Moviefone

“See ya later, and thanks for calling Moviefone!”

That’s the closing salutation of a call placed to 777-FILM, the home of Mr. Moviefone for 25 years. Sometime in the “near future,” he’ll say his goodbyes one more time and ride off into the sunset, as the Moviefone call-in line is being shut down once and for all.

The decision was handed down from the folks at AOL, who bought the service and brand in 1999 for a staggering $388 million, who will soon reintroduce the Moviefone brand and focus entirely on the service’s app.

Unless you grew up a movie-hungry child and teenager in the 1990s, as I did, it’s hard to imagine the days when you had to get movie times out of a newspaper. Harder still to imagine a time when calling a movie theater was not only a thing you could do, but a thing you had to do in order to know when to show up. Nowadays we have apps that allow us to buy tickets while stopped at a red light on the way to the theater. If you live near a really fancy theater, you don’t even need a paper ticket anymore. You can just hold up your phone to the teenager working the stations and you’re granted access to a world of imagination, free of any trees dying. It’s a nice world we live in now. It’s easier, cleaner and more efficient.

But I remember the heyday of Mr. Moviefone. When all you had to do was pick up the phone, dial 777-FILM and wade through an endless menu of options to get to the right theater and time. Sometimes it took a few tries. Alright, sometimes it took a lot of tries to get the information you needed. But his voice was unmistakable and the service he provided was useful. He was, at one point, even so popular as to be a subject of humor for the definitive show of the ’90s:

Aside from perhaps Cosmo Kramer, no one is going to miss the Moviefone call-in service. The usage of which has been steadily declining for years. Not even the nostalgic generation, which celebrates all that is vintage and used, will shed a tear for him. But I’ll remember him fondly, as he was, a oft-frustrating, easily accessible, mostly goofy way to get movie times.

Said Russ Leatherman, one of the founders of the service and the voice behind its famous greeting, “It’s been a total blast, but if I’ve heard my last ‘Do the voice,’ that’s O.K. too.”

Source: The New York Times


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