Some Facebook users have noticed a new section called "Movies" appearing in the mobile app's main navigation. The feature, which has just appeared for many U.S. Facebook users, offers a way to see which movies are playing nearby, available showtimes and a list of local theaters and their movie selections. The section is powered through an integration with Fandango's and Atom Tickets' booking services, which means you can also buy a movie ticket right from the "Movies" section itself.
This is not the first time Facebook has powered movie ticket sales, to be clear.
Last fall, it introduced a way for visitors to Facebook Pages to take various actions, like getting quotes, buying event tickets from Ticketmaster and buying movie tickets, among other things. At the time, the movie ticket sales were being made possible through a partnership with Fandango, and had begun with just a few titles in U.S. theaters, like The Magnificent Seven, Storks and others.
The interface for those movie ticket sales from Facebook Pages looks just like the one you'll see from the Facebook app's "Movies" section, currently.
That indicates this is more of an expansion of the existing relationship with Fandango, rather than something entirely new to Facebook. That is, instead of having to visit an individual movie's Facebook Page to start the purchasing process, you can just go to a single destination in the Facebook app. That makes it simpler to see all the movies playing nearby and complete your transaction.
For Fandango, its interest in working with Facebook went beyond purchasing ease, Paul Yanover, Fandango’s president, told The New York Times last fall. It was also about the ability to connect groups of friends who would go see movies together.
But for Facebook, the feature is now one of many that have launched in its main navigation in recent months, as the social network is shaping up to become a portal that offers anything you'd need online. In other words, Facebook wants to keep you in its app instead of having you turn to Google, or seek out other mobile apps to perform a task, get information, use a service, etc.
For example, the company has added features to its app's main navigation that include a way to order food delivery; a Town Hall for connecting with local, state and national government representatives; access to your daily weather and forecast; an Explore feed for finding new Facebook Pages you might like; a selection of trending news items; a way to watch the top Live videos; a QR code scanner; a Wi-Fi finder; easier access to Safety Check; a networking-focused "Discover People" section; and many other options. And that's not the complete list.
We understand that the Facebook "Movies" button is considered a test, and has been slowly expanding to users across the U.S.
That means some of you will have seen this option long before now, while others are only newly seeing it. It's very difficult to tell when Facebook actually launches new features, because of how it tests products with small audiences, then larger ones and then sometimes decides to yank the feature or make it publicly available.
Movie tickets aren't the only type of ticket that Facebook is selling these days, we should also note. Its "Marketplace" section is rolling out a "ticket sales" section, too, which allows local event hosts to promote their events inside Facebook's Craigslist-like feature.
Post updated 9/9/17, 9:30 AM ET, as an Atom Tickets integration has now gone live.