Movie theatre directory ads going the way of the dinosaur

posted by CSWalczak on August 26, 2009 at 7:40 am

For those of us who grew up getting our information about what film was playing where by reading the movie directory and display ads in the local newspaper, this source is rapidly disappearing as the big chains especially are withdrawing print advertising in favor of web-based and other electronic sources. Those who use these sources, especially those who use newspaper archives for research purposes, a source of information and nostalgia may cease to be available sooner than we may may realize.

Looking to cut costs, the theater chains are instead directing consumers to their Internet sites or third-party sites, like Fandango, Moviefone or Flixster, which offer those listings for free and make money from the fees they charge for selling advance tickets to movies. Many of those sites also feature film reviews and movie trailers.

The effort may be gaining some traction, as U.S. Internet traffic to AMC’s Web site rose 21 percent in July compared with a year ago, according to comScore Inc., while visits to Regal’s Web site were up 18 percent.

More information at Urban Citizen.

This was discussed here about a year and a half ago in this story.

Comments (16)

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on August 26, 2009 at 9:24 am

our city every theater still does ads——-9 theaters every day

shoeshoe14 on August 26, 2009 at 10:05 am

Our paper used to, but stopped 6 months ago. And sometimes would say, “not available as of press time” but that was BS since it was a multiplex.

biograph68 on August 26, 2009 at 10:53 am

I have a handful of favorite theaters. I signed up on their email lists and that is the primary way I know what they are showing. Another thing I like is that the independent theaters will occasionally as an opinion about a special event (“Should we show the Lord of the Rings trilogy on one weekend?” or “Is there interest in presenting opera theatercasts?”). As a consumer, I feel more connected to the theaters with email. And it cheap advertising for them!

KingBiscuits on August 26, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Around here, theatres still run ads. But this has been a continuing trend (AMC had discontinued weekday advertising a while back in Kansas City). Even studios are doing it (Fox has avoided running print ads on many films lately and a recent hit for them, Taken, had a very low-key print ad campaign).

JodarMovieFan on August 26, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I have used and relied on the local movie directory for years, until recently. In my area we have DC, Maryland and Virginia and the venues that are within. If a movie opened, it was a great source of one glance info to find where your movie was opening, when it was showing, which theater and what the theater amenities had for that particular movie. Before it was 70mm, Stereo, Dolby Stereo. Now its Digital Stereo, Digital Projection. 3D, IMAX and/or THX certification if the venue so advertises it. Now its virtually nothing. It sucks. The movie ads, themselves, do not have the delineation it used to either. Now you have to bookmark the various chains and independents in your browser and open them in tabs to get the info. It sucks.

robboehm on August 26, 2009 at 7:01 pm

On Long Island I used to rely on mailings from the theatre chains themselves. Century had three groupings of theatre directories which came every other week – Northern Queens, Brooklyn, and Queens, Nassau and Suffolk. Prudential also had a Long Island Guide. I saved examples of these for more than 20 years only throwing them out when I moved a few years ago. Who knew I’d hook up with this site where such items are treasured. I still have some clipped Century ads, however, which for some reason, made the cut.

christofermeissner on August 27, 2009 at 6:59 am

My feelings about this trend (which is happening even in the relatively small market I am near, Fargo, North Dakota) are two-fold. First, it’s another sign of how most of the things that we used to rely on daily newspapers for—not only movie listings, but TV listings, classified ads, and all variety of other mundane, quotidian information—have migrated to the web, leaving the newspaper industry in a state of crisis. This crisis in journalism and in the daily American newspaper is one of the most interesting stories of our time. Second, it is a crisis for historical research, as the movie listings in newspapers have been a reliable source of historical information about movie theaters, theater programming, and the dynamics of American film exhibition. Much of the information on this website relies on access to such information in newspapers of years past. When it comes time to write the history of film exhibition and movie theaters of the early-2000s (and beyond) it’s going to be hard (or impossible) to find accurate information on what theaters existed, what movies they played at given times, and all of the other information that we take for granted and that has always been in newspapers regarding movie theaters.

markp on August 27, 2009 at 8:44 am

Here in New Jersey, you NEVER see ads from individual theatre companies or indy’s anymore. All we get is a block studio ad that says type your zip code in on the web for theatres and showtimes. I remember back in the 70’s making up the weekly ads for GCC where we had 4 0r 5 of the area theatres in one ad with showtimes and price info. At the place I work, they wish more people would come, I say advertize, but they say its too expensive. Catch-22 all the way around.

moog on August 27, 2009 at 11:21 am

What if I don’t put my desktop on the day I decide to go to a movie? Do I really have to go through options on the phone to get listings? Do I have to print timetables weekly?
“The Newark Star Ledger” prints the listings Thursday through Sunday. I guess I can use the Friday edition for the week. Which works if the schedule is the same.

The heck with it. I’ll just take the 20.50 (two adults eve) and rent four DVD’s.

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on August 27, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Moog … true cinema lovers never say the heck with it and rent dvds..

KJB2012 on August 27, 2009 at 6:10 pm

As print itself fades into history, it isn’t surprising that movie adverts are on the way out.

However there is a downside. Print adverts are seen by people not even thinking of going to a movie. How many times have you seen as advert and decided you wanted to see the movie?

One has to be proactive with the internet. You have to go to the site. Thus the causal movie going will no doubt miss out on going to some movies. And the theatres will miss out on ticket sales.

christofermeissner on August 27, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Kirk, you make a good point about newspaper movie advertisements generating incidental interest in a film. I wonder if theatre chains/distributors have considered this angle. My guess is that they have, and have decided that the dwindling overall newspaper readership makes the loss worth the savings from the expense of newspaper ads. The bulk of younger movie fans (high school and college age) are likely not newspaper readers anyways, and get their awareness of what movies are in release or about to be in release from other sources (mainly online).

moog on August 28, 2009 at 11:33 am

Long Island Movies, I don’t think being a “true cinema lover” means I have to embrace today. I don’t get excited anymore at megaplexes. I have to rent a DVD if I want to see an arthouse movie. There aren’t any theaters in Middlesex County NJ that play foreign movies. Movie City in Edison doesn’t count.

Today’s cinemas are okay, but I find the presentation is designed for the obedient consumer. While I still like going to the movies, I have cut back from 40 a year in a theater to about six. If I don’t see the movie listings, the number will drop even lower.

JohnHolloway on August 29, 2009 at 10:34 am

Movie ads today are so boring! A film title with dozens of “critics” grabs (eg. remember a few years back when “2 thumbs up” was THE big selling point?“
How I long for the days when movies were sold to the public with wonderful art-work and a sense of what the movie was about. Look no further than 1960’s examples of "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum” or “The Yellow Rolls Royce”. Beautifully designed publicity that left the public in no doubt as to the type of movie they were about to buy tickets for. Truly, a lost art-form.

ceasar on September 24, 2009 at 6:35 am

What has been interesting with Wilcox Theatres, a startup, which opened back in November of 07 they have a website too. But I still the see the common mistakes they make. Like at advertising the poster of Inglorious Bastard and it doesn’t open on the opening weekend for example. Same applys to the flop Jennifer’s Body that didn’t happen either. One thing I have learned is the fact that the Jackson Metro market has its teeth deep in this market. Teens are going to to Clinton UA Cinema to see what they want to see; like Wilcox is making the mistake of holding Halloween2 for a long peirod time and usually they get a film which was release on opening weekend a week or two weeks later. But one interesting comment the teens have made the statement that they would love to see a stand slone cinema from the mall.
But my friends are questioning how long Wilcox is going to last.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 28, 2009 at 4:06 pm

I enjoyed every friday getting the paper and just look over all the ads and most were not cut and paste like today or sharing day and date with several theatres. No at one time most cities of average size had one print for ONE SCREEN. I worked witha city manager here in Augusta,Georgia. He worked up an ad for JAWS that had how many times the PROJECTIONIST watched it Total time how much feet ,ETC. {you can read more about it on the IMPERIAL THEATRE site}

He also took a picture of CLINT EASTWOOD and had him walking down BROAD STREET as DIRTY HARRY in the ENFORCER. No talent toady.No one cares about snappy promotions. YEAH, I miss the old ads , but had enough sense to save quite a few old ads.

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