Why searching for movie showtimes is too hard

Today I’m going to reveal what MovieGlu is all about.

I hinted in my earlier blog posts that searching for movie showtimes should be easier, and here at MovieGlu, we think that we have found a forumla to achieve this.

A short history lesson

Let’s begin though with a look back at where this all started. The first modern movie theaters began life in the early 1900s1, and grew rapidly over the following decades. Firstly they showed very short films of just a few minutes, getting longer as time passed2. However typical movie releases are usually around 90-100 minutes long.

But wait, why is length even relevant?  You know when a movie starts, and you know its duration. Yes, it’s very easy to work out when it finishes, but it does need a little bit of mental arithmetic. This becomes more important still when you’re planning an evening out, and want to make sure you get the last bus or train home in the evening.

Every major movie theater provides the start time of course, and it wasn’t long before timetables of movie showtimes started to become popular.  Individual movie theaters published their own adverts on flyers, and in newspapers and magazines. Here’s an example from 1983, from a chain called General Cinema Theatres.

ImageSome publications were even kind enough to collate all of the movies showing in their town or city into a single page.  Here’s an example from New York City in 1980:

ImageThe same approach was used in publications all over the world as movies became more popular, and more movie theaters were built.

The internet age

Then came the internet.  From the 1990s, information about movie showtimes started to appear online.  Today there are a countless websites which provide showtime information.  Fandango, Movietickets.com, Moviefone, Flixster, IMDB, and even Google are now all major players in the industry.  Image

So, what’s the big problem?

Here’s why searching for movie showtimes is too hard:

  • Internet users spend around 15 minutes per outing researching suitable movies, locations and showtimes
  • The majority of people are forced to use multiple websites / apps to find what they want
  • Existing providers of movie showtimes remain list-based
  • Many websites and apps provide a poor user experience – it needs to be easier
  • Websites are covered with too many adverts, which are not only distracting, but are generating decreasing financial returns.

To put it simply:

  • Users need a faster, simpler and more intuitive way to make their decisions.

The solution

Which brings me to MovieGlu.  Our team has been busy thinking about all of these problems, and how to solve them. This can all be summed up in one simple goal:

“Making movie showtimes easier to search”

So, here’s our plan.

1. Searching showtimes must be simple and fast

  • Users generally have one of two things in mind:
  • a) They already know what movie they want to see, and want to find the most most convenient location and time
  • b) They don’t know what they want to see, so they want to find out what’s on in their local area
  • Therefore ‘ease of use’ is our number one concern. Fast isn’t just about how quickly our servers return your search results, it’s also about how intuitive our service is, and how long it takes you to achieve your goal.

2. Everything in one place

  • There are plenty of websites and apps that provide this information, but often you have to visit multiple pages, going back-and-forth

3. Make it visual

  • This is the clever (but simple) part – see picture below
  • MovieGlu is throwing away the lists of times written as text, eg “12:00, 14:30, 16:00”, etc and borrowing an idea from TV guides – showing the start and end times as a timeline
  • (Now you know why I was talking about duration at the beginning of this post).

4. Your feedback

  • MovieGlu wants to be useful
  • We want to give you, the movie-going community, what you are looking for
  • We want you to send us your ideas, suggestions, likes and dislikes
  • We’ll review all feedback at least once per week and add the best ideas into our roadmap
  • Some will be quick to implement, others will take a bit longer – but if MovieGlu is going to be a success, it will be because of you.

5. No advertising

  • I won’t promise that this particular part of the plan will last forever (especially if we run short of money), but even if we do, I will promise that it won’t be to the detriment of your overall experience.

ImageWhat’s next

In the next few weeks, you will be able to decide yourself whether we’ve achieved our goal of making movie showtimes easier to search.

We’re currently putting the final touches on our website, and pretty soon you’ll be able to try it for yourself.

  • Right now we are looking for a small number of users to try out the service and give us some early feedback
  • We’ll take that feedback, and fix any issues before we make MovieGlu available to the general public
  • By signing up to take part in our “beta program”, you may be able to make a difference to what we hope will be the future of movie showtime search.

Sign-up now at MovieGlu.

 

Footnotes

1. History and background to Movie Theaters (Wikipedia)
2. List of longest films (Wikipedia)

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