Moviefone is shutting down their 777-FILM phone service

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Over the last 25 years, people have been able to call 777-FILM to get movie listing information and buy tickets. This past weekend, callers were told that the service would soon be ending.

“The 777-FILM numbers will no longer be in service in the near future,” said the voice used for the calls. “To buy tickets and for all of your showtime information please download the free Moviefone app on your smartphone or iPad.” Russ Leatherman, one of the founders of Moviefone and provided the greeting, departed the company last November.

In the mid 1990s, Moviefone was very popular as it received over 3 million calls per week. Now thousands of people are calling per week.

Moviefone co-founder Andrew Jarecki blamed AOL’s management for the shutdown:

“It’s a missed opportunity and unfortunately characterizes the way AOL has mismanaged the Moviefone business for quite a while,” stated Jarecki. “The fact that a lot of people still call — hundreds of thousands a month, from what I have been told — shows that it isn’t some ancient idea.” AOL acquired Moviefone for $388 million in 1999.

Several theater owners launched their own services like Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com. AOL ended up outsourcing the upkeep of the telephone part of the service and quality suffered as a result. Jarecki wanted to buy back Moviefone in recent years, but those efforts failed.

[Source: NYT]

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