Ever since Edison decided to sell the Vitascope Projector, which jump-started the movie industry in 1896, newspapers like the Buffalo Express have been used to advertise feature attractions such as "Trotting Race at Charter Oak Park" and "The Bathers" to the public.
The past 100 years have seen incredible changes in both the film and news industries, leading to change in how movie theaters tell the public about their current shows. But now, instead of printing movie showtimes in the local paper every day, major theaters like AMC, Regal and Carmike are cutting back to weekend-only listings, or dropping the print versions all together.
The trend to list movies online is just the latest thorn in the newspaper industry's mortally-wounded side. On top of losing the ad revenue from printed movie listings, newspapers will find it difficult to compete with online movie listing sites such as Fandango, which provide listings for free, making money through ticket sales and advertising.
Our local theater, Carmike Cinemas, tried to cut its newspaper advertising budget last year by dropping the movie listings from the daily paper. At first they choose a much smaller listing, which directed users to visit their website for movies and showtimes, including a full listing on weekends-only. Eventually, Carmike even purchased a notice in the local paper to explain the change, and direct readers to online movie listing locations.
The change was short-lived, as my town apparently leans heavily toward the 20-40% of moviegoers who don't get their movie listings online. After residents voiced their complaints around town, full movie listings returned to the newspaper on a daily basis.
With the prevalence of data-enabled phones and continual Internet connections at home, it's almost a certainty that someone in your movie-watching party will be able to pull up the current showtimes without getting an ink-stained hand.
Couple easy availability with the fact that there are fewer people subscribing to the paper, and the end of this conflict is as easy to predict as that of the latest romantic comedy!
Movie listings leaving newspapers nationwide