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Moviefone Shuts Down Phone Service, Promises ‘Reimagining’

The once-dominant Moviefone, controlled by AOL and BermanBraun, will live on as an app

Moviefone is shutting down its phone-in ticketing business to focus on its app, according to Jeff Berman, president of BermanBraun, which runs the declining movie ticket service.

Berman told the New York Times: “The call-in service has been in pretty steady decline… Our customers are much more interested in our award-winning app, and we need to invest our resources in the future, part of which involves a major reimagining of Moviefone.” This weekend, callers were informed that the service would soon go silent.

Once a dominant force in the world of movie ticketing and listings, the service is best known for the voice of “Mr. Moviefone,” provided by founder Russ Leatherman, that greeted callers. That voice will now go silent. BermanBraun assumed operational control of Moviefone from AOL in October, though the two continue to run it as a partnership.

Also read: How Fandango Won the Online Movie Ticketing War

Lloyd Braun, a founder of BermanBraun (his co-founder Gail Berman has left the company), augured this shift with comments he made to TheWrap a few months ago, saying his company “saw a big opportunity in the space to really reinvent Moviefone for the mobile world.”

He also promised an overhaul, and Berman told the Times that AOL and BermanBraun will present a revitalized Moviefone brand in the coming months, though he provided no detail.

Also read: BermanBraun on Moviefone’s Revival: We See Enormous Opportunity in a Stalled Brand

AOL paid $388 million for Moviefone in 1999 and tried to reinvent the service as a destination for movie news. Moviefone co-founder Andrew Jarecki accused AOL of mismanaging the business, which AOL rebutted. Though an AOL executive said thousands of people still use the automated ticket service, there is no denying Moviefone has fallen behind its rivals, principally Fandango.

At its peak in the mid-1990s, Moviefone received more than three million calls a week, according to the Times.