On this week, ten years ago, six national theatre chains announced their plans to form a joint venture that would “begin a new era for the industry”. The chains involved included Lowes Cineplex Entertainment, Regal Cinemas, Cinemark Theatres, General Cinema Theatres, Edwards Theatres, and Century Theatres. The “new” concept would be selling movie tickets online, via Fandango.com.
Even in 2000, online ticket sales weren’t exactly a new idea. Moviephone, which had made a name for itself selling tickets over the telephone, had already established an online service and sold the operation to AOL by 1999. Additionally, Movietickets.com, a venture backed by Hollywood.com, AMC Theatres, and National Amusements, had announced plans for a similar online service a month prior to the six chain operation. However, being the “.com” era (all be it the tail end), anything related to the Internet was seen as “industry changing” and “the future”.
Ultimately, this “new era” would prove to be more of another available option for movie goers than true industry changer. The promises of non existent box office lines, no hassle transactions, and “straight to your movie” service never quite materialized; nor did the chains’ intended payroll savings and streamlined operations (some had envisioned this as the first step in fully automated theatres). The vast majority of movie goers continued to utilize theatre box offices for their tickets, with online sales generally existing as a somewhat awkward and less favored option.
Perhaps, the one true revolutionary change that resulted from the online movement was a dramatic shift in where moviegoers went for theatre and show time information; the near century old stand bye of newspaper print adds being quickly replaced by these online services. Certainly not the consumer trend the industry was aiming to create in 2000, but one they have come to encourage and exploit over the ensuing years.
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