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Revolution’s ‘XXX’ files into Activision

Games to bow in time for pic's 2004 sequel

Only days before the vidgame biz storms into the Los Angeles Convention Center for its annual confab next week, publisher Activision has chased down interactive rights to Revolution Studios’ upcoming extreme-sports spy actioner “XXX” and its planned sequel.

As part of the deal, Santa Monica-based Activision will create “XXX” titles for vidgame consoles from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft that will bow around the time of the planned sequel in 2004. Games will feature the same characters as the pics but new action and plots.

Move is part of a new trend. Where vidgames based on films were traditionally released with the homevid of a pic and featured gameplay that mimicked the movie, new ones are being skedded with a pic’s sequel and feature original plots, locations and characters.

Game for change

For example, the next game based on the James Bond franchise will not center around “Die Another Day,” but will instead boast new villains and a plot that has nothing to do with the 20th installment of MGM’s pic franchise, skedded for a November release.

Vin Diesel starrer “XXX” is helmed by Rob Cohen and produced by Neil Moritz; the three were key members of the team behind last summer’s “The Fast and The Furious.” Revolution, which recently received film’s first cut, moved “XXX” to an Aug. 9 opening and locked up deals with the trio and screenwriter Rich Wilkes for a sequel.

Before the console games hit store shelves, Activision will release a “XXX” title on Nintendo’s handheld Game Boy Advance that bows 10 days before the pic. Created by Digital Eclipse Software for a July 30 release, game is an unusual combo title, both a side-scrolling shooter following pic’s storyline and a motorcycle stunt game.

Activision prexy-CEO Robert Kotick enthused about film excerpts he was recently shown by Moritz, saying the combination of extreme-sports action and espionage gives the game a chance to be a hit on par with “Goldeneye,” one of the biggest sellers on Nintendo’s N64 platform.

A number of real-life extreme-sports athletes who make cameos in the film are also in Activision’s library of extreme-sports games, and may appear in the “XXX” titles. Deal includes rights to Diesel’s likeness, but no deal has been made for him to provide voiceovers.

Unique treatment

The property has been treated in unusual fashion in several ways, both with the game deal and the decision to lock up a film sequel (with Diesel receiving a reported $20 million payday against 10% of the gross) before the debut. The 2-year-old Revolution expects the pic to be its biggest of the year and a long-running franchise in the making.

Activision is making a similar big bet, a move that Kotick acknowledged he initially questioned. Though Activision invests heavily in movie licenses (including “Spider-Man,” “Minority Report,” “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and “Stuart Little 2”), it typically does so only with proven properties. Having seen parts of the film, however, Activision execs said they feel increasingly justified about the deal.

Revolution was repped in the deal by Sony and the Firm’s veepee of licensing, Shab Azma, and prexy of branded entertainment David Schulte. Azma also is shopping two other Revolution pics to vidgame companies, the animated online-first comedy “Lil’ Pimp” and low-budget horror flick “Tooth Fairy.”