Moviefone is far away from its glory days. The outdated owner of MoviePass, Helios Matheson & Analytics has sold the once legendary movie listing service for just $1.075 million as part of bankruptcy proceedings.
That amount is just a fraction of the $388 million AOL subsumed into it’s parent company Verizon Media, bought it for in year 1999. It’s not obvious what the winning bidder Born in Cleveland LLC intends to do with Moviefone, but it’s safe to say that Moviefone’s heyday isn’t coming back.
That service has a long and very tortured history. It has started as an automated phone offering in 1989, and it quickly grew in fame as an option for finding showtimes in an era when the newspapers and landlines ruled. Moviefone role in a famous Seinfeld bit spoke volumes about its influence on popular culture.
The growing doubtfulness of internet access was not kind to Moviefone. Although it did embrace the web and mobile apps, it simply wasn’t necessary when any theater or search engine could offer similar features. It shrunk to the point where Helios & Matheson could snap it up for a total of $9 million in cash and stock. After Helios & Matheson went bankrupt, Moviefone was reportedly run by just one person. It was a classic example of a company basing its business around technology became obsolete, the surprise is simply that Moviefone has clung to life for so long.