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Post movie listings are "reinstated"

By Andy Alexander

A long-running battle between The Post and theater operators over paid movie listings appears to be over, with the theaters getting their way.

During the standoff, The Post had insisted the theaters must continue to pay to list movies and showtimes in the newspaper’s daily Movie Directory. But The Post has now decided to provide the listings free, as a public service.

Kris Coratti, The Post’s director of communications, said the full listings were “reinstated” this week because “they are a significant reader service.”

The result is a sizable loss of advertising revenue for The Post. Officials declined to say how much.

The listings will continue to appear in The Post’s Going Out Guide, which carried them during the standoff. The Post receives these local listings from an outside vendor.

AMC Theatres, which runs more than a dozen local theaters among the roughly 300 it operates throughout the United States and four other countries, had stopped paying for the newspaper listings last summer. A company spokesman at the time said the decision was partly for budgetary reasons, but also because patrons are increasingly turning to online and mobile sources for movie times and locations.

But recently the other major theater operator, Regal Entertainment Group, decided it would no longer continue to pay for listings in the newspaper Movie Directory.

AMC and Regal, which also operates more than a dozen local theaters, account for the vast majority of listings in the Washington area. With neither paying for newspaper listings, The Post felt it had little choice but to cave.

Without AMC and Regal, the Movie Directory’s value was greatly diminished, giving readers one less reason to purchase the newspaper. But losing the listings also made The Post a less attractive advertising vehicle for movie studios, which like to have their expensive display ads located near a robust Movie Directory so that readers can quickly check times and locations.

“The Movie Directory is, of course, a value to readers for obvious reasons,” said Kenneth R. Babby, The Post’s vice president for advertising. “But it’s also of value as a result of what we call our ‘display movie business.’”

“At the end of the day, we have to provide that service to our readers,” he said. “And our studio advertisers need the directory there, as well.”

Babby said the Post is “still evaluating” how to handle the other theater operators who have been paying for listings in the Movie Directory. He declined to elaborate, except to say: “Our intention is to have a complete directory.”

The Movie Directory, which runs in the Style section, was greatly expanded beginning Monday, when AMC listings returned. There was no interruption in Regal listings because of The Post’s decision to continue running them at no charge.

Justin Scott, a spokesman for Kansas City-based AMC Entertainment, Inc., said "we're obviously pleased that The Post is going to offer our showtimes and movie titles as editorial content because readers are going to appreciate that they can find it in the publication." A call for comment to Knoxville-based Regal Entertainment Group was not returned.

Many other newspapers have preceded The Post in deciding to run local movie listings free of charge. Patrons, especially younger ones, increasingly have been getting them online.

By Andy Alexander  | December 8, 2009; 11:34 AM ET
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I haven't looked at a newspaper movie ad in years. Fandango rocks.

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | December 8, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

A pox on both of those greedy corporate raiders. Their theraters are overpriced and have a tendancy to suck. I really wish some of the idependants around here coudl get the nice 3-D technology as that's the only advantage AMC and Regal have. I'll be doing my bets to take my money to the theaters that care about me as a customer.

Sadly, AMC still wosn the Uptown, so I may not have a choice. Bloody consolidation.

Posted by: EricS2 | December 8, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Yep, keep on ignoring the Elephant in the room...the Post keeps sinking as it continues to spike real news stories.

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | December 8, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Given that theatres charge $10 for entry and a jumbo-loan is required for popcorn and snacks, I think the theatres should be required to pay the Post for advertising! Maybe they could pay in-kind with barrels of popcorn which they seem to think is worth its weight in gold(en) butter like flavoring.

Posted by: mickey_mericle | December 9, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Going to a theater can be fun, but I do it less and less now. With TV's getting bigger and cheaper, I can get the same experience at home. Without the mark-up.

Posted by: gth1 | December 10, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I was glad to see the full movie listings restored to the paper last week. For those of us who live in the District, leaving AMC out seriously diminished the value of the movie directory- the only mainstream-film multiplex being listed was Gallery Place. I just wonder if this move is being made too late; people who used to look in the Post for showtimes may now be in the habit of having to go online.

I'm curious how the Post chooses which theatres will be included. I noticed that the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse isn't in there, although I know it used to be. Do theatres need to be showing new releases to be included?

Posted by: leathersjames | December 15, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

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