Compare The Market launches new 2 for 1 cinema ticket offer called Meerkat Movies

A few weeks ago, MovieGlu reported rumours that Compare The Market were planning to replace the Orange Wednesday 2 for 1 offer.  Well, Compare The Market has today put more information on its website telling us a bit more about what’s happening – and is calling it Meerkat Movies.

Meerkat Movies logo

The new programme will be a 2 for 1 cinema ticket offer available every Tuesday and Wednesday from 3rd April.  If you buy a qualifying product from comparethemarket.com, you’ll be able to use the offer for a whole year.

Qualifying products include: Car, Bike, Van, Contents, Building, Contents and Building, Pet, Life, Landlord and Travel Insurance, Energy, Broadband, Home Phone, Digital TV, Credit Cards and Loans.

The final “Orange Wednesday” was on February 25th and was introduced in 2003 by the mobile phone company Orange which later merged with T-Mobile to become EE, Orange Wednesdays ran a campaign with selected UK cinemas where customers could claim a 2 for 1 ticket offer by sending a text message.


Thinking about going to the cinema this week?
Try MovieGlu to compare showtimes for you local cinema


Arnold Schwarzenegger with a Compare the Market MeerkatIn February, reports emerged that former “Terminator” star and California Governer, Arnold Schwarzenegger would be joining Compare the Market’s famous Meerkats in a new advertising campaign – this has yet to be confirmed.

Advertisements

Ghostbusters returning to UK cinemas for 30th anniversary re-release

Ghostbusters

If you missed Ghostbusters on the big screen when it was released in 1984, you now have a second chance! To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the entire film has been digitally re-mastered in 4K and will be shown in cinemas all over the UK on Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th October.

We’ve compiled a useful list of where it’s showing in the UK.  Visit MovieGlu and search showtimes for the above dates.

Don’t keep it to yourself, SHARE the nostalgia!   #halloween  #nostalgia

2414h3   2414h4

Ivan Reitman’s film starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis was an instant hit, and has to be one of the cult movies of the 1980s.

It was nominated for two Oscars at the 57th Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song.  When it was originally release, the film was number one at the US box office for five consecutive weeks, grossing $99.8 million.

Anyone born before the 1990s will no doubt remember the theme song “Ghostbusters,” written and performed by Ray Parker, Jr., which sparked the catchphrases “Who you gonna call?” and “I ain’t afraid of no ghost.”

To make you feel a bit more nostalgic, here’s a reminder of some more of the countless classic quotes from the movie ……

Egon Spengler: Don’t cross the streams.
Peter Venkman: Why?
Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Peter Venkman: I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, “bad”?
Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal.
Peter Venkman: Right. That’s bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

Ray Stantz: You know, it just occurred to me that we really haven’t had a successful test of this equipment.
Egon Spengler: I blame myself.
Peter Venkman: So do I.
Ray Stantz: Well, no sense in worrying about it now.
Peter Venkman: Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.

Ray Stantz: Your girlfriend lives in the corner penthouse… of Spook Central.
Peter Venkman: She’s not my girlfriend. I find her interesting because she’s a client and because she sleeps above her covers… *four feet* above her covers. She barks, she drools, she claws!

Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters, hovering above sheets

Gozer: Are you a god?
Ray Stantz: No.
Gozer: Then… DIE!
Winston Zeddemore: Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say “YES”!

Go see it next week, and let us know if it’s still as good as you remember!

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)

Google vs Business

I was particularly pleased to see the news today that Google has promised to make “significant” changes to how rivals appear in search results.  As the founder of MovieGlu, a small business about to launch as a rival to Google in the movie listings field, this is indeed good news to me personally.

They have agreed to this change in order to avoid a mutli-billion Euro fine from the European Union’s Competition Commisioner.  It will be interesting to see whether such changes extend to Google’s service in the United States and beyond, or just limited to Europe.

Google has been showing movie listings for a few years.  Take for example this search: “movie times new york”.  The first result is Google’s own listings for movies showing in New York City.

Image

Note that the first results are their own movie theater listings, followed by Google’s own news feed results.  Only then are their competitors listed – in this case nyc.com and fandango.com – results that I believe match the user’s search intent.

When such a search result is displayed, it would be hard not to click on the first links displayed, and follow through.  Yes, I will admit that it is incredibly useful to end users, but Google’s approach will be hitting its competitors hard.  It seems that Google’s own results triumph over any effort businesses put into their own Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

And movie listings aren’t the only area where Google prioritises it’s own content – they also do the same thing with Music (via links to YouTube), Restaurants and Shopping.

So any changes they can implement to give equal relevance and visibility to smaller competitors is a very welcome change.

UPDATE 06-Feb-14:  On further investigation, I discovered this statement from the US Federal Trade Commission which you can find here.   In short, the Commission found that “the introduction of Universal Search, as well as additional changes made to Google’s search algorithms – even those that may have had the effect of harming individual competitors – could be plausibly justified as innovations that improved Google’s product and the experience of its users. It therefore has chosen to close the investigation.”.  In other words, they believe there is nothing wrong in Google promoting their own content over others in this area.

UPDATE 03-July-14:  The BBC broadcast an interview on this subject of Google “downgrading” its competitors products.

Visit MovieGlu – Searching for movie showtimes made easy.

It’s all about simplicity

When the original idea for MovieGlu first came about, we wanted to make a difference.  Creating yet another website listing showtimes wasn’t enough. Plenty of businesses have done that before.

Some of the most successful businesses in recent times have been the ones who have taken old ideas, and transformed them into something new.  Think Amazon, Google, Wikipedia.  We wanted to build something people will use because it solves a problem.

  • MovieGlu believes that searching for movies and cinema showtimes online should be quicker and less frustrating than existing websites and apps
  • MovieGlu challenges the status quo by bringing a fresh approach to an old problem
  • Old fashioned newspaper-style cinema listings should become a thing of the past

But what’s the big idea I hear you ask?  Well, we’re not quite ready to reveal that yet …. there’s still a little bit more work to do.

In the meantime, let me leave you with this thought…..

“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci