NEWS - Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Two ’Lord Of The Rings’ Planned

Competing "Lord of the Rings" Games to Do Battle in the Fall LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Soon after Kenneth Cron became head of Vivendi Universal Games Inc. last year, he was faced with a career-defining decision -- whether to spend millions to develop games based on J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novels. Cron knew that New Line Cinema would release the movie "The Lord of the Rings" later that year and that some other company would get the rights to games based on the film. "The story line was great," Cron said. "What we weren't sure about is how the movie was going to do." There were risks. If the movie was a hit, the game based on the film could surpass Vivendi Universal's game based on the books. If the movie tanked, the bad buzz could hurt Vivendi's game. Screening the 1978 animated version by Ralph Bakshi helped convince him to go ahead. Vivendi Universal gave industry insiders a first look at the result, "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles this week. Electronic Arts is showing its own "The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers" game, which is tied to the second film in New Line's triology. Both games will be released this fall, about the time the film hits theaters. The first movie took in more than $400 million at the box office. Both the Electronic Arts and the Vivendi Universal games trace the perilous journey of Frodo Baggins to destroy a golden ring with magical powers. Because the Vivendi license gives the company access to all of Tolkien's books, their games will have more characters and place them in settings other than those featured in the films.

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