MoviePass parent buys Moviefone from Verizon's Oath in $25M deal

The parent company of MoviePass hopes Moviefone will bring more movie lovers into close contact with its subscriptions.

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Joan E. Solsman
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Three audience members at a movie gasp and throw popcorn in the air from shock


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MoviePass and MovieFone are part of the same family now.

Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc., the parent company of MoviePass, bought Moviefone -- the nearly thirty-year-old service best known for providing film screening times -- from Verizon's Oath unit in a cash-and-stock takeover, the company said in a release and filing Thursday. 

Watch this: How the crazy $10-a-month MoviePass deal works

Helios and Matheson Analytics CEO Ted Farnsworth said the cash-and-stock deal was valued at about $25 million, including a $1 million cash payment. 

The idea is that Moviefone, with its screen times, trailers and other helpful film-related content, could encourage more movie lovers to subscribe to the theater-pass service, by bringing them into close contact with MoviePass.

A red graphic says "Welcome to the family Moviefone. Love, MoviePass."

MoviePass seemed eager to get on good terms with its new big brother. 

Business Wire

It's the latest move to buttress MoviePass as a go-to film app as it tries to shake up the cinema industry. Sometimes referred to as the Netflix for theaters, MoviePass lets its members into one movie screening per day with a $9.95 monthly subscription (or less). The model has unnerved some theater owners, prompting AMC, the largest movie theater chain in the US, to theaters pull out of the service in January before rejoining two weeks ago.

MoviePass has also come under pressure for tracking its users' location data (it says it doesn't track when you aren't using the app and won't sell your location information. And it's faced skepticism from some in the cinema industry for the lightning-fast rate it's burning through money

Moviefone is an interactive info service with film times, movie trailers and ticketing through Fandango, and was founded way back in 1989.

Moviefone has 6 million monthly unique visitors. In February, MoviePass said it had surpassed 2 million subscribers. 

Oath, Verizon's media focused arm created from the takeovers of Yahoo and AOL, will continue to sell Moviefone's advertising space, a paid service it's providing the new owners. Oath also took an ownership stake in MoviePass as part of the deal. 

CORRECTED at 10:35 am PT: Oath is unit of Verizon.