April 24, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

It’s a career path that couldn’t have been more calculated if the celebrity in question were human. Lara Croft, the buxom, butt-kicking animated videogame heroine, has sold more than 6 million copies of Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider 2, and inspired more than 100 websites, a comic book, and an action figure. She even launched her own musical career with a CD single called ”Getting Naked” (which you can hear at http://www.indcat.com/lara); written by former Eurythmic Dave Stewart, it was sung by Rhona Mitra, the actress who has often appeared as the live Lara Croft. Last month, the pop-culture canonization was complete: Lara got a movie deal.

Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin (Boogie Nights) will produce the film for Paramount, which, according to the website The Croft Times (www.cubeit.com/ctimes), beat out TriStar, Fox, MGM, and Warner after seven months of wrangling and an undisclosed amount for film rights. They won’t be ready to cast the film for months, but fandom abhors a vacuum: Lara’s acolytes are filling the Net with suggestions. In a Croft Times poll, Mitra was the clear favorite, with 41 percent of the vote; runners-up Sandra Bullock and Elizabeth Hurley garnered 13 and 10 percent, respectively.

The big question remains: Will Lara triumph after moving from the arcade to the cineplex? Only if audiences are game.

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