PreShow

It’s tough to be MoviePass nowadays. Your company is in shambles. Your $10-$15/month unlimited movie-watching plan is untenable (and seems to get new rules and restrictions every week, which now seemingly include algorithms to restrict power users or popular movies).

And now your founder is coming out with a competing product.

Stacy Spikes, the former CEO of MoviePass, just unleashed the like-minded PreShow on Kickstarter. The idea here is that you get to watch movies in theaters for free with no blackout period, but only after watching 15-20 minutes of branded content.

Once you watch the ads, a virtual card on your phone is credited and you can buy movie tickets however you normally would.

The caveats: It’s 2D screenings only. The app uses facial identification software to ID you, so you can’t pass the viewing off to friends (they do claim that nothing is recorded or stored, but where have we heard that before?). A motion detector pauses playback if you step away, so you can’t just set the screen down. And you’ll have to watch a PreShow twice to get two tickets … and you won’t be able to watch again after two until you use those tickets.

It seems a bit like this, to be honest:

PreShow is a private launch, so only people who back the Kickstarter (and friends of backers) will be invited to test it out. Different “waves” of PreShow invites are available now for $15-$60. But don’t get too comfortable with the free movie idea: only $686 (out of $10,000) had been raised at press time.

If you really want to watch unlimited movies, there are better and more convenient options than either PreShow or MoviePass. Our preferences:

AMC Stubs A-List: Three movies a week in any format for $23.95 a month. You’re limited to AMC theaters, but the program is on solid footing.

Alamo Drafthouse Season Pass: Already in beta testing, a subscription service to the popular boutique movie chain will be available for all Alamo theaters at $20/month (or slightly higher in larger cities) by the end of the year.

Cinemark MovieClub: Casual movie fans should dig this: for $8.99 per month, you get one 2D ticket (with small charges for different formats), 20% off concessions, waived fees and you can buy extra tickets for a reduced $8.99. Didn’t use your monthly ticket? It’ll roll over.

Sinemia: It’s not unlimited, but you get any format, pretty much any theater, no blackout days, rollover and family plans, and lots of options, from $4.99/month (one ticket) up to limitless plans for $50-$100 (plus a one-time membership fee).