Crichton’s new tack

Bestselling author to create Sega vidgame

HOLLYWOOD — Writer Michael Crichton is collaborating with Sega to create an original vidgame title.

“This deal has been percolating for more than a year,” said Sega of America prexy and chief operating officer Peter Moore. “A lot of people in Hollywood are now looking at the interactive medium as a better way to tell their stories.”

Crichton said, “Partnering with Sega, which has an extraordinary track record in the interactive entertainment industry, is an opportunity to create an amazing videogame from the ground up.”

Crichton is still drafting his concept, and execs declined to detail the storyline or even its genre. But sources close to the project said Crichton, the writer behind thrillers such as “Coma,” “Jurassic Park” and “The Andromeda Strain,” is developing a project with the kinds of suspense and thriller aspects of those films.

“We’re letting Michael do what Michael does best,” Moore said. “But he also recognizes this is a different medium.”

Once the game concepts have been drafted, Crichton will work with Sega’s highly regarded game-development studios in Japan to create the actual game. Crichton has had huge success in television, movies and books but little experience or success in the vidgame industry.

Hollywood calling

Moore said the company has been fielding numerous inquiries from Hollywood notables about possible collaborations.

“Michael is just the tip of the iceberg as far as who is knocking on our doors right now,” Moore said. “Many of the action-adventure directors have been inquiring about creating games with us. What I’m seeing is directors enthused about being able to tell stories in different ways than in a movie.”

They’re attracted by the boom in the vidgame biz, which last year hit $9.4 billion, exceeding domestic theatrical box office for the first time.

The business generally is expected to further blossom over the next couple of years, as the vidgame consoles sold by Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo continue to expand their household penetration.

No decision will be made for eight to 10 months on which of those platforms Sega would release the Crichton game.

There will be no quick payoff on the Crichton deal. High-quality vidgames typically take $6 million-$10 million and two to three years to make. It will be no different with Crichton’s project, Moore said, though he declined to release terms of the deal, or possible movie and TV spinoffs.

“We both are vested in the success of the franchise,” said Moore. “We’re building a top-class videogame. If that is successful, then we’ll have further discussions about other iterations of the story (in other media).”

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