The long-awaited debut of videogame Grand Theft Auto IV could prove to be the biggest launch in entertainment history, according to its publishers.

Take Two Interactive says the game, available for Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360, has amassed a staggering $500 million (£255 million) of sales receipts in its first week on release.

More than six million copies of GTA IV have been sold since April 29th, with amazing $310 million (£158 million) revenue earned in its first 24 hours on the shelves alone.

And according to Take Two chairman Strauss Zelnick, the game's first week on sale "represents the largest launch in the history of interactive entertainment".

"We believe these retail sales levels surpass any movie or music launch to date," he told the Hollywood Reporter.

The game broke first-day sales records in the UK, with some 609,000 copies sold according to the Entertainment Retailers Association.

And despite the controversy surrounding the game's content - which includes theft, drug-dealing and murder - it has easily smashed the previous first-week sales records set by the $300 million (£153 million) earned by Halo 3 - and the $404 million (£206 million) debut of Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End.

The game's release did not, however, seem to have a negative impact on the release of Iron Man, with the Marvel Studios movie achieving an impressive $101 million (£51 million) opening in the US, with £5.4 million earned in the UK.

"There is probably some overlap between the Iron Man movie and the Grand Theft Auto game audiences," video game analyst Billy Pidgeon told the Hollywood Reporter.

And a spokesman for Paramount Studios was quoted as saying: "It was silly to think boys wouldn't get off the couch to go see Iron Man."

08/05/2008 10:40:59