July 12, 2002 4:30 PM PDT

Ticket sites see gold in 'Austin Powers'

Online ticket sites are getting groovy, offering tickets to the new Austin Powers movie two weeks before it opens.

Fandango began selling tickets for "Austin Powers in Goldmember" on Thursday night. Likewise, rival sites MovieTickets.com and Moviefone began offering tickets in recent days.

"Goldmember" is one of eight to 10 movies that Fandango has focused on acquiring and offering advanced tickets for this year, said company spokeswoman Sallie Green.

"There's definitely a fan base out there that's looking to make sure they are the first to get tickets (to these movies)" Green said. "We see people buying tickets (to them) from the moment they go on sale."

Green declined to say how many tickets Fandango has sold for "Goldmember" so far.

Representatives for Moviefone and MovieTickets.com did not return calls seeking comment.

Earlier this year, online ticket sites saw success selling advanced seats for "Spiderman" and "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones," selling out initial shows across the country in part because of Internet sales. Last fall, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" also was a big hit with online ticket buyers.

Despite their growing popularity, online ticket sites have not been without their problems. A number of "Star Wars" fans showed up a day early for "Attack of the Clones" after buying their tickets online. Although they showed up on the date stated on the tickets, the shows they bought tickets for were actually for the following night, a mix-up resulting from how the legacy ticketing systems in place at most theaters treat midnight shows.

"Goldmember" is slated to open on July 25 and Fandango already has show times for the movie at about 200 theaters, Green said. That's about half of the total theaters Fandango expects to have show times for by the time it opens, she said.

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