Online Movie Ticket Site Set for Summer

Seven of America’s largest movie theater chains said Tuesday that their Internet movie ticketing venture, christened Fandango, will start up as a pilot program in the next few weeks before its full service launch later this summer.

“Fandango is an instantly recognizable and distinctive name that sets us apart in our industry and precisely conveys the magical image associated with going to the movies,” said J. Michael Kline, the acting CEO of the venture.

The companies are entering a competitive field that has attracted the likes of America Online (AOL), which purchased the Internet movie review and ticketing service Moviefone last year.

In addition to competing against AOL and Moviefone, Fandango is up against MovieTickets.com, a joint venture between AMC Entertainment and Hollywood.com, which offers movie reviews and show times for over 30,000 screens.

will offer a variety of services and information — including remote ticketing, movie reviews, trailers and show times — through Internet, telephone and wireless devices.

The venture was announced in March by partners Loews Cineplex, Regal Cinemas, General Cinemas, Cinemark Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, Edwards Theatres and Century Theatres. Together, the companies sold over 650 million tickets in 1999 for their 15,000 movie screens in North America.

The venture is backed with an initial investment of $30 million (US$). Venture capital firms General Atlantic Partners and Accretive Technology Partners took part in the funding.

Ticketing Made Easy

Fandango will be run as an independent company with its own management team and board of directors. The company is banking that the voracious movie-going American public will turn to new technology to guarantee seating at Hollywood’s blockbuster summer movies.

Cinemark, one of the partners in the venture, brings a considerable amount of online ticketing savvy to the equation. The Plano, Texas-based chain of 2,700 screens across the United States, Canada and South America claims to be the first major chain to introduce online ticketing.

Cinemark is developing a wireless system that will accommodate cell phones and Palm Pilot devices, and even allow moviegoers to print their tickets at home. The company has been testing its online system in Dallas, Texas theaters.

Cinemark also plans to install kiosks in theaters to allow Internet patrons to bypass box office lines.

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