- Alicia Vikander’s planned sequel to Tomb Raider was canceled after years in development, but Amazon’s reboot of the franchise as a shared universe is even riskier.
- Lara Croft’s cinematic track record has been spotty, so it would be wise for Amazon to focus on developing a strong film reboot before expanding into other media.
- While Alicia Vikander’s sequel had an easier path to success, Amazon’s plan to connect movies, TV shows, and games in a shared universe is risky, considering the failures of previous cinematic universes.
The Alicia Vikander-fronted Tomb Raider 2 was canceled after years in development, but it sounds like Amazon’s plan for a Tomb Raider franchise reboot is even riskier than a straight-ahead sequel. The original game may have been a thinly-veiled riff on the Indiana Jones franchise, but it made protagonist Lara Croft an instant video game icon. After a series of hit sequels, it was inevitable she would make the leap to the big screen. Angelina Jolie was somewhat perfect casting for Lara, though sadly her duology of films – 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and 2003’s The Cradle of Life – were only saved by her presence in them.
After 15 years away from film screens, Alicia Vikander inherited the character for 2018’s Tomb Raider movie reboot. The film received a (deservedly) mixed response, but it was a solid hit regardless, and development soon began on a sequel. Despite filmmakers like Ben Wheatley and Misha Green developing screenplays, the sequel was eventually canceled after MGM lost the rights. Simply put, they ran out of time to greenlight the film, with the property reverting to the original game companies.
Tomb Raider’s Reboot Is Part Of A Shared Universe Plan
Lara Croft fans may have been concerned it would be another decade before the character returned to theaters needn’t have worried. In January 2023, THR reported that after Amazon acquired the rights to the IP, they had a plan to create a Tomb Raider shared universe. In addition to a movie reboot, there would be a TV show – developed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge – and a new game that would all connect to each other. A new actor for Lara has yet to be announced, but far from the glum picture painted by the cancelation of Vikander’s Tomb Raider 2, it appeared the franchise’s future was bright.
Tomb Raider Is Repeating Hollywood’s Biggest Cinematic Universe Mistake
Many studios rushed to create their own cinematic universes following the success of the MCU, but most of those would-be franchises like Universal’s “Dark Universe” or Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man series quickly came to nothing. Even the ones that succeeded like the DCU have had their share of problems, so in that sense, it’s almost admirable Amazon is swimming against the tide with its Tomb Raider aims. That said, this ambitious plan risks repeating the same errors that torpedoed those other cinematic universes; chiefly, developing a bunch of projects before seeing if there’s an audience for them.
Lara is an iconic figure, but her cinematic track record has been spotty. What Amazon should be doing is focusing on developing a strong film reboot, and seeing how viewers react to it. If it goes well, then they can develop shows, video games and other pieces of media. Tom Cruise’s The Mummy was supposed to be the beginning of a slew of connected movies like Bride of Frankenstein, but once it became clear the general public didn’t even care for the first entry, those plans came undone.
Most of those failed universes felt like business plans in search of a film, and Amazon’s Tomb Raider revival needs to avoid making those same mistakes. It’s early days, of course, and the presence of a strong creative team with an eye for quality control could see this plan succeed beyond everyone’s wildest dreams. On a base level, the idea of following the same Lara through a film, a video game and a TV series could be quite cool.
Tomb Raider 2 Had An Easier Path To Success Than A Shared Universe Reboot
Time will tell if Amazon pulls it off, but in hindsight, it feels like Vikander’s sequel was worth a shot. The actor was the best part of the 2018 film, and a follow-up could have built on what worked about that outing before introducing more elements from the games. The biggest issue was that the follow-up spent so long in development hell that if it had been produced, it would have arrived over five years after the original’s release.
Still, the 2018 reboot served as an introduction to a new take on Lara Croft, and Vikander would have been able to flesh the character out even more in another entry. If nothing else, a Vikander-led Tomb Raider sequel sounds like a more straightforward take and not one burdened with the expectations of building an elaborate new franchise where each outing has to connect. Audiences quickly tired of that “cart before the house” approach that studios tried to adopt with their misfiring cinematic universes, which is something that makes Amazon’s plan all the riskier.
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