Moviefone, the iconic service that provided American moviegoers with local showtimes and theater information, is shutting down its telephone service next month. Fans dialing 777-FILM are now treated to a message announcing the closure, but encouraging callers to migrate to the service’s mobile app instead.
The 777-FILM numbers will no longer be in service in the near future. To buy tickets and for all of your showtime information please download the free Moviefone app on your smartphone or iPad.
Jeff Berman, whose BermanBraun firm will help AOL transition Moviefone to an exclusively online presence, told The New York Times that the service’s call-in number, while still relatively popular, has been in decline for several years, and that a “major reimagining” for the future of the service necessitated a move away from traditional telephone calls and towards online and mobile experiences.
Moviefone’s founder, Andrew Jarecki, had a different take. He told the Times that the demise of the service, which at its peak handled more than 3 million calls a week, was a “missed opportunity” and a result of the way that parent AOL had “mismanaged” the company.
In the age of the Internet and smartphones, it’s not surprising at all to see a company like Moviefone transition away from its call-in service. Although cutting edge at the time of its introduction in 1989, Moviefone’s touchtone system is now archaic and inefficient compared to a few keystrokes or taps on a mobile Web browser. Regardless of what happens to the service going forward, however, the word “Moviefone” will always evoke memories of a certain man named Cosmo, at least for us.
Moviefone first launched in New York City and Los Angeles in 1989. It later expanded to more than 30 markets across the United States. The company was purchased by AOL in 1999 with stock worth about $525 million at the time of the deal, and later entered partnerships with first MovieTickets.com in 2001 and then Fandango in 2012.