For movie lovers in certain parts of the country, Moviefone has been an entertainment staple for the last 25 years. But with technology advancing rapidly as more and more people rely on smartphones for just about everything, calls to the automated service have declined to the point where it’s now a necessity for the company’s owners to move on just to keep up.
The number for Moviefone will be disconnected in the coming weeks so that AOL, which bought the service in 1999, can focus on the app and some upgrades to content. AOL has handed over control of those things to BermanBraun, a web and television company, and while there is excitement about the upcoming changes, some think the end of the Moviefone line is needless.
“It’s a missed opportunity and unfortunately characterizes the way AOL has mismanaged the Moviefone business for quite a while,” Andrew Jarecki, one of the co-founders of Moviefone, said. “The fact that a lot of people still call — hundreds of thousands a month, from what I have been told — shows that it isn’t some ancient idea.”
Still, the re-branding may be coming at the perfect time, according to Kara Swisher of AllThingsD.com.
“The time may be right. Now, everything old is new again, it seems, as the explosion of smartphones and other mobile devices allows the old Moviefone name to actually feel current,” she wrote.
Russ Leatherman, a co-founder of the company who also provides the infamous voice of 777-FILM, says he’s sad to see the end of an era but is ready to embrace it at the same time.
“It’s been a total blast, but if I’ve heard my last ‘Do the voice,’ that’s O.K. too. I’m ready to work on new projects and get back to being an entrepreneur,” he said.
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