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Tomb Raider 2 - Will It Ever Happen?

"Tomb Raider" was one of the hottest video game series of the 1990s, centering on Lara Croft, a relic-hunting adventurer with a pair of big guns. Soon, Hollywood came calling, producing two films starring Angelina Jolie, and while neither is very well-regarded, there's definitely a lot to love about them. So in 2018, Hollywood decided to try again with a darker, grittier reboot, casting "Ex Machina" star and Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander in the title role.

Based mostly on the reboot of the video game from 2016, "Tomb Raider" saw Vikander's new version on the character setting out to discover what happened to her missing father (Dominic West). It leads her on an incredible journey across the world, where she faces off against a fellow archeologist (Walton Goggins) while discovering a clandestine organization called Trinity, which may be involved in her father's disappearance. 

Since the movie was released, fans have been wondering when we could see Alicia Vikander back on the big screen climbing cliffs, raiding lost tombs, and taking down the baddies. The prospect of a sequel has been much talked-about, and more than one attempt has been made, but we're all still left with nothing to show for it. Well, grab your bow and arrow, roll up your map, and don't forget the first aid kit because we're going on a quest to explore the question of whether a sequel to "Tomb Raider" will ever happen.

Why isn't a Tomb Raider sequel happening yet?

The first film adaptation of the "Tomb Raider" franchise was Angelina Jolie's 2001 adventure flick. It earned a healthy $273 million at the box office, a solid take for a turn-of-the-millennium action movie and enough to get a sequel quickly greenlit. In 2018, the baton was passed to Alicia Vikander's "Tomb Raider" reboot, and it earned almost the exact same amount, yet there's been no follow-up since. But the reason why is more complicated than ticket sales.

A sequel was in the works for a 2021 release, but it quickly hit a snag with the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, just as things were apparently ramping up. Star Alicia Vikander was repeatedly asked about the sequel, and in a chat with Collider in 2021, she seemed unsure if it was still going to happen. "Pre-COVID, I would've said yes. And now I think it's a yes still. It's not greenlit, but the script is in the making. And I think everyone is excited, and I would love to revisit Lara again."

Those delays may have cost them a sequel because in 2022, Amazon acquired MGM, which forced the franchise into a complicated legal limbo, and the rights lapsed. "There was a pre-negotiated ticking clock that had been agreed to," an anonymous studio source told The Wrap, "and there was no way to rescue it in time. [MGM] asked the rights holders for more time, but their patience had run out." 

What has Alicia Vikander said about a Tomb Raider sequel?

Even though "Tomb Raider" met with decidedly mixed reviews upon its release, it has achieved a mild cult status with fans who would love to see Alicia Vikander back as Lara Croft in a second movie. And it seems the filmmakers and its cast would love nothing more than to reunite for another go. In 2021, "Lovecraft Country" creator Misha Green signed up to write and direct a sequel, and Alicia Vikander seemed particularly pumped about the prospect of working with her.

"I hope we go and make another movie," she told Entertainment Weekly in 2021. "Because of the pandemic, we had plans of shooting this film, and now it's been one and a half years, but Misha Green is on board, and she's writing a draft right now." Ever hopeful, Vikander seemed ready to strap on the guns and get back to adventuring. "It would be so amazing if we get to go and do this very big-ass film together, going to kick some ass in front of the camera and behind the camera."

A year later, though, Vikander's tone shifted, and she cautioned that the odds were stacked against them. "I'm good at going back to that role, and it would mean a lot of training," Vikander said in an interview with MovieZine in 2022. "Now it's a lot of talk considering that Amazon has bought MGM, and after the pandemic there is so much politics, so right now I actually do not really know what is happening."

Who would star in a Tomb Raider sequel?

If there's going to be a "Tomb Raider" sequel, it would of course have to star Alicia Vikander, who played Lara Croft in the film. In 2019, with a sequel in early development, there wasn't actually concrete word on whether Vikander would reprise the role, with People reporting that it was still "unclear" whether she'd be back. But that question was answered when the actress officially signed up, and she began speaking about the sequel publicly. Sadly, most of her comments were regarding its long delay.

"The plan was for us to start making one this year," she told Good Morning America in October 2020. "Of course, due to the [COVID] situation, that's now very different." But she was still excited for the day when it would finally kick off. "We're still in discussions about it, so I hope we can probably get to it next year."

Beyond Vikander, there isn't much known about who else from the cast might've reappeared in this proposed sequel, though an unverified report in 2020 did suggest that Kristen Scott Thomas would return and that she'd have a much meatier role. The actress had played a smaller part as Ana Miller, Lara's mentor and a colleague of her father, in the 2018 film. Ana is a bigger bad in the video games, and according to the rumor, she would have been bumped up to the main villain for the sequel, which had been teased at the close of the first film.

Who would write and direct a Tomb Raider sequel?

"Tomb Raider" was helmed in 2018 by a relatively unknown Norwegian filmmaker named Roar Uthaug, who a few years later directed the cult hit "Troll." As for who wrote the script, the action film was penned by Geneva Robertson-Dworet in her feature film debut, alongside co-writers Evan Daugherty and Alastair Siddons. Robertson-Dworet went on to work on "Captain Marvel," but neither she nor Uthaug were expected to return for the second "Tomb Raider" film after it began development. Instead, writer Amy Jump was signed in 2019 to pen the second film, and Ben Wheatley inked a deal to sit in the director's chair. 

But as the delays on the film began to pile up, the studio made significant changes to the crew behind the camera, which saw both Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley dismissed from the project. Replacing them was writer Misha Green, who was announced to both write and direct the sequel in 2021, though no reason was given as to the swap in filmmakers. Nevertheless, Green got right to work, and by May, she was telling her following on Twitter that the first draft of the script was complete but that there was "still a long journey to production."

"Long" was putting it mildly, as production never did commence. Now, with the film scrapped and a new version planned (but more on that later), if there ever is going to be a sequel, it may need a new script and a new director.

A sequel to Tomb Raider nearly happened ... twice

Though it took more than a year after "Tomb Raider" was released before the studio was ready to commit to a sequel, they finally did put the wheels in motion in 2019. In fact, rumor has it that when writer Amy Jump and director Ben Wheatley were still on board, the "Tomb Raider" sequel came fairly close to beginning production. According to a November 2019 report from HN Entertainment, it was reported that Vikander was signed on, the script was ready to go, and the studio was locking down locations for shooting.

Per the HN Entertainment report — which was seemingly never confirmed by any of the major trades — MGM studios was preparing to bring the production back to the U.K., where much of the first movie was filmed. Warner Bros.' Leavesden Studios was even said to be the place where they would set up shop for the sequel before it all fell apart. What's known for a fact is that this version of the movie was supposed to start shooting in early 2020, although pandemic-related shutdowns forced the project to be put on hold, and then its release date was taken off the calendar altogether. Speaking about this with Total Film in July 2023, Ben Wheatley explained, "Basically, they got stuffed by COVID-19. We were really close to doing it, and then it all just fell apart, as everything did."

It wouldn't be until 2021 that it got back up and running. By then, Misha Green was the writer and director of record, and her version of the film was also further along than some fans may realize. As it happens, it even had a title, "Tomb Raider: Obsidian," and Vikander was expressing excitement over an imminent production start that never came.

What would a sequel to Tomb Raider be about?

Nobody but those involved know what the sequel would have been about when it was under the stewardship of writer Amy Jump and director Ben Wheatley. However, some word has trickled out over the years of what might have happened in the version written by Misha Green, cobbled together from various tidbits that leaked during its development and after the film was shuttered.

In addition to talk that Kristen Scott Thomas would return in a bigger role as the main villain of the film, audiences also got a brief glimpse of some of the action in late 2022, when storyboards from the movie surfaced. In September of that year, storyboard artist Jake Lunt Davies posted a series of images that he'd created for the project on Twitter. What they revealed didn't give away too much of the plot, but they did showcase a pulse-pounding sequence that may have kicked off the story, with a daring attack on Croft Manor carried out by shadowy agents. 

The attack sees masked men cutting wires to the manor's security or power systems before entering the abode. Inside, Lara lobs a spear at one of the intruders before getting pinned down in a fierce firefight and cutting her feet on broken glass. Given the ending of the 2018 "Tomb Raider" — and the rumored larger role for Ana Williams — it's possible this raid was orchestrated by Lara Croft's mentor, sparking a quest that would take her to various locations to get to the truth. 

A reboot of Tomb Raider has already been announced

If there's anything still standing in the way of a sequel to 2018's "Tomb Raider," it isn't the pandemic, problems with the script, or scheduling with the actors. Instead, it's the fact that a reboot of the franchise was announced in early 2023. This stems from MGM's loss of the rights following their acquisition by Amazon, with an apparent bidding war taking place for the chance to start from scratch. 

Ironically enough, the winners of that war were Amazon, who quickly announced grand plans for a total reboot of the movie with a new actor taking over for Alicia Vikander. The deal was a big one for the streaming service, which includes much more than just the rights to make a feature film, and while numbers weren't announced, The Hollywood Reporter suggested it was on par with their $250 million deal for "The Lord of The Rings." The announcement came on the heels of the news that Amazon would be getting into the video game publishing business, and it would be putting out the next Tomb Raider console game from developer Crystal Dynamics.

Details as of press time are still sketchy, with no writer announced for the film, let alone a director or star. But that doesn't mean that Amazon hasn't started work on the project, and they have, in fact, made bigger plans that could see an explosion of "Tomb Raider" across multiple media platforms.

A Tomb Raider cinematic universe may be on the horizon

After snagging the rights to a "Tomb Raider" adaptation, the folks at Amazon have revealed they'll be crafting a big-screen reboot ... but that isn't all. The film will be just one part of a larger tapestry, and they have plans to turn the franchise into a full-fledged cinematic universe. And to make that happen, they also announced that a "Tomb Raider" TV series is in the works as a streaming original, with plans for the show and film to be tightly integrated with both each other and the already-announced video game relaunch.

Even more exciting is that spearheading the effort behind the scenes will be Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the three-time Emmy Award-winning creator and writer of "Fleabag," star of "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny," and co-writer of the 2021 James Bond film "No Time to Die." According to the trades, Waller-Bridge will write the series — but is unlikely to be involved in the film — and while many fans may have jumped to the conclusion that she might play Lara Croft too, that doesn't appear to be the case.

One actor who has stepped up to volunteer for the title role is Michaela Jae Rodriguez. "I would like to tackle a role like Lara Croft," she told Variety, adding, "I would love to do that because I have the badassness and sex appeal to make people love it. If not, I would also love to be Lara Croft's right-hand girl who gets just as much airtime and is right next to her killing it."

Don't count out a sequel to Tomb Raider

With a cinematic universe on its way that will reboot the franchise with an all-new cast and crew, it might seem like a sequel to 2018's "Tomb Raider" has no chance of ever seeing the light of day. But if one steps back and takes stock of the Hollywood landscape, they'll see that a return to that universe isn't really far-fetched, and it could actually still happen, even if it's not anytime soon.

After all, recent films like "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and "The Flash" have seen the return of actors who audiences thought they'd said goodbye to decades ago, with both Tobey Maguire and Michael Keaton returning as Spider-Man and Batman. And while we're not suggesting that Amazon will use the multiverse to have previous Lara Crofts meet — although that isn't off the table either — the idea of returning to the continuity of a previous movie even after a reboot isn't without precedent itself, with "Terminator" and "Halloween" franchises both doing just that.

From the sounds of it, even star Alicia Vikander would still be up for reprising the role years down the line. "['Tomb Raider'] was another one of those childhood dreams — to portray an action character was awesome and beyond what I ever thought I would do," Vikander told Variety in 2023, and she made clear that it's something she'd love to do again. "If another opportunity like that came again, I'll be interested."