Movie Clock Pissing Contest

By enzian | Enzian Theater May 12, 2009 at 9:55AM

Movie Clock Pissing Contest

Some of you (but apparently not enough) may have noticed a drastic change in the Orlando Sentinel Movie Clock page beginning last week--it's shrinking bigtime. From out of nowhere, the timeclock went from a full page in the paper to a half with a larger font and a big black message box with a "Notice to Readers: The following theaters are no longer providing movie times to the Orlando Sentinel. If you have any questions, please call AMC Theatres at ... and Regal Cinemas at ...." Now isn't that special? The two biggest theater chains in the country with at least 3/4 of the screens in Central Florida are suddenly no longer listing their cinemas or movie showtimes in the newspaper.

Calls to both AMC and Regal revealed two things: AMC had begun the process of pulling their listings out of every newspaper in the country that charged for the service weeks ago, and finally got around to the Orlando market. Regal began to follow suit after a survey of their customers said that over 90% of their filmgoers get their info on line, but said they were still sending the Sentinel the showtimes and theater info but the paper had chosen not to run them. Well obviously if they had paid for the service, then the paper would still be running the listings. And when you're the biggest theater chain in the country, even 10% of your business is an awful lot of people to piss off.

So Friday's Sentinel Calendar (Arts) section comes out and lo and behold, all of the movie listings are back. But Saturday and Sunday are even smaller than last Tuesday - Thursday, not only missing Regal and AMC again but also without Touchstar and the Colonial Promenade. It looks like the chains have put their foot down and decided there's no way they'll pay for timeclock listings any more, but the Sentinel (at least for one week anyway) published the info in the Calendar as a gesture of good faith in some rumored ongoing negotiation with Regal at least. Or perhaps it just makes sense to publish all of the movie info in the Friday Calendar section anyway to make the paper more valuable to the customer on the fence--maybe this way they sell more copies (or lose less subscribers) which helps cover the lost ad revenues from the theater chains.

For an analog person like myself who still loves to read the newspaper, this is yet another disturbing development.


This article is related to: General