It’s the most eagerly anticipated prequel in the history of cinema, and its trailers have already been blamed for clogging up networks around the world, but the new Star Wars movie, “Episode 1: The Phantom Menace” is not driving Internet users online, according to a recent survey.
NPD Online Research surveyed 2,600 Web users and, while 70 percent plan to see the movie, only 25 percent of those planning to see the film have accessed the Web for movie updates.
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The overwhelming majority of Web users who visit Star Wars sites (85 percent) visit starwars.com, according to the survey. Other sites, such as jedinet.com, countingdown.com/starwars, and the prequel.com, while less popular, each pulled in about one-quarter of those who said they visit Star Wars sites. The countingdown.com URL had to be changed to starwars.countingdown.com in order to handle its increased traffic load.
“It is somewhat surprising that more online Phantom Menace fans are not looking on the Web for movie information,” said Pamela Smith, VP of NPD Online Research. “As the film opening nears and excitement continues to build, online traffic should increase significantly.”
The traffic to some Star Wars sites did jump significantly after the film trailers were released, Media Metrix found (see table). Both starwars.com and the Apple Computer home page had the trailer available for download.
Star Wars also has the potential to deliver an e-commerce payday. According to NPD, 29 percent of those that plan to see The Phantom Menace have bought or plan to buy merchandise related to the film. Half of these potential buyers intend to make their purchases online. Half of those planning to see the movie in theatres also plan on buying it on home video or DVD once it becomes available.
The sites that should profit the most from Star Wars-fueled e-commerce are those exclusively devoted to Star Wars merchandise. NPD found that 58 percent of the buyers expect to buy from sites such as starwarstoys.com and shop.starwars.com. Others plan to shop online at traditional e-tailers like etoys.com and toysrus.com.