Box Office: Fortune and Glory for Tomb Raider

ByABC News
June 19, 2001, 2:36 PM

June 17 -- She may not be Indiana Jones (yet), but it's plain that Lara Croft has captured the interest of more people than just the sweaty-palmed, wrist-cramped gamer geeks who know her so well. According to studio estimates compiled earlier today, the first movie to feature Eidos Interactive's enormously popular character is the nation's new No. 1 movie by a margin of nearly $30 million.

Fearing the scorn of the nation's cinematic commentators, Paramount took drastic measures to keep print and online reviews of Tomb Raider from reaching the eyes and ears of potential ticket buyers until the last possible minute. Now that an estimated $48.2 million first-weekend haul is on the books, it seems as though the strategy was entirely irrelevant.

Credit Paramount's massive marketing campaign, which flooded the airwaves with Raider previews for weeks and made savvy use of the promotional might of tag-team sponsor PepsiCo. And credit Angelina Jolie, an Oscar-winner and heretofore exceedingly minor marquee attraction, who perfectly embodied Lara's cartoonish sensuality and can probably expect to see a few extra zeros on her next paycheck.

(The 26-year-old rising star is, incidentally, presently under contract to reprise her tomb-raiding role in at least two more feature films.)

In second place, lagging far, far behind Jolie's bodacious Lara, we find Michael J. Fox's Milo Thatch, hero of the Disney animated adventure Atlantis: The Lost Empire. The undersea spectacular posted a respectable $20.4 million opening but couldn't compete with Raider, despite debuting in just 197 fewer locations.

Shrek Leapfrogs SwordfishParamount and Disney's one-two finish was widely anticipated, but the battle for third place was expected to be tight and wound up nearly too close to call. DreamWorks reported ticket sales of approximately $12.9 million for Shrek, giving the totally CGI spoof a narrow lead over the Warner Bros. thriller Swordfish ($12.2 million).

After just 31 days in theaters, Shrek's total take is hovering just north of $197 million and could climb past $200 million by midweek. Swordfish, on the other hand, finds itself within shouting distance of the $40 million mark and should rack up another $30 million or so before its run is through.