Movies widget in OS X not working

A problem accessing data from one of Apple's servers may be why the Movies widget in OS X appears to no longer work properly.

Apple's Dashboard feature in OS X provides access to JavaScript-based widgets that enable you to quickly translate text, access calculators, and look up information. One of the widgets that Apple provides will check the latest movies and showtimes from Fandango.com, but recently people have noticed the Movies widget is no longer working properly.

Instead of providing the latest showtimes, when Dashboard is activated the widget flips over and requests that you enter your location information again. When you do this, the widget will flip back again and claim that no movie data is available for the location provided.

Fandango widget information panel
When run the Movies widget will just show this error on its information panel. Screenshot by Topher Kessler

This has happened for some people in Lion, leading to the assumption that the widget must be broken in the new OS; however, people running Snow Leopard have also reported this problem.

What I found is that the way the widget appears to work is instead of accessing the Fandango site directly it looks up information on Apple's site at the server "wu.apple.com," which may be an intermediary for movie data from Fandango. It appears the "wu.apple.com" server is offline or not properly accepting connections from the widget for some reason, which is likely what's behind the lack of functionality.

Movie widget code
The widget runs the encircled function to look up movie information, which it does from the server URL which the arrow is pointing to. Screenshot by Topher Kessler

The outage may be because of changes on Apple's servers, or changes to the way Fandango provides Apple with the movie information. Either way, the data for the widget is offline and as a result it cannot be accessed.

Hopefully Apple and Fandango will address this problem so the widget will become operational again, but until then the only feasible alternative appears to be to just go to Fandango.com or another movie-lookup Web site. If you use Safari you can try adding part of the Fandango Web site to the dashboard as a separate widget, but the site's layout doesn't make this either easy or very practical. Other sites with local movie information may have a more Dashboard-friendly layout.

When accessed, the URL gives an HTTP error that the service is unavailable, when it should download an XML file containing movie information. Screenshot by Topher Kessler

To add a section of a Web site to the Dashboard, with the Web page open choose "Add to Dashboard" from the File menu, and then select the section of the site to add. Safari will automatically select sections based on the HTML code for the site, but you can then adjust the selected area manually. Click the Add button and it should show the selected portion in the Dashboard.

As for widget alternatives, Apple's Movies widget is the only one I have been able to find. Fandango does not have its own widgets and separate tools; however, there may be some programs and widgets available for more local movie services. What movie and showtime tools do you use on your Mac? Let us know below in the comments.



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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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