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Fandango acquires Movies.com

The ticketing website hopes the generic name will give it broader reach.

June 24, 2008|Dawn C. Chmielewski | Times Staff Writer

The familiar real estate adage is as true online as it is when it comes to buying a house: It's all about location, location, location.

That helps explain why Fandango Inc., the nation's leading movie-ticketing site, on Monday acquired a similar but smaller website from Walt Disney Co. that sports an attractive address: Movies.com. Fandango hopes the acquisition of Movies.com, with its generic name, will give it broader reach for people seeking movie information online.

Fandango.com, perhaps best-known for its bag-puppets advertising campaign, sells tickets online for films at major theater chains including Edwards Theaters, Regal Cinemas and AMC Loews. Movies.com, in addition to hawking tickets online, also provides reviews, celebrity news and information about DVD releases.

The two sites will remain separate, but already users going to the Movies.com site Monday were redirected to Fandango to buy tickets, within hours of the deal's announcement. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Fandango Chief Executive Chuck Davis said he hoped the higher traffic that would result from the deal would spur advertising from movie theaters, studios and other marketers.

About 6.3 million people visited the Fandango site in May, according to Nielsen Online, making it the most popular online movie-ticket site. A third site, MovieTickets.com, owned by a consortium of theater owners, draws 3.9 million visitors. None of the services discloses sales figures.

However, online movie-ticket sales are still a niche business. Research firm JupiterResearch, which tracks online commerce, said the revenue was still too small to measure.

Others might see that as reason for concern, but "we see that as a good thing," said Amy Banse, president of Comcast Interactive Media, the digital division of Fandango's corporate parent, Philadelphia-based cable giant Comcast Corp. "We think there's a lot of room to grow."

JupiterResearch media analyst Bobby Tulsiani said people tend to buy advance movie tickets online when they fear a major film will be sold out. For example, Fandango said it accounted for 16% of the opening ticket sales three weeks ago for "Sex and the City."

"I expect online ticketing will grow as a percentage of sales, but again, it may be more for these event-type movies," Tulsiani said.

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dawn.chmielewski@latimes.com

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