Just a few years ago, lovers of movies had one option of finding out where and when a film was playing: the newspaper. Remember them? They came sometime after scrolls and before Pong.
Next came Mr. Moviefone. Who of you cannot hear a certain voice in your head as you read: 'Hello and welcome to Moviefone'? The voice has been doing it since 1989, and has recorded over three million voice prompts. Moviefone represents many theater chains including: some AMC screens, Cineplex Odeon, Clearview Cinemas, Galaxy Cinemas, and National Amusements theaters depending upon location.
And then came the Internet.
Some years later, in 2000 Fandango emerged to create some competition. Using a ton of funny commercials and movie trailers featuring paper bag puppets, they gave Moviefone a run for their money representing such chains as: some AMC screens, Carmike Cinema, Century Theaters, CineArts, Cinemark, Edwards, Regal, United Artists, and others depending upon location.
Both have Internet sites where, for a service charge ranging from $.75 to $2.00, tickets could be bought online to make sure you wouldn't be shut out of that midnight showing of Transformers 2.
Then came the iPhone/iPod Touch and things got considerably easier, although there is no clear demarcation of what service sells what, or where. I want to give you two alternatives, each using one of the two competing services.
Now Playing - Free
This is one of the nicest apps going. It uses Fandango for purchasing tickets, but it does a whole lot more. In fact, it has the fullest feature set of any movie app I've come across. Here are some of the things it can do:
Netflix management: Many options found on the Netflix site are available here but I found them a bit harder to get to than on the web site. Queues can be re-ordered, add to or deleted from. When adding you have the option of moving your choice to the top of your queue. If you're not sure if you want it, you can be transferred to Amazon, IMDb, Wikipedia or even the Netflix site via Safari for more information. I should note that when using any of the Netflix oriented functions, the app takes quite a while to download all your Netflix account information.
Movie searching by theater: Choose a theater and get show times and the option of playing a trailer. A website button brings you to all of the sites mentioned plus the Metacritic review site, or you can read the first paragraph of a number of reviews from top critics. You are also alerted if the movie is already in your Netflix Queue and given the Netflix star rating.
Movie schedules can be emailed. A full list of upcoming movies along with DVD release dates can be found along with the ability of saving any upcoming title to your Netflix queue to receive it after it's released.
It doesn't have the nicest interface out there, but it's jammed with functionality and the price is certainly right.
Note: Fandango service charges a 'convenience fee' ranging from $.75 to $2.00 depending upon venue and location.