MoviePass' Moviefone purchase shows the power of a business built on debit cards

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MoviePass has purchased Moviefone, the movie listing and information service, in a deal that gives momentum to a business that owes its success to honor-all-cards rules.

In January, MoviePass pulled out of 10 AMC movie theaters after a disagreement over the service, which uses a Mastercard debit card to guarantee payment through its app. But the $23 million deal for Moviefone, which launched in 1989 as a telephone movie-information service and reaches 6 million users, shows a clear momentum for the ticket-selling service.

“This investment in digital content expands MoviePass’ reach further into multiple Hollywood touchpoints. … We believe the acquisition will allow us to connect studios and brands with potential new subscribers, capture their attention and convert them into paying subscribers,” Khalid Itum, vice president of business development at the New York-based MoviePass, said in a press release.

As part of the deal, Moviefone’s owner—Oath Inc., formerly AOL—is taking an undisclosed stake in MoviePass. Oath will continue sell movie trailer ads, with the goal of expanding MoviePass’ advertising and marketing reach, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe said in the release.

Helios and Matheson Analytics, which previously owned a stake in MoviePass, acquired the remaining share of the company in February following a $45 million capital investment.

MoviePass announced in February that it had reached a milestone of 2 million subscribers.

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