I recently made a Flash arcade site that has been quite a bit more successful than I expected. I also made a word unscrambler site that has been doing pretty well. So I thought, if I can make these sites and earn money off of them even when the market is already flooded with similar sites, then why not make a movie showtime listings website?
The first step was to find some data. I was planning on using Ignyte Software’s free movie API, but that recently stopped working. Bummer.
I decided maybe I’d use isnoop.net’s movie RSS feed, but they got shut down by Google.
After reading online, I discovered that the big companies that collect theater data can’t copyright their data (because it is a collection of facts) and so it is legal to screen scrape and display the data elsewhere, but I hate screen scraping other sites (because I hate it when people screen scrape me) and it doesn’t matter whether it is legal or not, Google can still sue me into oblivion for doing it.
So my last option was to purchase the data. This took a lot of work to figure out who even sells the data. After some digging, I found that there are 2 companies in the US that sell theater showtime listings: West World Media and Tribune Company.
Both offer a data feed that you can download that includes all the showtime listings for the US. Both want $1500/month for this privilege. That is the minimum, the pricing scales based on usage.
Both offer an API you can call to get listings just for a specific zip code. While this is cheaper (around $500/month if I remember correctly), you also have to pay for each query and you can only search by zip code.
So the end result? No theater showtime listings website. Wayyy too much money. If you happen to be rich and can drop $1500/month for such a thing, I’d recommend West World Media. You get way more for your money (including movie reviews), and they just seemed to have their act together better than Tribune.