The Movies E3 2003 Preshow Report

This Activision game in development at Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios will have you overseeing the production of a movie from the creative process to the box office.

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After quietly showing prototypes of the game at last year's E3, Lionhead is expected to make a bigger splash with The Movies this year, with a place in Activision's E3 lineup. The latest concept from Peter Molyneux, the designer behind Black & White and Fable, will give anyone who's wondered what it's like to make a Hollywood movie not only an inside peek at the set, but also a hand in the production. This premise and an interface that lets you manage the studio from a 3D isometric perspective may make the title reminiscent of games like RollerCoaster Tycoon, and Activision clearly hopes The Movies will have the same sort of wide appeal.

The Movies will start you out in a simpler time for movies, in the silent era of the 1920s, but both movie technology and audience expectations will develop over time. As the studio head, you won't need to get involved in every detail of producing a film, but you can play a key role in selecting scripts with winning appeal, casting the right actors, and guiding the direction of the scenes so they match up with audiences' taste. You can direct scenes by adjusting sliders that control how romantic or violent the action is and watch the amusing animations that result. Long-term financial success won't be guaranteed by a few modest hits, and you'll have to watch production costs while building sets, keep temperamental stars' salaries from spiraling out of reach, and ensure that your movies don't get into a creative rut.

Only a little of The Movies has been seen in action, but the Renderware-powered visuals already display quite a bit of character. Sets can be created with several themes, including Western, sci-fi, and horror, and the game is designed to be expandable so Lionhead can make new kinds of sets and movie themes available after the game's initial release. The Movies is scheduled for release in 2004.

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