The Future of Movie-Going in One Free App?

These days, if it’s not convenient, it’s not happening. That reality has taken a toll on movie theaters across the country – who report a whopping 5.5 billion seats go empty each year. But what if you could coordinate a movie night out with friends and skip concession stand lines with the click of a button? That’s where Atom Tickets comes in.

The recently-launched smartphone app is a social network for movie-going, and it just might be Hollywood’s ticket to revival.

“This is really a story of media meeting Silicon Valley,” Atom Tickets Co-Founder and Chairman Matthew Bakal told the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. “Our goal was to fill those empty seats with a better consumer product—one that was more convenient, that was mobile, that was social.”

In 2014, Bakal partnered with Ameesh Paleja, a former Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) executive, to develop an app that would help get more people to the movies.

Atom Tickets allows users to identify which movies friends are interested in seeing, coordinate movie trips with friends by sending invites, pick show times, buy tickets and pre-order snacks and drinks.

Bakal and Paleja first tested Atom Tickets in small towns in Ohio and Tennessee before launching in larger markets like Los Angeles, San Diego, Nashville and Atlanta.

Paleja said customer response has been “very positive,” and “growth and sales have been going well.”

While currently only available for AMC (NYSE:AMC) theaters and Regal Cinemas (NYSE:RGC), Bakal and Paleja said they are now partnering with theaters across the country to bring convenience to more customers nationwide. They hope the group-buying technology will hit home with younger generations.

“One of the big things we’re going to be doing is building a great recommendations platform so that if we know that you like particular types of movies, or your friends are interested in particular types of movies, we’re going to do a great job of putting you together with the content that you’re going to love with the people that you want to go with,” Paleja told Bartiromo.

With competition from an increasing number of entertainment options at home, box office sales have been less than stellar. But Bakal pointed out that 1.5 billion tickets are still sold in the U.S. and Canada each year. He said he hopes to become the Uber and Lyft of movie-going.

“It’s a social experience,” Bakal said. “It’s one of the great American experiences. People love going to the movies.”

Customers who download the app get their first movie ticket free.