'Passion' Boosts Traffic at Movie Sites

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Moviegoers displayed their devotion to Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" by rushing to movie sites in the week ending Feb. 22, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

Unique visitors to fandango.com climbed 79 percent to 680,000 for the week ending Feb. 22 from 380,000 in the week ending Feb. 15. MovieTickets.com saw a 32 percent rise to 400,000 unique visitors. Yahoo Movies increased 28 percent to 2.065 million from 1.611 million.

Also, MSN Entertainment saw a 17 percent jump in unique visitors to 2.808 million in the week ending Feb. 22 versus 2.406 million in the prior week. And traffic to Moviefone was 10 percent higher at 1.267 million for the week to Feb. 22, up from 1.148 million in the previous seven days.

"With group sales accounting for an unusually large share of early screenings and a late addition of almost 2,000 screens, movie fans anxious to see "The Passion of the Christ" have had to be especially vigilant about searching online for the details and buying their tickets ahead of time," Greg Bloom, senior Internet analyst at Nielsen//NetRatings in New York, said in a statement.

Nielsen//NetRatings did not mention what effect the Academy Awards on Feb. 29 could have had on traffic to general movie and entertainment sites.

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