A few weeks ago, I got MoviePass, a subscription-based movie ticketing service that lets you buy nearly unlimited movie tickets for only $10/month. It has pretty much changed my life, considering I can’t currently afford to drop $18 on one movie. But it turns out that in addition to facilitating my seeing Red Sparrow, MoviePass is also tracking my every move, and in fact is probably watching me type this very blog.
MoviePass users “check in” to theaters using the service’s app, but according to the Los Angeles Times, that app has started tracking users’ locations in order to figure out what people do before and after the movies. Allegedly, the service does this in hopes of one day going beyond movie recommendations—if you tend to go to dinner after a film, for instance, MoviePass wants to be able to recommend a place nearby, or even offer discounted meals or drink coupons. The company claims it will not sell users’ data. “We will use the data to better inform how to market potential customer benefits including discounts on transportation, coupons for nearby restaurants, and other similar opportunities,” MoviePass told the LA Times in a statement. (MoviePass did not immediately respond to Jezebel’s request for comment.)
While that’s a good marketing plan for MoviePass, it’s not super comforting that an app that’s supposed to just let me see Black Panther six times also knows that I snuck four mini-bottles of Woodbridge wine into Fifty Shades Freed, or that I went to three separate happy hours after Annihilation, or that I haven’t left my couch in 12 hours. It’s also a bit jarring to hear MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe’s justification for trailing us the way Jennifer Lawrence is supposed to trail her CIA agent love interest in the aforementioned Red Sparrow, as detailed by MediaPlayNews:
We get an enormous amount of information. Since we mail you the card, we know your home address, of course, we know the makeup of that household, the kids, the age groups, the income. It’s all based on where you live. It’s not that we ask that. You can extrapolate that. Then because you are being tracked in your GPS by the phone, our patent basically turns on and off our payment system by hooking that card to the device ID on your phone, so we watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards, and so we know the movies you watch. We know all about you. We don’t sell that data. What we do is we use that data to market film.
So, MoviePass doesn’t necessarily mean to stalk you at all hours, but they certainly can, which may be why my app is so convinced I would like Pitch Perfect 3 and the movie with the fish sex. Not that I’m giving it up—Pacific Rim: Uprising is coming out soon, after all.