Inside Move: Showbiz, game biz make B.O. grade

Synergy clicks with auds

Call it blockbuster synergy.

Once again this summer, big pic properties helped sell big games, and vice versa. With such ties growing increasingly common, here’s a snapshot of the summer’s high-profile players and grades on their efforts:

  • Atari. Most thought the French publisher was crazy to spend $100 million making and distributing 4 million copies of “Enter the Matrix.” But now, even competitors say all 4 million units will be gone by year’s end, generating a retail box office of $200 million.

    But Atari’s “Terminator 3” game couldn’t meet a brutal production schedule to debut alongside the movie. So gamers won’t see the title until the fall.

  • LucasArts. “Star Wars Galaxies,” created with Sony Online Entertainment, quickly attracted 100,000 users, becoming the next big massively multiplayer online hit.

    The Xbox-only title “Knights of the Old Republic” debuted strongly, which should help Microsoft’s sagging console. The game is set in the Star Wars universe, but 4,000 years earlier. Its success could spawn an immense new Lucas property.

  • THQ. “Finding Nemo” sold more than 1 million units, and was THQ’s first title in a three-pic deal with Pixar/Disney.

  • VU Games. “The Hulk” was released three weeks before the movie to solid reviews. About 500,000 units sold before bad buzz on the pic itself dragged the title down.

  • Bethesda Softworks, the boutique publisher partly owned by Hollywood heavyweight attorney Ernie Del, just launched “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

    Critics loved the game but hated rampant bugs left unfixed in meeting the movie release date.