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The writing credits are in for TOMB RAIDER (now titled LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER). And they are as follows:

Story by: Sara B. Cooper, Mike Werb, Michael Colleary.

Screenplay by: Patrick Massett, John Zinman.

Adaptation by: Simon West.

Brent V. Friedman and Steven E. de Souza, who wrote early, rejected scripts, were not named. (Laeta Kalogridis, who did contribute to the script, was also not named.)

I'm not sure who Sara B. Cooper is or how she fits into this puzzle. I've never seen her name mentioned in the press and she wasn't included on any of the scripts I've read.

Mike Werb and Michael Colleary end up with story credit. I'm assuming this is because the idea of having the plot revolve around attempting to gather the three sections of something ancient and dangerous came from their script. In their screenplay it's the Shield of Achilles. In the movie it's some mumbo-jumbo about a triangle and the planets aligning.

Werb and Colleary have disowned the film and were in the press blasting Simon West and what he did to their screenplay. They were apparently thrown for a loop when they read Simon's rewrite, since he left little of their script.

Patrick Massett and John Zinman end up with screenplay credit. West hired these guys back for three additional rewrites after Werb and Colleary rewrote their initial draft. (Though he hired them back it seems they stuck to the new plot Werb and his partner dreamed up.) When that still didn't work, West started working on the script himself (despite no real screenwriting experience).

And he ends up with an "adaptation" credit, which I think is one of the most bogus credits the WGA has. It basically says, "You wrote enough that you need to be acknowledged, but we won't put your name next to 'screenplay.'"

You see "adaptation" credits every now and again -- such as when Kurt Wimmer got saddled with one on SPHERE -- but it became famous thanks to ARMAGEDDON, which gave (unfairly) adaptation credit to two writers.

TOMB RAIDER has been getting harsh reviews. Despite Roger Ebert's proclamation that this, unlike THE MUMMY RETURNS, is a true popcorn movie, critics seem to think RAIDER is a special-effects mess with a lamebrain story and zero intelligence.

I'll hold my own opinion off till I see the flick.

Every time one of these multi-writer projects come along and everyone waits to see who's going to get the credit, it makes me question WGA rules. I suppose everyone got a fair shake here. But what about guys like Jonathan Hensleigh? Who wrote all of THE ROCK and ARMAGEDDON, but gets no credit on the first, and shares credit with four guys on the latter. ARMAGEDDON is famous as a movie it took ten writers to put together. But if you look at Hensleigh's original drafts, you'll notice that every single action scene is there -- detailed and exciting. His tone stayed throughout, too, and he even wrote that hilarious "horse tranquilizer" line.

I don't know if there's a solution to the credit issue. ED WOOD screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, after getting stiffed on MARS ATTACKS!, said they were frustrated that every driver and caterer gets his or her name on the credits, but writers are left out, even if they wrote the entire movie. But crediting all screenwriters who worked on a project isn't fair either. What if a writer has to leave the project for another and someone does a quick pass to fix a scene? Should he get full credit along with the guy who toiled on the script for a year?

But then you have stories like WAG THE DOG, where director Barry Levinson was so outraged that Hillary Henkin was credited for the script, that he threatened to leave the Writers Guild.

The WAG THE DOG case is by far the most bizarre. David Mamet never read Hillary Henkin's original script (it was not a rewrite assignment) and he never read the book her screenplay was based on. No dialogue from his script was in hers. Neither were the characters. He simply wrote his own script. But not only was she credited -- she was credited above Mamet (which was why Levinson was so angry).

I guess there's no way to solve the problem. I think the way to fix it is to have greater respect for and belief in screenwriters. If producers didn't have ten writers rewrite every above-forty-million-dollar film out there, we wouldn't have so many scribes shouting for credit on any given flick.

(For the record rewrites can make classics: Steven E. deSouza's rewrite of DIE HARD, Ron Bass' rewrite of RAIN MAN, the Hill/Giler rewrite of ALIEN. It never ends, does it?)

-- Darwin Mayflower.

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