They haven't been running for more than a week, a decision that reflects the movie chain's shift away from print advertising. Actually, it's been happening in other markets for some time. An AMC spokesman explains in an email:
We are not focusing our resources [on] print advertisement(s) at this time. We continue to offer our movie times to any newspaper who wish to run them as a service to their readers. Our times are also available online at www.amctheatres.com, through our new mobile app, as well as by phone at 1-888-AMC-4FUN.
LAT spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan would only say that the theater chain has received complaints from Times readers, and that the pullback is not permanent. But she didn't elaborate. It's not surprising that the theater chains would start to eliminate the listings: They're both expensive (running every day of the year) and likely ignored by most moviegoers under 30 who seldom look at a daily paper. The question is whether other chains will follow and how badly the cutback will affect LAT ad revenues. Keep in mind that the studios have been reducing their ad buys for some time.
Here's an AP story from 2009 that lays out the trend:
Looking to cut costs, the theater chains are instead directing consumers to their Internet sites or third-party sites, like Fandango, Moviefone or Flixster, which offer those listings for free and make money from the fees they charge for selling advance tickets to movies. Many of those sites also feature film reviews and movie trailers. The effort may be gaining some traction, as U.S. Internet traffic to AMC's Web site rose 21 percent in July compared with a year ago, according to comScore Inc., while visits to Regal's Web site were up 18 percent.
Regal, based in Knoxville, Tenn., said its in-theater and online surveys found 60 percent to 80 percent of respondents saying they received their movie listings online. "So we've evaluated our newspaper strategy on a case-by-case basis and in a number of markets have eliminated our newspaper ads," spokesman Dick Westerling said, adding that in other markets Regal theaters run movie listings only on the weekends. The company has eliminated ads in such markets as San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis and Orlando, Fla. Westerling would not disclose how much Regal spends on movie listings, but he said ticket sales haven't significantly changed.
*Update 4:20: AMC has told the Times that no final decision has been made on the movie ads, according to Sullivan.