Fandango signs deal with Southern Theaters

Pact adds 300 screens in the Southeast to ticketing service

Fandango has signed an exclusive ticketing deal with New Orleans-based regional exhib Southern Theatres, adding 300 screens in key Southeast territories — and marking just the latest takeaway from longtime rival MovieTickets.com.

Southern Theaters screens will come online with Fandango beginning today, pushing the ticketing service over 20,000 screens nationwide, 4,000 of which were acquired in 2012 alone. Founded in 2002, Southern, which had previously contracted with MovieTickets, has theaters in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.

Fandango has been steadily gaining domestic marketshare in recent years, most significantly in February when it added more than 3,000 AMC theaters that were formerly in the MovieTickets stable. MovieTickets swiftly sued AMC alleging breach of a joint venture agreement, a legal action that’s still pending.

“We’ve been the product innovator in the industry, we’ve been the leader in the space, and our partners have benefited,” Fandango EVP and general manager Rick Butler told Variety. “The result of that is that more and more exhibitors want to work with us.”

Messages left for MovieTickets were not returned Monday.

Though MovieTickets has been ceding ground in the U.S., its international presence has grown, with online ticketing for nearly 250 exhibitors available in 17 territories. Fandango, meanwhile, has been content to focus on dominating domestically, with other recent Stateside sign-ups including Bartlett Cinemas, Memphis Cinemas, Cinetopia, TriStone Cinemas and CineLux.

Both companies were founded within weeks of each other in 2000, and have been doing battle ever since. AMC co-founded MovieTickets and is still a part of its joint venture with Time Warner. Regal Entertainment Group and other partners sought to challenge it by founding Fandango, which was acquired by Comcast in April 2007.

Fandango has also made a big push into mobile ticketing (which it says now accounts for 30% of volume) and content creation, hiring Entertainment Weekly awards columnist Dave Karger.