May the force — and the hype — be with you. Pop culture has been jammed with marketing and movie mania as Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace — a film that has been called the most anticipated in history– opened in theatres this week. But, if you’re looking for an escape, don’t go online.
The Internet has been a central front in promoting the latest installment in George Lucas’ famed space-age mythology series. From movie trailers and other forms of publicity, to ticket and souvenir sales, e-commerce has benefited from the event.
National Data Corp. (NYSE: NDC), for instance, reported a 25% online credit card volume increase at its West Coast center on the first day of advanced ticket sales. “Buying movie tickets over the Internet and at online kiosks is increasingly popular,” commented Tom Dunn, chief operating officer for NDC eCommerce. “We believe that Star Wars may have significantly impacted the trend to buy more movie tickets this way in the future.”
One Step Beyond
Beyond.com got into the game as well, handing out free copies of the Phantom Menace software game to moviegoers at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The game is one of a series of four packages produced by LucasArts, and available through the online software store. Users have the ability to assume such character identities as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Queen Amidala.
Online retail monster Amazon.Com couldn’t resist either, it seems, and opened their searchable Star Wars Store, featuring books, memorabilia, music, toys and videos. “Never before have fans had access to the entire Star Wars universe in one convenient store,” stated David Risher, senior vice president of product development for Amazon.Com.
The store also features character profiles and a link to the comprehensive Internet Movie Database, maintained by Amazon.com.
There are a dizzying number of other e-commerce sites devoted to the Star Wars series, including WCollect.com (OTC BB: WCLT) which is auctioning some 50 collectible movie posters, with starting bids ranging from $20 to $3,500 (US$).
eToys-A-Go-Go, Star Wars & an IPO
Not to be outdone, just one day after the premier of The Phantom Menace, eToys, Inc. (Nasdaq: ETYS) announced the initial public offering of its common stock on the Nasdaq National Market with 8,320,000 shares at $20 a pop. The online retailer, which focuses not only on toys, but games, music, software and videos, has opened its own Star Wars store as well, where visitors can shop ’til their hearts’ content for light sabers, books and super soakers.