There’s a famous quote from screenwriter William Goldman that in Hollywood no-one knows anything – which makes predicting whether a film will be a hit or not pure guesswork. It’s also why, once there’s a successful franchise, the studios are certain to continue with it, often for far too long.
There also seems to be no time limits for one to be resurrected. For example there were 14 years between Jurassic Park III and the rebooted Jurassic World in 2015 and ten years between Return of the Sith and The Force Awakens. The fact that Jurassic World took over $625 million and The Force Awakens over $2 billion meant the gambles of resurrecting them certainly paid off.
But one franchise with an even longer hiatus than these has been Tomb Raider. It was 2001 when Angelina Jolie first appeared on screen as Lara Croft alongside Hollywood royalty of the time, Jon Voight, and even Daniel Craig long before he was to don the Bond tuxedo. Then there was the 2003 sequel but it wasn’t until this year that Alicia Vikander returned as Lara with Dominic West in the Jon Voight role.
Of course, in the background throughout these years, the video game that started it all off has continued to be a big favourite going through many different variations and titles. Naturally, the popularity of these are boosted with the appearance of new films so there is obviously great interest in the gaming world about whether there may be a sequel to the movie.
Reviewers generally welcomed the fact that the 2018 film gave Lara Croft more of a backstory and context as to how she had gone from being a bike courier in London to a fearless adventurer fighting her way through the jungles of Yamatai.
But while this Croft was presented as more of rounded character than the Jolie version, the film still has just a 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Flaws that have been identified and that may lead to this low rating include so-called “plotting by numbers” and one-dimensional supporting characters. Vikander, however, has been singled out for praise for her “understated directness”.
In interviews she has definitely stated that if the opportunity arises she would be very keen to go on and develop the character further and director Roar Uthaug has also said that if there’s an audience for it there is a good chance that Croft will ride again.
And this, unfortunately, is the rub. It was estimated that it would need to gross $275 million worldwide to break even but it only managed to take $273.5 million at the box office and Warner Brothers are reputed to be lukewarm on the question of a sequel.
But times change and studios are renowned for some surprising green lights. But whether one of them will be lit for the former London bike courier turned superwoman, we’ll just have to wait and see.