“People always go, ‘Oh, I love Fandango,’ ” Yanover told Variety. “It’s so interesting to have that kind of emotional response to a product that’s basically functional. What came to us that ‘Oh I love Fandango’ is awfully close to ‘I love movies.’ ”
If Yanover’s unscientific polling is correct, then a company once best known for its bag puppet mascots, has over its 15-year history burrowed so far into the popular consciousness that it is now synonymous with the thrills, laughter and drama of sitting in a darkened theater.
That association gave Yanover and his team the impetus to move beyond ticketing. Over the past two years, the company has moved aggressively into creating Web series and original content that highlight everything from family films to Oscar hopefuls. Its programming slate includes the children’s movie talk show “Reel Kids”; a look at upcoming releases called “Weekend Ticket”; and “Movie3Some,” a loose-limbed take on big-screen news. Last year it bought online video service Movieclips, best known for posting memorable film moments and trailers.
“We want to build relationships around content,” says Sandro Corsaro, Fandango’s chief creative officer. “Maybe we’re selling tickets in unobtrusive ways and sometimes in more overt ways.”
In the process, Fandango has become the industry’s biggest cheerleader, helping to stoke excitement for blockbusters to come, and backing a series of “Got Milk?” style promotions for the movie business that had everyone from Slash to Evander Holyfield rhapsodizing about their favorite film experiences.
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Although some studios and staffers initially expressed reservations that the dive into content would move the company too far away from its core mission of selling tickets, they appear to have come around. “It’s another way of exciting the consumer about our films,” says Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president. “They’re able to speak to the audience directly.”
That’s not the only big shift Yanover has overseen since joining Fandango in 2012. Prior to his arrival, the ticketer was locked in a series of exclusive deals with its exhibitor partners. Yanover decided that being in as many theaters as possible was more important than edging out competitors. The move to nonexclusive deals allowed the company to expand its footprint in New England, the Midwest and the Southwest.
“It’s not that we weren’t interested in exclusivity,” Yanover explains. “It’s just that we were more interested in how to become ubiquitous. That was hard to do in a ticketing world divided by exclusive contracts.”
Since its inception, Fandango’s sphere of influence has grown rapidly, from 1,000 screens at launch to 27,000 U.S. screens today. In the future, it may move beyond just helping moviegoers reserve a seat for opening weekend.
The company has partnered with exhibitors on SuperTickets programs that combine tix with digital copies of films and other goodies. Studios are hoping there might be more opportunities for collaboration.
“It would be great to stop viewing a moviegoer just as someone who goes to a theater, and to instead see them as a customer who also rents or buys a movie,” says Megan Colligan, president of worldwide marketing and distribution for Paramount Pictures.
“We’re very fragmented in the way that we sell things,” says Colligan. “If we could find ways to make things more consolidated and streamlined that would be great. Paul and his team get that.”