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Vidgames based on pics lift bottom lines

Activision brings in $680.1 mil in revenue for quarter

Hollywood licenses did well in the vidgame world over the holidays, as Activision and THQ had strong quarters fueled by movie-based games.

Activision reported record revenue in the 2004 holiday quarter, third on its fiscal calendar, driven in part by sales of its “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” title, which sold more than 1 million units. It continued to receive strong performances from the earlier released “Shrek 2” and “Spider-Man 2.”

Company reported “Spider-Man 2” sold more than 7 million units last year, making it the best selling movie adaptation of 2004; “Shrek 2” sold more than 4 million units.

Other strong-selling games include new titles in its “Tony Hawk” skateboarding and “Call of Duty” military franchises.

Activision brought in $680.1 million in revenue for the quarter, up 34% from a year ago. Net income was $97.3 million, a 24% jump.

Meanwhile, competitor THQ had an “Incredible” holiday quarter of its own, due primarily to bigger-than-expected sales for its adaptation of the Pixar film.

Selling more than 4 million units of its “The Incredibles” game, as well as more than 2 million of its “SpongeBob SquarePants Movie,” THQ beat expectations, and grew revenue 37% to $400.3 million. Net income more than doubled to $62.9 million.

Both publishers are planning follow-ups before any movie sequels materialize. New titles based on “Incredibles,” “Spider-Man” and “Shrek” will be released this year.

Analysts have noted that both publishers will have to spend more on their marketing for these titles, whereas last year they benefited tremendously from studio marketing for pics released at the same time as the games.

“These are powerful franchises, so if we deliver a high-quality game, I’m confident they’ll deliver,” noted Activision CEO Bobby Kotick.

Both publishers upped their guidance for the fiscal year ending March 31.

Activision shares closed up 1% at $24.06 before earnings were announced Monday. THQ shares surged 18% after earnings were announced last week and closed at $29.15 on Monday.

THQ and Activision have been mentioned as potential acquisition targets for media congloms looking at the vidgame biz.

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