Well, if you have one of these popular apps, it only takes a couple taps. You might be familiar with IMDb, Fandango, or Flixster — but today, we’re putting them all to the test.
Which one will be the best movie showtimes app?
All Three Side-by-Side
On the left is IMDb, the middle is Fandango, and the right is Flixster. For each, I navigated to the page for Finding Dory to see how they compared.
To me, IMDb feels too busy. There’s a timer that’s just displaying a bunch of zeros now that the movie is out, and the showtimes are hidden behind a “Get Tickets” button. Plus, you have to scroll down to see any ratings.
On Fandango, the Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango ratings are front and center, and you can see the beginning of the showtimes. Annoyingly, there is an advert for Ice Age along the top, but at least it’s a relevant for a movie goer. It also has the older Android style of having its logo in the upper left rather than a three-line menu, which shows how little attention the app has received recently.
Flixster is by far the cleanest of the apps. Information is laid out in concise white cards over a grey background, and the Rotten Tomatoes and Flixster scores are prominently laid out. At least in a direct aesthetic comparison, Flixster wins.
The IMDb app is pretty clearly made for a lot more than movies. It’s better as a general repository of movie and TV knowledge than as a showtimes app.
Upon opening the app, you’re presented with articles like “How Well Do You Know Margot Robbie?” rather than nearby theaters or box office hits.
That said, it is easy to search for and find movies, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to search by theater like in the other apps. Once you find a movie, though, you can scroll down to find the IMDb and Metascore ratings (note the lack of Rotten Tomatoes ratings).
Then you can look up nearby theaters and showtimes for the movie, but you’ll be redirected to Fandango anyway to purchase tickets if you want to get them ahead of time.
The best part of the IMDb app is the amount of information it has about movies. Look up details about the cast and crew, quotes from the movie, trivia, multiple trailers, tons of photos, and even news about the movie.
IMDb is an information app first and foremost, and then a showtimes app. If your priority is finding showtimes quick, take a look at one of the other apps in this list.
Fandango is really the undisputed champion of pre-purchased movie tickets. Both the other apps in this list rely on it for purchasing tickets. Unfortunately, its app is a little clunky.
Visually, it doesn’t look like it was ever updated to the most recent Material Design guidelines, which Google uses to create a consistent user interface across apps. It feels like an old Ice Cream Sandwich app, which, if you’re used to modern-looking apps, is a bit jarring.
When you open it, major movies and their showtimes flip automatically right across your screen. If you’re looking to see a blockbuster, Fandango will get you there quickly. But slip open the menu on the left side and you’ll find massive buttons that look as if they were designed back when smartphones screens had 3.5 inch screens instead of 5.5 inch screens.
Once you get past the aesthetics, you’ll realise that this is really an app made for buying movie tickets. Search by theater or by movie, easily browse through different days and times, and buy tickets within the app (if the theater supports Fandango). There’s some basic information like release date, ratings, and synopsis, but nothing like what you’d find in IMDb.
Annoyingly, I did encounter fullscreen adverts every once in a while, which is much more frustrating than the (relatively) unobtrusive banner ads in IMDb.
If you buy a lot of movie tickets through Fandango already, their official app could be a solid choice for getting your transaction done as fast as possible.
Flixster easily takes the design cake here. Everything looks so smooth and organized, and it gets straight to the point by opening up to the Now Playing tab under Box Office. You can swipe over to see upcoming movies or movie news too.
If you have a particular theater in mind, you can sort by theater, or you can even look up DVD options. Flixster actually allows you to sign in with a Netflix account and add things to your queue right from Flixster app.
The landing page for any movie makes it easy to get basic information, read reviews, and buy tickets (though it is powered by Fandango, so you’ll be redirected to their website).
And that’s really everything there is to Flixster. The app keeps it simple, and thankfully it’s free of ads, unlike IMDb or Fandango.