Fandango, Amazon gorging on 'Hunger Games' presales
Virtual box office Fandango is already anticipating a record March for presales of the wildly popular story, opening in theaters at midnight.
Internet-savvy moviegoers are already gorging themselves on "The Hunger Games," the first cinematic installment of a young-adult fiction trilogy making its debut at 12:01 a.m. Friday at theaters across the country.
And that means fat financial gains for e-tailers like Fandango.
Online ticket sales are sky-high, according to Fandango, a dominant e-tailer of movie tickets -- to the tune of over 2,500 show times sold out across the United States. Fandango is already forecasting its strongest March ever for its virtual box office.
The flick is proving to be the third most popular title in advance ticket sales in Fandango's history, according to the service, behind "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" in second place and "Twilight: New Moon" as the highest-grossing seller before the movie's opening scenes ever rolled on the silver screen.
Those presale numbers make "The Hunger Games" the top franchise opener in Fandango's history.
"We don't usually see this kind of excitement or enthusiasm or anticipation for a film that's a first in the series," Fandango's director of public relations, Harry Medved, told CNET. "We usually see this type of ticket build-up for a sequel or a remake."
Medved added that theater managers are scrambling to add new showings, like 3 a.m. show times.
Fandango isn't the only Web merchant already cashing in on the pre-show anticipation. Stock market insight company Kapitall also points to Amazon as a chief beneficiary, especially in sales of the original series by Suzanne Collins.
Amazon is on track to sell more digital and physical copies of the three books in the first four months of 2012 than it did in all of 2011, a spokesperson told CNET.
Beyond books, Amazon and other online stores like eBay will also see related profits with the sales of action figures and other merchandise. Take, for instance, the "Hunger Games" Barbie doll that Mattel is releasing inspired by Katniss, the story's protagonist.
On Amazon, "Hunger Games" T-shirts currently are two of the top five bestsellers for clothing, and the mockingjay brooch that characters wear on their clothing is currently the site's top seller in the Toys & Games category.
In the meantime, Fandango can look forward to feeding off the film for some time. In a survey of more than 1,000 respondents, 62 percent said they were planning to watch "The Hunger Games" more than once on the big screen.
Repeat viewing may be icing on the cake for all involved, but for Fandango in particular it's proof that its online business model is becoming more popular than ever.