The service has a long and tortured history. It started as an automated phone offering in 1989, and quickly grew in popularity as an option for finding showtimes in an era when newspapers and landlines ruled. Its role in a famous Seinfeld bit spoke volumes about its influence on popular culture.
However, the growing ubiquity of internet access was not kind to Moviefone. Although it did embrace the web and mobile apps, it simply wasn’t necessary when any theater or search engine could offer similar features. It shrunk to the point where Helios & Matheson could snap it up for a total of $9 million in cash and stock. After Helios & Matheson went bankrupt, Moviefone was reportedly run by just one person. It was a classic example of a company basing its business around technology became obsolete — the surprise is simply that Moviefone has clung to life for so long.