserve tickets for, excluding premium events, takes up a slot in your weekly allotment. Unfortunately, reservations don't roll over to the next week, and if your slots are full and you want to see something else, you'll need to either cancel an existing one or wait for the week to reset.
In addition to these cool benefits, A-List members also get all benefits of AMC Stubs Premiere, which typically costs $15 a year. This includes 10 percent back on all food and drink purchases, complimentary size upgrades on popcorn and fountain drinks, and Priority Lane access at the box office and concessions.
Considering the fact that AMC is the largest theater chain in the nation, having A-List membership seems worth it if you frequently go to AMC theaters for your moviegoing, which I do.
The biggest reason I wanted AMC A-List was the ticket reservation system, and it works flawlessly.
With MoviePass, you had to be within 100 yards of your preferred theater to "check-in" on the app, and then go purchase your tickets at the box office or kiosk. From my experience, you had to get to the theater early to try and get decent seats, especially for the big, highly-anticipated releases.
This often led to my fiancé and I having to go back and forth on the AMC ticket kiosk, trying to find a showing with two seats together, and not smack in the front of the screen. More often than not, while we got tickets, they were terrible seats that I didn't like or there was just nothing available at all. While MoviePass does have online ticket reserving, it's only with a very small amount of theaters, and none of them are near me.
I'm so relieved to report how easy it is to get your tickets with A-List. Just find the movie you want, pick your location, and then a showtime. If your theater has reserved seating, you'll get prompted to select your seat(s).
While you can select multiple seats and get multiple tickets, they'll charge extra for them. There's also an option to make your reservation an A-List movie, or you can pay for it normally.
Once your reservation's confirmed, you get a confirmation and a virtual ticket. Optionally, you can add your ticket into Apple Wallet for quicker access instead of opening the AMC Movies app and then going to My AMC > My Tickets. Plus, if you have Location Services enabled, your virtual ticket shows up on the lock screen when you're near the theater.
I've only seen one or two movies so far with A-List, but I'm already in love. The reserving process is fast, seamless, and being able to reserve days in advance has made life so much easier. MoviePass should have implemented this system long ago, but it's now too little too late.
Weekly movie limit
Honestly, the three movie a week limit doesn't bother me. Even when I had MoviePass and could go see a movie every day for the month, I never went more than once, twice, or maybe three times tops.
So while MoviePass may seem like the better option in terms of quantity, I don't think it really matters. Most people aren't going to watch a movie in the theater every day, after all. I mean, who has time for that, in all honesty? I love movies, don't get me wrong, but I also have other things I would like to do during the week.
With AMC A-List, each week starts on Friday morning, which makes sense since Fridays is when new releases come out. You'll have three reservations available for the week, though you can still reserve tickets for movies with advance sales available. These advance tickets count as a reservation for the following week.
While it may sound a bit confusing at first, the AMC Theaters app lays it out pretty well visually, so it's easy to see how many reservations you have remaining for the current week. If you're ever trying to make a new reservation and can't because your slots are full, you'll just need to cancel an existing one or just wait it out.
Either way, even though there's a weekly limit on how many movies you can see, A-List still triumphs over MoviePass, in my opinion. You can watch your three movies in a single day (with at least 2 hours in between each showing) or spread them out over the week — the flexibility is nice. Plus, A-List allows you to do repeat viewings (MoviePass no longer lets you do this), so you can watch the same movie three times a week if you wanted to.
Even though MoviePass seemed like a bargain, it was restrictive in the format of the movies you could see with it. You see, MoviePass only allowed you to view one 2D movie per day for the month. Though this may be good enough for most, there are some movies that are just so much better to see in a premium format, such as IMAX or Dolby Cinema.
Honestly, I'm used to just seeing 2D movies since that's all I had with MoviePass. However, now that I have the option of getting tickets for premium formats with A-List, I'm going to make the most of it if I can.
I love seeing the right movies in IMAX, and having the option of doing so with A-List makes it worth the monthly subscription price alone. In my area, IMAX tickets are about $18, so if you want to watch three IMAX films in a week, the A-List pays for itself right there.
If you are a film connoisseur and love watching the high-end theater formats, then A-List is definitely one to consider if you have AMCs close to you.
Get complimentary Premiere Perks
Before I met my fiancé, I didn't typically get concessions at the theater, unless I had some occasional craving. However, since I've started seeing movies with my significant other, he always has to get something to snack on during the film, so I end up getting some munchies too.
AMC has their own loyalty program called Stubs. There's two tiers for that: free and Premiere. With the free level, you'll get bonuses like free refills on large popcorn, $5 Ticket Tuesdays, and more. Premiere status gets you waived online convenience fees, free popcorn and fountain drink size upgrades, 10 percent back on those food and drink purchases, and even Priority Lane access.
Normally, Stubs Premiere costs $!5 a year to join, but these benefits come with your A-List membership at no extra cost. So when you get A-List, you're getting AMC's movie subscription program and their top-level loyalty program at the same time (a 2-for-1). It's a nice perk if you're always longing for some hot and fresh buttered popcorn at the movies.
Honestly, I think AMC Stubs A-List is well worth the cost of admission. While it's double the usual price of MoviePass, you're getting a lot more out of it, as long as you frequently go to AMC theaters (the largest theater chain in the nation).
I've dumped MoviePass since AMC A-List became available, and I have no regrets. For $20 a month, I'm getting three movies a week, all of which can be premium format viewings, and I can watch the same movie more than once if I want to.
Plus, having the ability to reserve my tickets and seats days in advance is well worth it alone, just for the convenience factor. I absolutely hated having to be within 100 yards of a theater to check in to a movie, especially if I didn't get the best cellular signal.
If you've been using MoviePass but mostly go to AMC, then I think it's time to dump MoviePass and join the A-List. Or if you want to start going to AMC theaters more for the premium formats and advance reservations, then it's time to join AMC Stubs A-List. Believe me, it's well worth it.