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Star Wars smashes Fandango mobile ticketing sales record

The Force was with mobile movie tickets this past weekend, with one in three tickets to Star Wars: The Force Awakens purchased via smartphones or desktops, reveals Fandango.

The movie ticket retailer saw a staggering growth in mobile sales with the release of the seventh episode of the Star Wars series, breaking records with the largest amount of smartphone-enabled tickets sold for any film. Approximately one out of every three tickets sold in the United States stemmed from a mobile or online channel, proving the ticketing industry’s gradual shift to digital-only platforms.

“We are a mobile-first company, as Fandango now regularly sells more than half of its movie tickets on mobile and connected devices,” said Adam Rockmore, chief marketing officer of Fandango, Los Angeles. “We are seeing more and more fans using Fandango’s mobile site and apps to plan their movie outings and guarantee their seats.”

Mobile ticketing awakens
Fandango, which sold 37 percent of The Force Awakens’ opening weekend sales, has been enjoying a fruitful year, with a 70 percent year-over-year surge in ticket sales. The company has discovered that many consumers are choosing to leverage mobile channels to make purchases, as well as access features such as reserved seating.

Customers who buy via mobile may opt to print out their tickets ahead of showtime, or simply use a paperless ticket. To gain entry, they can hand their smartphone over for a theater employee to scan the bar code.

Tickets are able to be purchased via Fandango’s application or mobile site.

The newest Star Wars movie, which opened to a record-breaking debut of $247 million in its first weekend, holds the top spot for the highest amount of mobile tickets sold for any film. Passionate Star Wars fans likely purchased tickets via their personal devices weeks in advance, perhaps spurred by mounting social media buzz or encouragement from friends.

Others may have gotten inspired to purchase impromptu tickets during opening weekend after hearing of the positive reviews the movie received.

One out of three Star Wars tickets stemmed from Fandango’s online or mobile channels, highlighting how the film industry is leaning more and more toward digital platforms. Video streaming is at an all-time high, with many on-the-go mobile users seeking to watch the latest films and television programs on their personal devices via services such as Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix.

However, the nostalgia and excitement related to seeing a Star Wars movie on the big screen undoubtedly propelled many moviegoers to visit their local theater.

Fandango is expecting another surge in mobile ticket sales this week, as fans are likely to attend showings with their family members after holiday get-togethers, or see the film for a second time.

Mobile-sensitive advertising
A plethora of brands have been introducing advertising tie-ins to The Force Awakens, another strategy that played a critical role for the record-breaking debut.

Verizon Wireless charged up excitement for the newest Star Wars film installment by encouraging Twitter users to visit a mobile-optimized microsite where they could create fan theories and post them to social media for a chance to win movie tickets (see story).

Meanwhile, Kohl’s promoted its unique Star Wars collection through a social media sweepstakes in an effort to build its following on Twitter by encouraging users to retweet content (see story).

Its recent mobile sales will likely cement Fandango as the go-to ticket-buying platform for smartphone users, particularly as it expands its digital footprint.

This past September, Fandango brought one of Brazil’s largest online movie ticketing services to its mobile app to gain greater traction within the Latin America film market (see story).

“With ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ Fandango sold its largest number of mobile tickets for any movie, with many consumers purchasing tickets in advance as well as buying on-the-go,” Mr. Rockmore said. “We knew it would be big — based on our record-breaking pre-sales and predictive performance modeling.

“But we were surprised to see the film eclipsing our all-time ticket-selling record, even before it was released.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York