The Tomb Raider film rights are on the move again. After not making a new entry in the franchise since 2018, MGM has lost the Tomb Raider license, leading the rest of Hollywood into a bidding war for the chance at their own Lara Croft movie, reports The Wrap.
MGM’s Tomb Raider film, Tomb Raider, starred Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft and was met with tepid enthusiasm from critics and from fans of the games. The studio briefly flirted with plans for a sequel, but they never came to fruition — at least, not before the May deadline by which MGM had to greenlight a movie in order to retain control of the rights, according to The Wrap. One likely factor in a sequel not happening is that in March, Amazon closed its purchase of MGM, and the new owner is presumably reexamining many of the studio’s existing projects and franchises.
Tomb Raider has had a somewhat rocky history on the big screen. The first, and most successful, adaptation was released in 2001 and starred Angelina Jolie. That movie, called Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, made $131 million at the U.S. box office, nearly double what each subsequent movie would pull in. Jolie made a sequel called Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life in 2003, but it was relatively disappointing.
MGM’s effort actually managed to make about the same dollar amount globally as Jolie’s first adventure. But given 17 intervening years of inflation, and the lowest domestic box office performance of the three films, it seems that it wasn’t enough to get a sequel started.
Despite the less-than-stellar returns of the last two movies, the draw of the instantly recognizable IP and the success of the original film are probably enough to keep plenty of studios and streaming services vying for the rights for the Tomb Raider franchise.
One interesting note about these rights is that they only apply to a film version of Tomb Raider. The television rights seem to be part of a different deal, which helps explain why Netflix still has a Tomb Raider animated series in the works.