Cinemark may not be as big as AMC Theatres, but it also has a subscription if you want cheaper access to movie tickets. There aren't as many theaters, but if there's no AMC around you, there will likely be a Cinemark to save the day. But is the price of its Movie Club plan worth it?
While most people wouldn't think it, Cinemark actually unveiled its subscription plan over half a year before AMC did. While its service is a bit modest, there are other perks that make it worth it if a Cinemark theater is nearby. And since Cinemark owns its theaters and concessions stands, it's not a sinking ship like MoviePass is, and it may even be doing better than AMC's Stubs A-List offering.
Before going any further, let's go over the app details. The Cinemark Movie Club subscription is accessible via the regular Cinemark Theatres app for both iPhone and Android phones. For iPhone users, you need to be running iOS 9 or later. For Android users, it'd be Android 5.0 and later.
The Cinemark Movie Club only has one plan available, and it's a bit modest with only one standard 2D movie each month for an $8.99 monthly charge. That said, if you don't use your allotted ticket for the month, it carries over, so you will rack up 12 movie passes a year on Cinemark's service no matter what. There are no family plan options to choose from.
Unlike MoviePass and Sinemia, Cinemark does not send you any Cinemark-branded debit card. Instead, like AMC's offering, you use your regular debit or credit card of choice to pay. As soon as you sign up, you can begin using the service right away, which is another great perk. And there is no initiation fee.
When you join Movie Club, you're automatically enrolled in Cinemark's loyalty program, Connections. If you're already a Connections member, you will maintain the same account.
As mentioned above, you can see one standard 2D movie each month, though, for an upcharge to cover the difference in cost, you can go with a premium format like XD, 3D, D-Box, or IMAX. Aside from formats, you may also be charged additional fees when using your pass at select theaters where the costs of tickets are high, such as the Cinemark Playa Vista and XD in Playa Vista, CA.
The best part about Cinemark's plan is that you choose when to see your movie, so there are no blackouts for dates or showtimes. And you can use the plan at any Cinemark, Century, CinéArts, Tinseltown, and Rave locations. You can even see multiple movies in one day if you have the available credits to do so.
For instance, if you haven't used Movie Club in three months, you could use all three of those credits for one movie with friends. You could also choose to see three different movies in one day (you are limited to three transactions per day) or just use them one by one whenever you have time to see movies again. If you liked a movie a lot, you could even see it again as many times as you want.
Whether you choose to use your passes in person at the box office or by ordering online or via the app, there are no fees. Even once your allotted tickets are gone, you will still not have any fees for tickets purchased at full price online or in the app. However, it should be noted that you cannot yet use Movie Club at theater kiosks.
And speaking of additional tickets beyond the allotted ones, all additional tickets will cost $8.99 for the remainder of the month, as well as one "companion ticket" so a friend can join you at the same price. However, if you want to upgrade to a premium format on additional tickets, you will have to pay the difference, which means you'll be paying full price for premium format tickets.
You can reserve tickets in advance with no limitations, as well as choose specific seats in theaters where reserved seating is available. Also, you can decide when to use your credit, so if it's a matinee that's $4.99, you won't want to waste that Movie Club credit. In person, you can say don't use the credit, while in the app, you can uncheck the box at checkout for using the credit.
When you're not sure how many Movie Club credits you have, it's easy to check in the app. Just go to the "Movie Club" section from the pull-out sidebar menu. There, you will see how many credits you have left and, if zero, when your next credits will be available.
If you live in an area where 2D tickets cost less than $8.99 each, Movie Club won't help you out on additional tickets. However, if you live in a big city with pricier tickets, it'd be a good deal. For example, at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza 15 and XD location, regular 2D movies are $13 at peak times, so you'd save $4 per ticket.
While the $8.99 per month plan for one 2D ticket and additional 2D tickets for $8.99 is a great deal in bigger cities, it'd take some convincing for that monthly price tag to seem right in smaller cities where 2D tickets usually max out at $7.99 each. But that's where the concessions discounts come into play.
Unlike AMC's wimpy concessions perks for A-List, Cinemark's is a good deal. You get 20 percent off all items except alcohol or merchandise, as well as dairy products in some states, oddly enough. If you usually spend $20 on food and drink for each movie, you'd only be paying $16 with the discount.
Cinemark clearly states that if you have a concessions coupon, such as a $3 off coupon you'd get by using your Connections points, that you can't use it with the 20 percent off for Movie Club. However, I've had success using those types of coupons with the 20 percent off, even though the fine print has stated it's not allowed. Your mileage may vary.
To get the 20 percent off, just have the cashier scan your Connections QR code. For any coupons you have, go to either "Connections" or "Movie Club" in the pull-out sidebar menu, then tap "Reward" to find your coupon. Alternatively, you can just select "My Rewards" from the sidebar menu to jump right there. Each coupon has its own QR code they will scan.
If you want to view your history with the Movie Club plan in the app, it's pretty limited. You can only see tickets purchased via the app or online via the "View Purchased" option in "My Account." Credits or tickets purchased using Movie Club at a box office will not show up anywhere.
When you reserve a ticket and can't make it to the theater, Cinemark lets you get a refund for the ticket or tickets, which is readily available online or in person. Credits will return to your account, and any extra payments you made will return to the card used. You must start a refund request before the start of the movie or you won't be able to receive refunds.
All members must be 18 years or older to sign up, and you can sign up for multiple accounts as long as you use a different email address for each. If you ever decide to cancel your membership, you can do so online or over the phone, and if you want to join back up again, there's no waiting period.
Movie Club members also get all the benefits of Connections, which means you can earn points which can be used to get coupons, free movies, merchandise, and more. For each transaction you make, whether tickets or concessions, you get 10 points. However, you cannot receive more than 25 points in one 24-hour period. You used to be able to earn points using its "CineMode" feature in the app, but that program was canceled. Points expire after one year.
Speaking of points, is there a referral program? No, but others can gift you monthly credits for Movie Club, and you can do the same to others. Full details here.
There is no chat support in the app, so if there are any issues, you will have to call or email Cinemark for help. But, like AMC, Cinemark is pretty transparent about changes to its plan, so if the price ever increases or discounts go down, it will let you know ahead of time and give you the option to back out.
Overall, Cinemark Movie Club is a solid plan, but only if Cinemark is the only theater you visit. Cinemark has 337 locations in the US, so you could very well live within a reasonable distance of one.
Want to see lots of films each month? AMC's Stubs A-List might be a better value, but only if AMC locations are nearby. Sinemia might also be a good option, but you might want to avoid MoviePass.
If you live in an area where tickets are already cheap for 2D showings, it's only worth joining if you tend to buy a lot of food and drinks to get that 20 percent off. Otherwise, if you only see 2D movies without concessions, and evening and weekend tickets are $7.99 each, you obviously won't want to waste your money. But if you do get lots of food and drinks, you could be saving some dough.
This article was produced during Gadget Hacks' annual Movies & TV on Mobile special coverage. Read all of the Movies & TV on Mobile coverage.