'Tomb Raider' Digs Up Box Office Riches
By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actress Angelina Jolie restored some sizzle to the North American box office as her new action-adventure ``Lara Croft: Tomb Raider'' swooped in at No. 1 with a weekend haul of $48.2 million, according to studio estimates issued on Sunday.
The Paramount Pictures film, which reportedly cost almost $100 million to make, sets a new opening record for a female star-driven vehicle, according to Rob Friedman, vice-chairman at the Viacom Inc.-owned studio.
Friedman had briefed Jolie about the film's progress on Saturday and described her reaction as ``ecstatic.''
The 26-year-old actress, who won an Academy Award last year for playing a mental patient in ``Girl, Interrupted,'' is signed on for two more ``Lara Croft'' films.
Jolie plays the title character, a sleek, sexy archeologist introduced to the world several years ago in the ``Tomb Raider'' computer game franchise developed by British firm Eidos Plc., which licensed the film rights to Paramount. The film, directed by Simon West, has Croft racing around the world to recover an ancient time travel device.
Reviews were mostly negative, but that did not deter moviegoers, about 55 percent of whom were male and 50 percent aged over 25, according to Paramount polling data.
``Lara Croft: Tomb Raider'' also ranks as the third best June opener in history and the fourth best of 2001, and it helped propel overall ticket sales sharply higher.
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