Harry Potter and the e-Ticket
Ever bought a movie ticket on-line? If you haven't, you probably will soon thanks to Harry Potter
. (note: link is to boston.com, so the article will probably break in the next few days when the globe puts the article in it's pay per view archive. Sorry about that, and I encourage you to complain to boston.com
Like most e-commerce activities, the ability to buy movie tickets in advance has been around for a while. Movie ticket sites promised that you could get a ticket to any movie anywhere at the click of a mouse. The actual process, however, was very cumbersome for the moviegoer to use. You could actually buy tickets for only a few theatres. The web interface for purchasing tickets was non-intuitive and unreliable. And, in the end, you still had to stand in line at the box office to pick up the tickets.
Like most e-commerce activities the ease-of use and provided value has changed dramatically. For example, at Fandango
I enter part of a movie name and my zip code, select the right movie from the resulting list (it appears that there's an IMAX version of Harry Potter playing somewhere!), select the show time at my preferred theatre
and enter my credit card info and print out my ticket. Simple (other than figuring out what show time I want), and no waiting in line. Unfortunately, few have noticed the improvements, having been turned off by the original over-hype and under-performance. This appears to have changed thanks to Harry Potter.
According to the Boston Globe article, Movietickets.com sold about 500,000 tickets yesterday, and Fandango sold about 250,000. That's all before the movie even opened. The appeal - the value to the moviegoer - is very simple, especially with the blockbuster type of movie:
''I don't know very many parents who'd want to take the risk of getting to the theater with a gaggle of kids and getting turned away,'' said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations Inc. ''This phenomenon we're seeing points up the strong attraction of online ticketing when it comes to films people are afraid are going to sell out.''
When the technology solves a problem that people really have, and an event occurs that entices people to use the technology, the technology will take off.