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'Spider-Man' spins into top online sales

The new "Spider-Man" movie cast a Web over movie theaters over the weekend, scaling up record-breaking online ticket sales.

The new "Spider-Man" movie cast its Web over movie theaters over the weekend, wrapping up record-breaking online ticket sales.

Fans flocked online to purchase tickets to see the film adaptation of the plight of the Marvel Comics superhero. The film's instant popularity translated into dollars, earning $114 million since its May 3 release. In the weeks leading up to the film's debut, said online ticket sales on its site grossed up to $3 million.

AOL's Moviefone declined to provide specific figures, but a company spokeswoman said the site sold "hundreds of thousands of tickets," adding that the success put "Spider-Man" into Moviefone's top five best ticket sellers of all time--alongside "Titanic", "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "Lord of the Rings" and "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.", which also declined to give detailed figures, said online ticket sales for "Spider-Man" were the "highest weekend total ever" in the company's two-year history.

While online tickets sales for "Spider-Man" mark a boon for ticket sites, the figures underscore how the Web is becoming a part of the movie experience. Sparked in part by online marketing efforts, people are going online to find information about a movie and purchase tickets, rather than risking standing in long lines at the box office.

Jupiter Media Metrix projects that this year $257 million will be spent on online movie ticket sales, representing 3 percent of the overall movie ticket market. By 2006, those figures are expected to grow to $644 million, or 7 percent of the overall market.

Stacey Herron, entertainment and media analyst at Jupiter Research, said while the figures for online ticket revenues may now appear to be "small," she said that the market is growing.

The figures "show a progression of people turning their attention to the Internet to buy their tickets in advance or the same day," Herron said. Purchasing tickets online "is not necessarily a country-wide type phenomenon right now, but going forward, I do see things moving that way."

Nielsen/NetRatings reported that received 108,000 unique visitors on the day of the film's debut, received 268,000 unique visitors, while received 84,000.