Fandango adding UA exhibs

Ticketer also launchs 1-800 number

Online theater ticketer Fandango will add 200 United Artists theaters next week to the list of facilities it handles, and the company has launched a toll-free phone to expand customer access to its services.

Fandango now claims its customers can buy ducats either online or on the phone from 70% of the theaters nationwide set up for remote-ticketing services. All those theaters have been wired with technology that keeps up-to-the-minute track of sales both in-theater and online so that the system knows when a showing is sold-out and no more tickets are available.

UA deal, which takes effect Monday, when the chain’s existing deal with AOL Time Warner’s Moviefone service expires, marks a 30% jump in the number of theaters handled by Fandango. Service now provides ticketing for more than 850 theaters with 10,000 screens.

Terms of the UA deal were not disclosed, but the shift was hardly a surprise.

UA last year became a unit of Regal Cinemas, the country’s largest exhibitor and already one of six chains backing Fandango, as is Regal-owned Edwards Theaters. As part of the UA announcement, Regal and Edwards also extended their Fandango deals through 2009.

Separately, the ticketer launched 1-800-FANDANGO, a toll-free line that uses voice-recognition technologies to talk buyers through a purchase. To promote the service, the company will launch a national advertising campaign, including three new theater trailers, and it has revamped its Web home page.

Fandango’s other partner chains are Carmike Theaters, Century Theaters, Cinemark Theaters and Loews Cineplex Entertainment, and it also handles remote ticketing for several smaller exhibs. Nationwide, there are roughly 35,000 screens, but many have yet to be wired for remote ticketing services.

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