Move over Tony Stark, there's a new protagonist in town and his name is Niko Bellic. In a few short hours, millions of gamers will have their hands on the hottest piece of video game real estate on the market - namely Grand Theft Auto IV. According to analysts, GTA IV could sell more than six million copies during its first week at retail, netting a whopping $400-million (U.S.) in revenue for Take Two Interactive.
This news has many of the big wigs at Paramount Pictures concerned that the game could put a damper on Iron Man's box office debut on May 2nd. In an article posted on the Canada.com, Victor Lucas, host and producer of TV's Electric Playground says that "this will be the first major release in what is considered Hollywood's summer movie period, and if there's any title that could put a dent in box office for a major movie, it's Grand Theft Auto."
But this isn't the first time Hollywood has felt uneasy as a result of a major video game launch. Last fall, Dreamworks blamed disappointing opening weekend of The Heartbreak Kid on the launch of Halo 3 for the Xbox 360. The game generated over $300 million in its first week - doubling that of Spiderman 3's $150 million opening weekend. Half a year later, at the 2008 Game Developer's Conference, Microsoft's keynote address proudly proclaimed that video games are "bigger than Movies, Music and YouTube."
Without a doubt, gaming is becoming big business. If dollars dictate consumer preferences, then it's clear that video games have become the entertainment medium of choice for the 21st century. Given this, it sure will be interesting to see how Iron Man fairs at the box office this week.