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Harry Potter Finale Records Boosted by Online Pre-Sales

Harry Potter Finale Records Boosted by Online Pre-Sales

While 3D boosted Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 weekend’s record box office performance, so did online pre-sales, reports Anthony D’Alessandro:

Another big winner surfacing from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2’s $168.6 million weekend: Online movie ticket providers Fandango and MovieTickets.com.  Pre-sales for the franchise finale figuratively crashed both sites as each reaped company highs: Fandango generated 19% of Deathly Hallows: Part 2’s opening weekend ($32 million) while MovieTickets saw its highest pre-sale in its 11-year history, selling twice the amount of any movie this year.  
Even more telling about the future of movie-ticket sales: 20% of Fandango’s summer revenue to date has been derived from mobile devices (from iPads to Androids).  Downloads for the company’s ticketing app currently number more than 18 million. Fandango services 60% of all U.S. screens wired for pre-sales.

New York and San Francisco, given their limited amount of movie houses, have always been prime markets for such agencies.  On any given Friday night, one would be foolish to walk into any Manhattan theater without having purchased tickets ahead of time at Fandango or MovieTickets, thus risking a latenight show or worse, a sold-out situation.  What was amazing about Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was that Fandango was selling out in remote places like Livingston, Montana,  Kenai, Alaska and Winter Park, Florida.  Why the small town biz? Kids are home for the summer, some of these locations are college towns and no one wanted to miss out on an event like Deathly Hallows: Part 2.  This past weekend alone repped the highest sales period for Fandango with 91% of its total revenue on Sunday morning still streaming from Deathly Hallows: Part 2. For Movietickets, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 outstripped the pre-sales of Pirates 4 close to sevenfold while it bested Deathly Hallows: Part 1 by as much as 38%.

It seems that, similar to GroupOn, most online movie ticket consumers are women.  Glance at Fandango’s other top opening B.O. shares and you’ll spot such femme-skewing fare as The Twilight Saga: New Moon (18% or $25.7 million), Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (17% or $21.3 million), Sex and the City (16% or $9.1 million) and Twilight (15% or $10.4 million). It appears that women pre-plan the moviegoing experience more than men.  Most of MovieTickets’ top pre-sellers are comprised of Harry Potter, repping 40% of its top 10 list, and Twilight titles. A few guy pics slip onto their list: Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith at No. 3, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King at No. 7 and The Dark Knight at No. 9.
Each agency has its strengths. Fandango sells tickets for 60% of the nation’s screens while MovieTickets also touts consumers across 17 foreign territories, i.e. U.K., Spain, Argentina and the Dominican Republic. Both firms are beholden to specific chains with the exception of some AMC Theaters which overlap: the AMC Loews movie houses belong to Fandango, while the original AMC theaters go through MovieTickets. Otherwise, Fandango handles Regal, Cinemark and Century while MovieTickets reps AMC, National Amusements, Cineplex and Marcus, all of which are co-partners in the agency’s joint venture along with Time Warner and Hollywood Media.  In August 2004, AOL Moviefone technically left the pre-sales stub business and handed its exhibitor ticketing agreements over to MovieTickets.
While Moviefone paved the way for online ticketing throughout the ‘90s, in the case of Fandango, one distribution insider exclaims that “the start of the Harry Potter franchise in 2001 helped build it into the company it is today.” 
At present, there’s no buzz yet on Captain America: The First Avenger pre-sales, however, come November, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1 should stir online and mobile action for both MovieTickets and Fandango. Prior to Deathly Hallows: Part 2 this weekend, November 2009’s New Moon was their all time-seller.

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