This review originally appeared within iLounge’s iOS Gems series within the compilation article, iPhone Gems: Every Movie Finder + Trailer App, Reviewed. Additional details may be found in the original article.
Even more focused than Movies, Now Playing (Free, formerly named BoxOffice) by Cyrus Najmabadi is focused on doing two things: providing you with an easily sorted list of current theatrical movie releases, including names, ratings, run times, review scores, and release dates, plus a separate list of local theater options. It’s probably the best at the first task, and roughly tied with Movies on the second one.
What makes Now Playing unusually powerful for movies is that it automatically pulls review scores from RottenTomatoes or Metacritic, making its initial list of movies easily searchable by average overall rating—worth knowing—as well as by title or release date. The movies list is super-easy to browse for good picks, but devoid of poster-style art; this appears only when you click on a film’s title.
On that screen, you get text details, a trailer—viewable on EDGE, 3G, or Wi-Fi—and the option to e-mail listing details to someone else. Click on the list of theaters, which is sorted by distance or name, and you can call up linked addresses quickly on the device’s Map, or call via a telephone number link. Unlike Movies, you also get fully linked ticket ordering abilities via Fandango, as each of Now Playing’s showtimes is connected to an iPhone-formatted web page to place orders. Now Playing’s approach is a turnkey solution to movie finding, previewing, and ticket purchasing—precisely the sort of thing that makes the iPhone such a powerful pocket device.
On the flip side, Now Playing isn’t flashy, and it’s just not as ambitious as Movies.
It does things simply, and it works—both major positives—but we found that its list of far away theaters wasn’t as broad as Movies’, and it doesn’t try to do DVD or future releases, either. Similarly, despite the fact that it’s been localized into a wide number of different languages, there’s only theater country support for the United States; the developer notes that additional support is coming in the future. We’ll have to see how Now Playing evolves, but for right now, it’s our favorite app for finding currently playing movies in U.S. theaters.