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Some critics don't like to admit it, but the most influential voice for selling theater tickets will always be word of mouth. Friends recommend a show to friends. The words and enthusiasm are immediate.

According to marketing researchers, 20 years ago in San Diego word of mouth took around four to six weeks. Theaters had longer runs back then and, even with positive reviews, had to get over that "third week hump" before houses began to fill.

Today, thanks to Facebook and Twitter and other electronic media, marketers estimate that word of mouth now takes between three and four weeks in San Diego. But since rents have become so high, most theaters of necessity have to have shorter runs, so the lag time remains about the same.

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