"... why don't you just tell me the name of the movie you've selected..."
That's how Seinfeld's Kramer once famously volunteered to help moviegoers find theaters and showtimes using their touch tone phones in the 1990s. Moviefone, the then-ubiquitous dial-up phone service tried to adapt to the smartphone era a number of times, but Variety reports it was recently sold for the modest sum of just over $1 million dollars to a mysterious buyer.
The otherwise unidentifiable “Born In Cleveland LLC” reportedly acquired the property as part of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing of its parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics, whose properties also include MoviePass, the at-first unlimited ticket subscription service that had a brief shining moment in the sun before succumbing to an unsustainable revenue model.
A buyer is also being sought for that property.
According to Variety, the winning big of $1.075m for Moviefone was less than 1/4 of the $4.38m intellectual property value Helios and Matheson estimated as part of its bankruptcy filing. To put it in perspective, AOL acquired the service launched in 1989 for $388 million in stock in 1999 in a transaction that should be preserved in a time capsule.
AOL shut off the phone service in 2014 and tried to unsuccessfully reposition the property as an entertainment website.