Games to be original concepts, film related

This article was corrected on May 12, 2003.

John Woo is taking his action expertise to another arena: videogames.

The director and producing partner Terence Chang have launched Tiger Hill Entertainment, a new venture that will allow the duo and other Hollywood players to create original videogames – as well as own them, guaranteeing them a piece of the $10 billion gaming biz.

In a first between a filmmaker and a gamemaker, Tiger Hill has inked a multi-year first look development and publishing deal with vidgame giant Sega of America.

“John Woo’s incredible sense for action films and his deep story telling abilities combined with Sega’s innovative approach to game development will help shape the future of action-adventure games in this industry,” said Shinobu Toyoda, Sega of America’s executive veep of content strategy and business development.

Sharing game development

As part of the pact, the two companies will co-create vidgames based on original concepts Woo and his Tiger Hill team come up with, as well as films Woo has directed. Sega will also offer its own project it may want Tiger Hill to help develop.

First game from the companies is expected to be released sometime in 2004.

“Interactive entertainment has quickly become a mainstay in the entertainment industry,” said Woo, who is currently helming the thriller “Paycheck” for Paramount. “With games being cinematic by nature, it only makes sense to bridge the gap between filmmaker and game developer to deliver the ultimate action adventure gaming experience.”

Sega wouldn’t disclose financial terms of its relationship with Tiger Hill, but pact includes covering overhead and development costs. Plans exist to also adapt any properties Tiger Hill and Sega create for other forms of entertainment, such as films, TV shows, comic books and toys.

Combining talents

With technology making videogames look more like films, Sega is beginning to court Hollywood’s creative community. Last year, Sega inked a pact with writer Michael Crichton to develop an original vidgame property. It is now looking to lure more directors and writers.

“A new form of collaboration between Hollywood and the videogame industry is starting to make sense,” Toyoda said. “Putting together our talents is important. Today, games are like movies. It is only recently that people (in Hollywood) have started to pay attention to our industry. There are a number of serious discussions taking place with us. What we’re talking about today (with Tiger Hill) is a tip of the iceberg.”

Based out of Santa Monica, Tiger Hill is being headed by prexy and co-founder Brad Foxhoven and veep Lori Tilkin.

Foxhoven most recently co-founded Eruptor Entertainment, serving as chairman and CEO of the Internet entertainment company. Before that, he was prexy of comic book publisher Top Cow Prods., turning the indie into the nation’s third largest publisher. While there, he helped adapt several of the publisher’s franchises into film and TV projects, including “Witchblade” on cabler TNT and “Fathom,” set up as a feature at Fox.

Tilkin most recently was a creative exec at Woo and Chang’s film production shingle Lion Rock Prods. In addition to working on “Windtalkers,” “Mission: Impossible 2″ “Face/Off,” “Broken Arrow” and “The Corrupter,” among other pics, she also helped develop projects for the duo’s animation company Digital Rim, where she is currently co-producing “Mighty Mouse” with Nickelodeon and Paramount.

Like Sega, Tiger Hill is trying to recruit A-list directors and writers to develop gaming properties at the company.

Owning future franchises

“Tiger Hill was started because John has created a library of franchises all of his life and owns none of them,” Foxhoven said. “Tiger Hill gives him the chance to create original creations. Considering how much the game space has borrowed from John’s movies, we decided to do this. But it’s not just about John but other people that John works with and likes. Other guys that are out there who may or may not have that access to create cool new things without the burden of the studio system holding them back.”

The Endeavor Games Group along with Tom Hansen and Stewart Brookman of Hansen, Jacobson, and ICM’s Keith Boesky repped Tiger Hill in the deal.

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