How does it work with phone numbers in movies?

Have you ever tried calling one of the numbers shown in movies, series or books?

Personally, I have always been too much of a coward to dare to try to call the numbers that are shown or mentioned on TV. But many others are much more curious than I am and the problem of TV numbers being called has been around for a long time. Of course, the creators of various fictional dramatizations always try to choose numbers that are not used, but sometimes things goes wrong.

555-numbers in Hollywood

For those who are attentive, you can see that almost all numbers in American movies start with 555. As early as the 60s, telephone companies began to encourage filmmakers to use this number format. An early example of a film that adopted the format was the film The Second Time Around, from 196, which showed the number 555-3485.

Today, only 555-0100 to 555-0199 may be used in movies. The remaining numbers in the series are taken by companies and such. Maybe the reason the number format has become so popular is because it has been seen for so long in movies.

The most famous phone number from the movie world may very well be the number shown in the movie Ghostbusters. The film shows an advertisement where the number 555-2368 appears.

Sometimes things go wrong

As said above, filmmakers try to choose numbers that are not used, but sometimes it goes wrong anyway. An example of this is in the movie Bruce Almighty, where they show a number of a pager when Bruce has missed calls from God. The filmmakers thought they had chosen a number that was not used but had not thought of different area codes. Something that led to a lot of incorrect calls in several area codes. God’s telephone number was then changed to the video release so that a classic 555 number, which led nowhere, was displayed.

The fact that the 555 series is used in movies has also been mentioned in a movie. In the film Last action hero, the format with 555 numbers is mentioned in the film. The film is from 1993 and Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the lead role. “Danny Madigan” tries to convince Schwarzenegger’s character that he’s in a movie by pointing out that the 555-series provides a maximum of 9,999 available phone numbers, insufficient for all Los Angeles phone users.

The UK has 1000 numbers per region

In 2004, it was decided to reserve as many as 1,000 phone numbers per region in the UK. In this way, it should be realistic if someone calls a specific region. In Ireland, 02091-numbers have instead been set aside for films and series.

PTS reserves numbers in Sweden

At PTS, the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency, they have often been asked by producers and authors if there are telephone numbers that they can use without creating problems. Therefore, PTS decided to reserve a series of numbers for this very purpose.

– You want to avoid inserting phone numbers in movies and books that then happen to harm subscribers, says Bo Martinsson to DN Kultur.

It is telephone numbers from 070-174 06 05 to 070-174 06 99 that can now only be used by fictitious people. A number of fixed telephone numbers have also been reserved, however, only 4 cities in Sweden are still represented in the list.

So now you can, even in Sweden, show phone numbers with a calm mind.

By Elin Gunnarsson
Content Manager
In a time of "it must happen now" it is of the utmost importance to have the right communication solutions.

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