What happened

At long last, Helios and Matheson Analytics (NASDAQ:HMNY) appears to have struck upon a business plan with a chance of viability. But is it too late?

This morning, after vaporizing more than 99.5% of its shareholders' wealth in the space of just eight trading days, the MoviePass owner announced a new plan that it says will "ensure [the] long-term stability" of the MoviePass business, and maybe, just maybe, give Helios and Matheson shareholders a chance of not being wiped out completely.

Instead of selling members the right to see one movie per day, any movie, any day of the week, and every day of the month for $9.99, MoviePass will from here on out limit its members to seeing just three "free" movies per month -- still for $9.99. (MoviePass will also pay $5 toward the cost of any tickets purchased beyond the initial three).

MoviePass shares are up 37.9% on the news as of 10:50 a.m. EDT.

90% off in outsize letters

MoviePass just cut its member benefits by 90%. Hurray? Image source: Getty Images.

So what

MoviePass' latest plan represents a 90% rollback in its initial promise of one-movie-a-day, which won't please a lot of subscribers. On the other hand, it also rolls back such unpopular half-measures previously instituted (or said to be under consideration) such as:

  • Raising prices to $14.99 per month.
  • Blacking out all first-run movies for their first two weeks in theaters.
  • Imposing various surcharges to see movies during times of "peak" demand.
  • And requiring subscribers to send photos of their movie tickets to justify MoviePass paying for them.

Now what

MoviePass promises that all of these limitations will go away effective Aug. 15 for any monthly subscribers who agree to "transition" to the new plan. Annual subscribers "will not be affected by this plan until their renewal dates." MoviePass did not clarify what will happen to its longest-term, and most loyal annual customers in the interim, nor did it explicitly state the consequences for failing to agree to "transition."

There are therefore still a lot of unknowns at work here, not least of which is how MoviePass customers will respond to the new value proposition. One thing is certain, though: MoviePass just eliminated up to 90% of its costs while keeping its theoretical revenue intact. That has to be good news for Helios and Matheson's profits -- and that's why "MoviePass stock" is jumping today.

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.