If it were a film, the past 12 months at MoviePass would be titled Year of the Living Dead.

Once a crusading force for American movie consumers, driving down the price of cinema to an astounding $9.95 per month and putting terror into the hearts of America's movie chains, MoviePass and its parent company Helios and Matheson (NASDAQ:HMNY) imploded in 2018 as it became glaringly obvious that the company couldn't make a profit selling potentially $300 worth of movie tickets a month for 97% off.

Darkened empty movie theater with floor littered with popcorn

Image source: Getty Images.

Day of the undead

In April 2019, however, the company attempted to rise from the grave. Reviving its famous $10-a-month, all-you-can-see movie pass and promising to do better by its customers, MoviePass added one important condition: This time, subscribers would need to pay for all 12 months of a year-long service upfront. (Which didn't make MoviePass seem like a pyramid scheme at all.)

At the time, I warned investors (and moviegoers) not to fall for the gambit, highlighting the fine print, such as MoviePass reserving the right "to limit the selection of movies and/or the times of available movies." That caveat, along with MoviePass's explicit failure to guarantee that customers would actually be able to see any movies, suggested to me that even MoviePass and Helios themselves knew this revival effort would end in disaster.

Declaring time of death

Five months later, that's exactly what happened, when Helios and Matheson announced that it was "interrupting the MoviePass service for all its subscribers" and pursuing "a sale of the Company" -- but with no promises that it would be successful in finding anyone who wanted to buy it.

Closing the coffin

And now, the final scene has rolled. On Wednesday, Helios and Matheson filed what looks likely to be its last 8-K report ever with the SEC.

"After considering strategic alternatives," said the company, "Helios and Matheson Analytics [and MoviePass] each filed a voluntary petition for relief ... under the provisions of Chapter 7 of Title 11 of the United States Code ... in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York."

The four remaining members of the company's Board of Directors have "tendered their resignations" and henceforth "the Company will have no members serving on its Board of Directors."

Likewise, both the company's Interim Chief Executive Officer and its Interim Chief Financial Officer have resigned. 

What happens now?

Now, MoviePass's fate -- and the fate of investors in its parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics -- lies with the bankruptcy courts.

If you're unfamiliar with the mechanics of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may want to review this article. Basically, though, what happens now is that all of MoviePass's (and Helios') assets will be tallied up, sold off, and liquidated for whatever cash can be collected. These few sad pennies will then be divvied up to pay off the companies' creditors. Anything left over (hint: There won't be anything left over) will then be distributed to Helios' shareholders.

In short, Helios will be liquidated and go away forever, and its shareholders will be wiped out.

In short, MoviePass is over for good -- and this time, there will be no sequel.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.