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Paramount Cites Game For Weak 'Tomb Raider' Movie Sales

by Rainier on July 28, 2003 @ 4:06 p.m. PDT

The romance between Hollywood and the video game industry is suddenly a lot chillier after the studio behind "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" on Monday cited problems with a related game for the sequel's weaker-than-expected debut. The movie and video game industries have grown closer in recent years as films increasingly are tied in to games and games, in turn, are licensed as movies.

But the comments by Paramount Pictures underscore the tensions between the two sides when sales disappoint.

"The Cradle of Life," the second film based on games heroine Lara Croft, opened in fourth place at the U.S. box office last weekend with sales of $21.7 million, well below the opening weekend of 2001's "Tomb Raider."

The film, released by Viacom Inc.'s (NYSE:VIAb - News) Paramount Pictures unit, faced heavy competition, but was still weaker than most in the industry had expected.

Paramount executives blamed an over-abundance of sequels this summer, but also pointed to "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness," the latest game in the franchise from Britain's Eidos Plc (London:EID.L - News)

"The only thing we can attribute that to is that the gamers were not happy with the latest version of the 'Tomb Raider' video game, which is our core audience," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said.

A spokesman for Eidos in Great Britain said the company had no comment on Paramount's claims.

"Ultimately, the thing became a bigger film franchise than a game franchise," said one entertainment executive with ties to both the game and movie industries.

GAME SELLS WELL, SOME CRITICS NEGATIVE

The game was released in the United States on June 20 and in early July in Europe after repeated delays put it months behind schedule.

It is currently the No. 2 game across all formats in the United Kingdom, according to the European Leisure Software Publishers Association and was the No. 2 game in June in the United States across platforms, according to NPDFunworld.

But critics, at least in the United States, have bashed the game for what they said are numerous bugs that make it almost unplayable. A senior Eidos development executive, Jeremy Heath-Smith, resigned days after the game was released.

GameRankings.com, a site that tracks game reviews and averages scores into an overall ranking, showed a score of 58 percent for "Angel of Darkness" as of Monday morning, which puts it well out of the "Most Popular" list. Most top games score better than 80 percent.

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