The study conducted by entertainment marketing research firm MarketCast found that of the 49 percent of moviegoers who actively research a movie after hearing about it through TV ads or word-of-mouth, seven in 10 go to the Web to get more information.
Just over half of the moviegoers surveyed used the Internet to find movie schedules and theater locations--more than all other sources combined.
More than one-third of those who rely on the Internet to research movies say it's the most influential medium in their decision to see a movie. These avid movie "Infoseekers," as the study calls them, are also four times as likely as traditional moviegoers to first hear about a movie through the Internet.
David Fleck, Google's Industry Marketing Manager, Media and Entertainment, said the research suggested a disparity between the Internet's influence on moviegoing and the amount studios spend marketing online.
In particular, he noted that 17 percent of moviegoers said the Internet was the most influential medium in deciding what film to see, while studios spent only 2.6 percent of their marketing budgets online.
One key method for Google to boost awareness for a movie is by serving ads throughout its network of affiliated AdSense sites, said Fleck. For "An Inconvenient Truth," for example, Google targeted click-to-play video ads for the Al Gore film on sites catering to three different groups within its network: independent movie fans, and environmentally and politically conscious consumers.
He noted that one-third of those who saw the film on its opening weekend heard about it first online. "Inconvenient Truth" producer Paramount Vantage, a unit of Paramount, "decided they wanted to invest more in the Internet than they have in the past," said Fleck.
Google started a movie trailers site last month and also maintains a movie search service that includes local theater information and film reviews.
For the study, MarketCast surveyed 2,100 moviegoers ages 13 to 49.