Fix Movies Dashboard widget in OS X

Apple's Movies Dashboard widget may show a "No movie data available" error instead of loading movies and showtimes. Here is one approach to dealing with this issue.

If you use Apple's Movies widget for the Dashboard you may have found that recently it stopped providing results and instead gives a "no movie data available" warning when you enter your location information.

Yesterday I covered some details of the Movie widget problem , and found that it is rooted in Apple's use of the server "wu.apple.com" to provide the movie data, which apparently is not working properly and gives a "Service Unavailable" error when accessed. This results in no data being sent to the widget.

The wu.apple.com server appears to be some sort of proxy that Apple uses to interface its Movies widget with Fandango.com, in which case bypassing the use of wu.apple.com and going directly to Fandango.com for the lookup of movie data should result in the proper download of the requested XML files. We can use this as a workaround for the widget, at least until Apple addresses the problem on its end.

TextWrangler open dialog box
In TextWrangler, enable the viewing of hidden files and then open the moviesParser.js file. Screenshot by Topher Kessler

Apple's widgets are JavaScript-based code, which means that the code is not compiled and therefore is easy to edit. Unfortunately in this case the file we need to edit has some restricted privileges and is in a hidden system folder, but it can be done by following these steps:

  1. Download TextWrangler, which is a free text editor that supports authentication for editing system files (Apple's TextEdit does not support this feature).

  2. Open TextWrangler and choose Open from the File menu.

  3. Click the "Show hidden items" option at the bottom of TextWrangler's Open window.

  4. Navigate to the /System/Library/WidgetResources/ folder and open the ".parsers" directory.

  5. Editing the JavaScript file
    Locate this line in the file and change the server URL to 'www.fandango.com.' Screenshot by Topher Kessler
  6. Open the file "moviesParser.js" and then click the pencil icon in TextWrangler's toolbar (it should have a red slash through it) to unlock the file so you can edit it.

  7. Scroll down to the function called "fetchMoviesData" and look for the text that is shown in the screenshot to the right.

  8. Change the server in the "url" variable from "wu.apple.com" to "www.fandango.com" (only change the "wu.apple.com" component of the URL, leaving the rest of it intact).

  9. Save the file (providing your administrator password when prompted), and close it.

At this point the Movies widget should load data properly from Fandango. It will only work for newly loaded instances of the widget, so if you already have activated Dashboard you'll need to log out and log back in to load the edited code.



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About the author

    Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.

     

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