SAN FRANCISCO (03/07/2000) - As you drive to the theater to see that new flick, you can almost hear the Dolby SurroundSound booming in your ears and taste the buttered popcorn. But after you park and approach the ticket window, you see the detestable "Sold Out" sign at your movie of choice. And the next showing isn't for three hours. Can the Web help?
Well, America Online Inc. and Moviefone Inc. plan to restore some control and take away the angst of your movie-going experience.
A new program, which will initially launch through United Artists Theatres early this summer, will let you buy tickets online from Moviefone's site. You can search for theaters and show times through several search methods. You can punch in your Zip code; browse through the pulldown menu for showings by category, theater, title, or star; even simply pick a state.
Then you enter the number of tickets you want, your credit card information, and the Zip code of the credit card billing address. The service isn't free, though: Moviefone typically levies a 75 cents to $1.50 charge on each ticket, as it does now with its telephone service.
Once you pay for your ticket, you can print a bar-coded ticket using your home PC and printer. When you arrive at the theater, the attendant will scan your bar-coded ticket.
More theater chains will partner with AOL Moviefone over the course of the year, according to a company spokesperson.
If you don't have a printer or would rather pay by phone, you can still pick up your tickets at automated machines in theater lobbies. Moviefone also plans to offer the new home-printing option for its 777-FILM telephone service.