Eidos pays Lara Croft's creator pounds 3.9m bonus

THE CREATOR of Lara Croft, the character that has taken the computer games market by storm, earned a pounds 3.7m bonus last year - one of the biggest ever paid to a British executive.

Jeremy Heath-Smith, of Eidos, the company that makes the Tomb Raider computer game, earned a total of pounds 3,926,345 - up from pounds 1,858,666 in 1997 - making him by far the company's highest-paid director.

Mr Heath-Smith is the managing director of Core Design, the company that created the Tomb Raider game and which Eidos took over in 1996.

The chief executive of Eidos, Charles Cornwall, received a pounds 600,000 bonus, taking his total package to pounds 1.12m and was also awarded 215,000 share options which are currently showing a paper profit of pounds 3m.

Eidos chief operating officer, Mike McGarvey, received share options with a paper profit of pounds 2.8m based on last night's closing share price of 1990p.

According to the Eidos annual report, published yesterday, Mr Heath-Smith's bonus "reflects the enormous contribution that company has made to the results of the group".

In the past two years, Tomb Raider has sold more than 15 million copies. The latest version, Tomb Raider 3, has sold more than four million since its launch last November.

This one game accounts for 57 per cent of Eidos group profits which last year grew from pounds 19.5m to pounds 39.2m on sales up from pounds 137m to pounds 226m.

The accounts also show that Eidos is one of 25 defendants named in a $100m lawsuit filed in Kentucky by lawyers acting on behalf of the families of three school children shot dead when a fellow pupil opened fire in December, 1997. The lawsuit claims that the incident was caused by playing violent video games and watching violent films.

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