What happened

Shares of Helios and Matheson (NASDAQOTH:HMNY) caught an updraft today, rising all the way from $0.0088 per share to close at $0.0124 per share. That may not sound like much, but it worked out to a 40.8% gain for the stock.

Why did the MoviePass owner's stock take off? This morning, Helios and Matheson announced  a "new strategic direction" and a "new business model" emphasizing "self-generated revenues" among its three owned businesses, the MoviePass "theatrical subscription service," MoviePass Films production company, and Moviefone "multimedia media information and advertising service."

Check out the latest earnings call transcripts for companies we cover.

Empty theater with soda and popcorn on two seats

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Helios was a little vague on the details, and even vaguer on numbers. For instance, it didn't say a word about whether the 3.2 million subscribers it apparently still had hanging around, attempting (against all hope) to watch a movie or two on a subscription that had lost most of its value, are still extant.

Still, assuming there are still any subscribers on the rolls, the general idea here seems to be that MoviePass will offer them additional movie viewings, on top of those for which they are subscribed, as long as those additional movies are ones that were produced by MoviePass itself. In this way, the company might be able to leverage its subscriber base (again, assuming there is one) to drive additional traffic to theaters, and thus "enhance box office results" for such films.

Now what

Will the plan work? I have my doubts. But whether I'm right or wrong about that, the upshot for investors is this:

MoviePass had its shot at turning movie subscriptions a viable business model. It failed. It lost a lot of money, got itself delisted from the Nasdaq (last month), and has been survived by companies like Sinemia and AMC that took MoviePass's original idea and made a better business out of it.

Now traded on the over-the-counter market, Helios and Matheson has to play catch-up in a game that it, itself, invented.

Whether it succeeds or not, that's just sad.