Film listing service MovieFone just sold for a paltry $1 million in Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings for owner Helios & Matheson, the company behind the MoviePass clusterfuck, Deadline reported on Friday.
That was the best of six bids for the service, which was founded in 1989 as a phone line that users could dial into for information on upcoming films and thrived through the 90s. AOL shelled out $388 million for MovieFone in 1999 before MovieTickets.com bought its online service division in 2004. It was eventually relaunched by Helios & Matheson following a $9 million deal with Verizon’s Oath division (Verizon bought AOL in 2015 in another questionable deal).
Helios & Matheson is better known as of late for its stewardship of MoviePass, the discount ticket service that burned through hundreds of millions of dollars in what was essentially an attempt to build a massive userbase and force theater chains to cut deals with them. That company could be charitably described as catastrophic, as it entered a death spiral in 2017 when it rolled out a $10 a month, one movie a day package that dragged on for far too long. By the time the grift finally gave out in 2019, MoviePass had reportedly faced a fraud investigation, de-listed popular films, re-enrolled former customers without their consent, and helped finance Gotti, a John Travolta flick that has a zero percent critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed $4.1 million on a $10 million budget.
Helios & Matheson finally filed for bankruptcy in New York in January 2020, saying it had a market value of just $7 million, assets of $396.5 million, and debts of $276.8 million. Its entire board of directors offered their resignations alongside the papers. MovieFone’s new owners are Born In Cleveland LLC, according to Deadline. If you’d like to know more about the future of Moviefone, press 1.