Superman games fly

WB, Electronic Arts ink deal

Warner Bros. has signed a super-sized deal with vidgame giant Electronic Arts to create Superman games based on the upcoming movie, animated TV programs and comicbooks about the DC Comics action hero.

The agreement takes effect beginning next year. Terms were not disclosed.

“We are extremely excited about creating a whole new look and feel for the universe of Superman characters,” said EA prexy and chief operating officer John Riccitiello, who said his company would work to ensure the games are compatible with Superman’s evolving character as the movie develops.

Warner has put the Superman movie project on the front burner after more than a decade in mothballs, but has struggled to sign a director and cast a hot, young star to wear the cape that transformed Christopher Reeve’s career.

The studio hopes to begin shooting early next year for a 2005 debut, but is still working on a script. Signing a deal with EA so early in the movie’s creation mirrors a broader trend, as studios are bringing game publishers on with enough lead time to create a good title.

But the deal covers more than the movie, however, including titles based on the Superman DC comics and animated TV shows. Deal covers all current and next-generation vidgame consoles, handheld devices and the PC.

“Whether storylines are based on film, comics or television, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, DC Comics and EA will work closely on all the creative fronts to create a seamless, truly interactive gaming experience that capitalizes on the strength of the Superman legacy,” said Warner Worldwide Consumer Products prexy Dan Romanelli.

Warner and EA are longtime partners, with EA creating the popular “Harry Potter” games of the past two Christmases, and a title based on Warner’s Looney Tunes characters.

EA also created last fall’s hot-selling games based on MGM’s James Bond franchise (“Nightfire”) and on the second “Lord of the Rings” movie from WB corporate cousin New Line.

The company is far and away the largest independent publisher in the vidgame industry.

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