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''Contact'''s online fervor

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The online response to Jodie Foster’s screen romance with outer space has been out of this world. ”Contact was one of the best movies I’ve seen,” enthuses netizen Dan Heller, ”and [I] would encourage everyone to run, not walk…and see it immediately.” The unequivocal rave for this summer’s cerebral sci-fi flick is posted on Heller’s place in cyberspace (contact.earthlink.net/~ argv), along with a constellation — hundreds at last count — of adulatory home pages that erupted after the official site (http://www.contact-themovie.com) launched in June. Now the craze has surpassed even distributor Warner Bros.’ hopes. ”We’ve had no other film with this kind of activity,” says Warner New Media veep Don Buckley.

The E-mail exuberance began with a shrewd marketing ploy: Warner execs enlisted Net services EarthLink and WebChat to bust open free Net space and give guidance to HTML-savvy fans. Then the studio cashed in, plastering choice quotes from the fan postings across the movie’s newspaper ads. ”The movie has touched people,” says Buckley. And people have stayed in Contact.

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