The top two U.S. movie theater chains, Regal Entertainment and AMC Entertainment, have begun reducing or eliminating the small-type listings showing the start times for movies at individual
theaters. Theaters typically pay newspapers to print that information.
The problem is that newspaper readers have come to expect such listings. Seeing them curtailed or disappear could give them yet another reason to abandon their subscriptions. "For readers, some ads are actually considered news," says Mort Goldstrom, Newspaper Association of America VP. "Ads for concerts and things at clubs, for restaurants and movies give people a reason to read newspapers," he says. However, the revenue that newspapers generate from print movie listings is relatively small.
The theater chains are now 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. Regal says its surveys found 60% to 80% of respondents receive their movie listings online. The company has eliminated print ads in San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Orlando, Fla.and other markets. Regal says ticket sales in those areas haven't significantly changed.