November 21, 2011, 10:28 AM

Fandango saves trees with mobile tickets

The ticket seller partners with theater chain to deliver tickets via mobile devices.

Lead Photo

A theater chain will offer mobile movie tickets to users of the ticketing service.

Online and mobile ticketing company Fandango has teamed with theater chain Regal Entertainment Group to offer mobile tickets to moviegoers at select theaters across the country. Patrons on smartphones or feature phones, the less powerful predecessor to smartphones, can use smartphone apps or Fandango’s m-commerce site to order tickets and receive a 2-D bar code in return that ticket-takers scan to allow entry into the theater.

Moviegoers using Fandango’s smartphone apps receive tickets via an MMS message. MMS, or Multimedia Service, is a form of text message that can contain images or videos. In this case the image is of a 2-D bar code, a square with a pattern that can be scanned by a reader device. Smartphone users can also opt to have the 2-D bar code stored within their app after the make the purchase. Feature phone users receive a text message with a link to a basic mobile web site page that contains the 2-D bar code image.

Regal Entertainment had to install new reader hardware in all of the theaters accepting mobile tickets. This is because conventional laser scanners can’t be used with phones; the lasers bounce off the glass of the phone screen and thus cannot read the bar code. So Regal invested in optical scanners, that can recognize images on any surface. Fandango and Regal declined to reveal the size of the investment in new scanner hardware.

Fandango’s mobile tickets work with all mobile carriers and they do not require a smartphone. There is no additional fee for using the mobile service. The program is rolling out to more than 1,000 screens in the Regal Entertainment Group circuit, including in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Honolulu, Knoxville, Lexington, KY, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

At Fandango, there has been a 73% increase in the purchase of movie tickets via mobile devices in 2011 compared with 2010. The movie ticketing company sold 19% ($32 million) of the Harry Potter finale’s domestic opening weekend box office record of $169 million, and nearly 20% of that $32 million ($6.5 million) was sold via mobile ticketing.

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