Most of us know how useful IMDb is for getting information about movies, but few probably think of it as their go-to app for showtimes. However, in our experience, it’s the best app for getting to the theater. You can use it to buy tickets when you’re ready to go to the theater, as well as research films that are yet to come out.
Lookup showtimes by movie, theater, or time frame.
Add specific theaters to a list of favorites.
Create watchlists of movies you want to see.
Receive notifications when a movie on your watchlist arrives in theaters.
Read reviews from IMDb and Metacritic users.
Watch trailers for upcoming films.
Research cast, crew and trivia information about movies.
Parental guide information details scenes that may be inappropriate for children.
Where It Excels
IMDb is already a staple of movie research. If you’ve ever asked “Wait, what else is he in?” you probably used IMDb to look it up. It may even already be installed on your phone. While it’s primary purpose isn’t movie tickets (and in the past, the app wasn’t great at it), IMDb now has stellar movie listing features. You can set a list of your favorite theaters, get showtimes based on movies, theaters, or what’s available in a certain time range, and even set up notifications for movies that aren’t out yet. You can also buy tickets through the app. This service is powered by our previous recommendation Fandango, so you can get the best of both worlds.
Of course, one of IMDb’s best features is that it’s still useful when you’re not on your way to the movie theater. As Bloomberg points out, over half of all moviegoers now are frequent fans who visit the theater once a month or more, which means you’re either a superfan who’s likely to look up movie facts in between showings, or you don’t go to the movies often enough to download an entire app for it. In both cases, IMDb justifies taking up space on your phone.
Where It Falls Short
IMDb is not solely a movie showtimes app, so if you only want that one function from your app, IMDb might be a little frustrating. That being said, the “Showtimes and Tickets Near You” button is on the first screen you see when you launch the app, so it’s not exactly hard to get to what you need.
Beyond that, there’s very little that other showtime apps can do that IMDb can’t. The bigger question is if you want all those extra features. If you tend to look up actors or information about films that aren’t in theaters regularly, IMDb is going to be useful regardless of your Friday night plans. If you only care about movies once every six months or so, you might be better off with something from the competition.
There are a number of apps that can get you movie showtimes, but there’s one that you already have on your Android phone: Google. While Google’s movie listings search results used to be sub-par, the current version automatically detects your location, shows you listings for the movie you want (or whichever movies are available if you don’t specify one), and provides quick links to buy tickets with Fandango. You don’t have to install any apps beyond the one that came with your phone if you don’t want to.
If you do want a dedicated movie listing app and absolutely nothing else, Fandango (Free) is still a great choice. It jumps right into what’s playing now, you can save your favorite theaters for later, and you can buy your tickets directly from the app. Everyone else’s ticket-buying system is powered by Fandango, so why not skip the middleman? The one downside to Fandango is the company has two separate apps for phones and tablets, and the latter is updated considerably less often and uses an older version of the interface.
Movies by Flixster(Free) is also a solid option. The interface is a little less attractive, which kinda sucks when you’re dealing with such a visual-intensive medium like movies, but functionally it’s fine. You can create lists of movies you want to see, rate the ones you’ve seen, and even find films you want to watch on Netflix. It’s also the only ticket-buying service we’ve discussed that isn’t powered by Fandango, so if you don’t want to buy from Fandango for whatever reason, Flixster is probably the way to go.