Anyone still remember when it was possible to call into a service and find out showtimes for theaters? Now all one needs to do is visit a website and they’ll be able to find out what’s playing and when across the country with a few keystrokes. It might date me and many others, but there was a time when we would actually have to read the newspaper to find out showtimes, and I can even recall dialing up the theater directly to find out when the movies were playing and what was featured. Hey, I come from a small town. But anyway, Moviefone, a part of the ill-fated MoviePass, is apparently bankrupt at this point and is down to a single employee that’s being kept around until the lights go off for good. That’s kind of a sad commentary on a service that was thought to be the beginning of something big and possibly quite lucrative in its own time, but it’s not entirely surprising really. Since the idea was founded in 1989 and was prominent throughout the 90s and part of the 2000s it’s easy to think that once the internet was up and running and made available to everyone the end was definitely nigh. The downfall of many services that were invaluable until the internet came along to make them all obsolete is fairly long, but somehow as Ryan Scott of MovieWeb would agree, Moviefone somehow hung on until this, the bitter end.
At this point trying to think of life pre-internet is starting to become fuzzy for some people but remains clear for a lot of us that didn’t grow up with the capability to reach out the wide world on a device with the information we wanted at our very fingertips. Life at that point might have appeared to be much simpler and the world a bigger and more amazing place, but nothing has really changed save for the access we now have to the world that existed outside our spheres of influence back in the day. The saddening part though is that the services such as Moviefone that used to b so convenient, in their own way, have had to be dropped by the wayside since they no longer serve a purpose in the current era. Just imagine if the internet is ever seen as obsolete, people might have as much of an issue with that as they did with the idea that encyclopedia’s and the Dewey decimal system were no longer as useful. When one really looks at it, a service that tells you the showtimes of various movies is kind of a luxury that wasn’t entirely needed since like it or not we still have newspapers and it doesn’t take a lot of space within a page to place showtimes as was so common at one time. But even the newspaper is becoming, or has almost become, obsolete thanks to the online sources that people can access so easily now. Todd Spangler of Variety has a bit more to say about this subject.
It really doesn’t need to be said but it is continually that the world is changing faster than a lot of us can keep up, and quite often it’s evident that those leading the charge are those that are either willing to turn their back on the past and continue along with the future, or those that will at least acknowledge and thank the past endeavors for giving rise to new and more efficient methods that have come along. Moviefone wasn’t exactly a groundbreaking and new type of service that would have done much going forward, but the plans for it make it sound as though this was about to be something that could have revolutionized the industry in its own small way. After all, the CEO had this to say about the service per Ryan Scott:
“Our subscribers are telling us they want to be able to get recommendations or read reviews by MoviePass subscribers. They don’t want to go to other sites, they want to have it all in one place. [Moviefone] gives us kind of a running start at building content for our subscribers… Today, many people go to Rotten Tomatoes. And we find our subscribers have a slightly different and, in fact, a more positive rating of movies. We want to be able to do our own presentation for our subscribers from fellow MoviePass subscribers that gives them more reflection of people like them, who love movies.”
It does kind of make a person wonder if those that put so much stock in something like Moviefone feel a little less intelligent at this point, or they just shrug their shoulders and say ‘that’s life’. Trying to take on Rotten Tomatoes wasn’t a bad idea when it came to reviews, but relying on a service like this without taking into account what would happen once the internet fired up almost makes it sound as though no one gave any thought to what might come next.