(Credit: Screenshot: Download.com/Tom McNamara)

Despite the rise of television, the Internet, and streaming media, movie theaters remain a cultural institution, albeit an increasingly expensive one. Last year, a startup called MoviePass (Android, iOS) begin offering a flat-rate plan for just $9.95 a month, but it's apparently struggled to cover costs and keep membership applications open, as a result of its extremely low price tag.

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Enter competitor Sinemia (Android, iOS), who has just announced a competing service for the US, UK, and Australia -- $30 a month to watch as many movies at the theater that you can cram in. It's triple the price of MoviePass's offering, but with all signs pointing to the latter company bleeding cash as a result of its bargain-basement pricing, Sinemia's angle is that this cost ensures a "sustainable" service.

In the announcement, Sinemia CEO and founder Rifat Oguz says, "We've spent four years testing and fine-tuning our unlimited tickets model and are confident this is the right price to sustainably offer such a plan."

We did not see the $30 per month tier present in the mobile app yet, but you can sign up for it at Sinemia's website. Note that this tier, labeled "A Movie Every Day," does not currently include 3D or IMAX films.

Sinemia says that the average movie ticket in the US is $9, so if your regional prices are higher (which is definitely the case here in the San Francisco Bay Area), then this more expensive pass could pay for itself even faster. If you're like most people, you usually only go to the movies on weekends, in which case $30 might not seem like a bargain but an all-you-can-eat pass might change things.

Not only does an all-you-can-eat movie buffet offer a lot of value, but if your plans for a given evening change unexpectedly, you don't have to worry about eating the cost of an individual ticket. You can just reschedule. And if you decide you don't like the flick, you can just walk out of the theater and go see something else (unless the showing in question is sold out).

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Of course, if you're buying these monthly passes for a family of four, that could get expensive, but Sinemia also offers group rate discounts, and plans for 2 or 3 flicks a month, including 3D and IMAX options. The three-per-month deal is $18 per month.

If you don't care about 3D or IMAX, you can watch three regular flicks for $10 per month. If you usually reserve movies for the weekend, then this last choice may be the most economical. Be aware that plans have a one-time "Club Membership Initiation" fee of $20 if you sign up on a month-to-month basis. You can avoid this fee by signing up for a full year.

You can sign up for the plan of your choice within the mobile app, where you can also purchase tickets ahead of time and optionally make ridesharing arrangements. If you just want to browse the app, be aware that you need to create an account first. Account creation also doesn't include a check to verify that you've filled in your desired password correctly, so make sure to get that right to avoid having to ask for a password reset later.

The takeaways

  • MoviePass competitor Sinemia is launching a competing all-you-can-eat pass for movie tickets, priced at $30 a month.
  • This is three times the cost of MoviePass, but Sinemia asserts that its service is sustainable. (MoviePass has struggled to achieve profitability and keep membership applications open, reportedly due to its extremely low prices.)
  • Interested cinemaphiles can sign up within the mobile app or on Sinemia's website.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.