Fandango punches Movies.com ticket

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Disney has sold its entertainment news Web site Movies.com for an undisclosed price to Fandango, the online ticketing service owned by Comcast.

The transaction marks the first time Fandango, which launched eight years ago, has made an acquisition, CEO Chuck Davis said.

Movies.com, under the name MrShowbiz.com, was one of the Internet's earliest sites dedicated to dispensing news and information about the film industry.

After it morphed into Movies.com, Disney partnered with Fox to turn it into an Internet movies-on-demand service akin to Movielink or CinemaNow, though that effort never got past the planning stages.

Nowadays, Movies.com provides movie reviews, trailers, celebrity news and more. On Nielsen//NetRatings' list of the most popular Internet destinations for online movies and videos, Movies.com ranks No. 25 with 1.9 million unique visitors in May.

Fandango is No. 9 on that list with 6.3 million unique visitors, and Fandango's competition, MovieTickets.com, is No. 17 on the list with 3.9 million.

Movies.com, in fact, used to steer those looking to purchase tickets to MovieTickets.com, though it will now use Fandango exclusively for that service.

While Fandango offers many of the same features as Movies.com, Davis said there is not a lot of overlap in their audiences.

"We'll be able to leverage our combined assets to offer millions of new moviegoers the best movie-related information available on the Web," he said.

Movies.com earns revenue through online ads, while Fandango's revenue comes about half from ads and half from charging a fee of about $1 per ticket it sells.

That Disney was willing to shed the asset should come as no surprise given CEO Bob Iger's strategy to focus on its Disney, ABC and ESPN brands.

Disney said a dozen of its Disney Internet Group employees will be reassigned because of the sale and no layoffs are expected.

Comcast purchased Fandango a year ago for about $200 million. While Fandango usually doesn't disclose how many tickets it sells, it recently broke protocol by saying that it had sold 1 million tickets to "Sex and the City" for its opening weekend. (partialdiff)
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