Studio Blames “Tomb Raider” Game for Weak B.O. Debut

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over‘s conquest at the box office last weekend had Paramount Pictures executives scrambling for an explanation as to why their feature, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life starring Angelina Jolie, debuted to such low figures.

The second film based on video game heroine Lara Croft opened in fourth place at the North American box office last weekend, grossing $21.7 million. That’s less than half of what its original counterpart, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, made when it opened in June 2001 with a whopping $47.7 million and went on to earn $131.1 million domestically.

Paramount said the weaker-than-expected opening is due to an overabundance of sequels this summer and also blamed the latest game in Eidos Interactive’s Tomb Raider franchise, “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.”

“The only thing we can attribute that to is that the gamers were not happy with latest version of the ‘Tomb Raider’ video game, which is our core audience,” Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen told Reuters.

After repeated delays, the latest “Tomb Raider” game was released in the United States June 20 and early July in Europe. According to NPDFunworld, it was the No. 2 game in June in the U.S. across platforms all video game platforms, including PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, Game Boy Advance and PC.

But Reuters reports although the game is selling well, many U.S. critics have condemned the game because of numerous bugs that make it virtually unusable.

“The game plays just like all the other ‘Tomb Raider’ incarnations (and its multiple ripoffs), except it looks better, and even that is a major part of the problem,” Kevin “Novelty” Rice from wrote in his July review of the game. “The result is a mess that 36-plus months of development time couldn’t flesh out.”

As of Tuesday morning, the “Tomb Raider” game scored 59 percent on the Web site, which tracks reviews and averages scores into an overall ranking. Most games on the “Most Popular” list score better than 80 percent.