Tomb Raider isn’t the smash hit Warner Bros was probably hoping for, but it is doing fairly well at the box office. The domestic box office is disappointing, but thanks to foreign box office sales, the movie is not a flop. Tomb Raider has outperformed Angelina Jolie’s second outing as Lara Croft in Lara Croft: The Cradle of Life, which ended its run with $154 million worldwide. Tomb Raider is only $63 million away from reaching the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider‘s worldwide haul of $274 million. Tomb Raider currently sits at $211 million worldwide.
Tomb Raider outperformed recent female-led action movies, Ghost in the Shell, Red Sparrow, and Atomic Blonde. Of this current crop of female-led action movies, Tomb Raider had the highest opening box office numbers and has surpassed $200 million. Ghost in the Shell ended it’s run with $169 million worldwide.
It cannot be denied that Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, and the character itself, were incredible in the film. The action, mystery, and villains may have not been up to par, but Vikander as Lara is a great addition to the very few heroines we have today. Warner Bros should not give up on this franchise. If a sequel is to happen, the first thing to do is find a director who is far more comfortable with action sequences, specifically staging the action. Roar Uthag did fine job but he seemed to lack the ambition needed to make this action-adventure as exciting as it needed to be.
Here are a few things Warner Bros should focus on in the sequel. Spoilers ahead.
1. Keep it simple.Tomb Raider follows the 2013 rebooted game of the same name. The sequel should naturally follow the plot of the video games sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider. In the 2015 video game, Lara follows up her adventure at Yamati with an adventure in Siberia. She is intent on finishing what her father started and stop Trinity. Tomb Raider the film ends with a setup for this plot line. Lara discovers that Ana Martin is involved with Trinity after she has given Martin considerable power at her father’s company. The set up for the sequel is very clear, all that is required of the screenwriters is to copy the game. No one is asking for more or anything different. Also, there is nothing wrong with pulling inspiration from a similar project… Perhaps the team behind Tomb Raider should binge the Indiana Jones trilogy (Yes, I said trilogy).
2. Get ambitious with the action.The sequel needs to raise the stakes in terms of the action sequences and puzzles. Those two things sort of took a back seat to the character development of Lara Croft. Although the action sequences and puzzles were entertaining, they weren’t ambitious. Vikander proved to be very capable in her action scenes and did not shy from taking on those challenges. To see more of her taking on impossible tasks is what audiences want. Great action can help elevate the simplest of stories. There are numerous directors working today who have raised the bar in terms of action. Warner Bros should start loading up that dump trunk of money. Suggestion: David Leitch and/or Chad Stahelski.
3. A well-drawn villain.Ana Martin is a key villain in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Again, Tomb Raider sets up her arc nicely and with Kristin Scott Thomas back in the role, it will surely give us an iconic villain. Here is where a screenwriter will have to be very careful. Crafting villains is hard because often they are too cartoonish or lame. A balance needs to be struck, and we have high hopes since Thomas is a seasoned actress who can slay a villainess monologue.
4. More Daniel Wu/Lu Ren.Tomb Raider was Lara-centric, which makes sense since this is HER movie. However, it means the talent around Vikander is wasted, like Daniel Wu. Wu is an incredibly charismatic and talented actor, and if you are familiar with his work in Into the Badlands, you know he can kick some ass. Tomb Raider suggests that Lu develops romantic feelings for Lara. The sequel should follow-up with that and make him more integral to Lara’s story. This is also financially beneficial to Warner Bros because Wu’s involvement may explain the decent box office opening in China, which is one of Warner Bros biggest debuts there. The Asian box office is critical to Hollywood and to have a Asian co-lead is a very smart move.
5. More women…everywhere.The folks behind Tomb Raider for some reason erased a key female character from the video game. For example: Samantha Nishimura, a descendant of Himiko, the source of the Croft’s problems. The reasoning for her erasure is unknown, but for those of us who have seen the film, you will notice there really isn’t room to develop any other characters. It is the Lara Croft show, but that doesn’t explain why they abandoned Sam. Vikander has also voiced her concern with the lack of women on set. The sequel should rectify that. In the sequel it would be nice to see Sophie (Hannah John-Kamen) return. She is Lara’s boxing friend but that is really the extent of her scenes. To ground Lara we need to see her interact with people, specifically her friends.
6. Angelina Jolie involvement.Lara Croft is one of Angelina Jolie’s most iconic roles. Her effect on the role is still strong as there are many not too excited by the change of direction with the character. Since playing Lara Croft, Jolie has assembled an impressive filmography and has turned to directing and producing. If I were producing the second Tomb Raider film, I would be blowing up Jolie’s phone, begging her to get involved. Perhaps Vikander’s Lara meets another tomb raider who helps her out, a potential new ally who was involved with Richard Croft’s efforts to save the world. Or perhaps Lara’s mother isn’t really dead. Or Ana Martin isn’t the only villainess in town.
Jolie could even step behind the camera. She has mostly directed dramas but with her experience on action sets, she could turn out to be the prefect person to direct Tomb Raider 2. Patty Jenkins cut her teeth on Wonder Woman after only doing dramas and that turned out great. Warner Bros should do whatever it takes to get Jolie on board. It will also appease the fanbase that still hold onto her portrayal of the character.