When compiling a list of the best video game-to-movie adaptations, you likely wouldn’t include either of the Angelina Jolie-starring Tomb Raider movies that were released in 2001 and 2003 respectively. Admittedly, they aren’t as bad as Super Mario Bros and Wing Commander, two other badly-rated movies based on popular video games, but besides the main character, they had little in common with the Tomb Raider games on which they were based.
In 2018, Alicia Vikander took on the role of female adventurer Lara Croft in a movie inspired by the 2013 Tomb Raider game that acted as an origin story for the character. The plot was similar to the events in the game, with Lara trying to fight her way off the isolated island of Yamatai, and her costume and weapons were also faithful to those seen in that acclaimed title.
The movie garnered some good reviews but overall the critical reception was a little mixed. Vikander’s performance was praised as was the action but not every critic enjoyed the story or characterizations which some considered bland and 2-dimensional.
The movie made $275 million at the international box office, however, so the movie was a big hit, even though it didn’t break even financially. Talk of a sequel circulated for several years after the movie’s release but it eventually fell by the wayside.
So, what happened to Tomb Raider 2? Let’s take a closer look at the unmade movie.
The 2018 Tomb Raider movie
We have seen some bad video game adaptations over the years but 2018’s Tomb Raider isn’t one of them. Based on the rebooted 2013 game, the movie introduces us to a young Lara Croft (Vikander) who is trying to make ends meet while grappling with the disappearance of her father. She uncovers a puzzle that clues her in to his location and then embarks on a quest that takes her from the city of Hong Kong to a mythical island somewhere off the coast of Japan.
The movie was directed by Roar Uthaug (Troll) and featured decent action sequences and some Indiana Jones-style adventuring in some ancient tombs.
Not everybody enjoyed the movie but most people agreed that it was better than the Angelina Jolie movies that were released more than a decade earlier. A sequel was set for a 2021 release but it never made it past the planning stage. So, what went wrong?
What happened to Tomb Raider 2?
MGM, who had acquired the rights to the Tomb Raider franchise, hired Ben Wheatley to direct the movie. He seemed an odd choice to direct as he was most well-known for the experimental civil war movie A Field In England and the black comedy Sightseers, neither of which suggested he was capable of directing a blockbuster adventure movie. Of course, his next movie is The Meg 2, so somebody in Hollywood clearly thinks he has the ability to play with a large budget, but as for his Tomb Raider movie, it never came to pass.
Wheatley was signed on to direct the movie in 2019 and planned to shoot it in 2020. But then COVID-19 happened and as with a lot of other movies that were set to go ahead before the pandemic hit, his plans for the Tomb Raider sequel started to fall apart.
It wasn’t game over for the sequel just yet, however. Wheatley moved on to the aforementioned shark movie but another director was hired to take his place on Tomb Raider 2. That director was Misha Green, the showrunner and director of the now-cancelled horror series Lovecraft Country, and the writer of the recent Netflix movie The Mother.
Unfortunately, MGM lost the rights to the Tomb Raider video game series in 2022, meaning the movie was once again in limbo. Apparently, MGM asked game publisher Square Enix for an extension of the rights but they lost patience with the development of the movie and rejected their request (source).
Vikander was still interested in playing the part and in the July of 2022, she delivered this update during an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“With the MGM and Amazon buyout, I have no clue. Now it’s kind of politics. I think Misha and I have been ready, so it’s kind of in somebody else’s hands, to be honest.”
Vikander never did take on the role and Green never directed the movie. And it would appear that there are other reasons why the movie didn’t go ahead, beyond MGM losing the rights to the franchise. In a report published by The Wrap, behind-the-scenes problems were cited as reasons for the movie’s no-show such as a ballooning production budget and disagreements over the script between the lead actress and director.
What would Tomb Raider 2 have been about?
There has been no official word on the plotline for the sequel, so we can’t really say for sure. If the movie was set to follow on from 2018’s Tomb Raider, it would have continued Lara’s battle against Trinity, the group that wanted to release a deadly virus into the world in the first movie.
There’s also a chance the sequel could have been based on the next in the rebooted game franchise, Rise Of The Tomb Raider, which saw Lara travel to the lost city of Kitezh in search of a hidden treasure that can grant immortality.
Alternatively, the movie could have featured an original adventure for Lara, unrelated to the movie and the game series.
But as the movie was cancelled, we will never know what adventures were planned for the famed tomb plunderer.
Will there be another Tomb Raider movie?
Amazon has purchased the rights to the Tomb Raider franchise so we will see Lara Croft back on the screen at some point. A TV series is in the works at Amazon Studios, with a script written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who is no stranger to the world of adventuring after her recent appearance in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. A movie is reportedly in development at Amazon too, although we have no details about either project at the moment.
As to who will play Lara Croft in the series and movie, we have no idea. Who do you think should take on the role of the legendary adventurer? Let us know in the comments below.
Read More: Whatever Happened to Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider 3?
Did you enjoy the 2018 Tomb Raider movie? Were you disappointed that Tomb Raider 2 was cancelled? Let us know in the comments below.