The Alicia Vikander-led Tomb Raider movie reboot sequel has gotten both a director and official release date. Loosely based on the 2013 reboot of the original video game franchise, last year's Tomb Raider put a decidedly grittier spin on the world of Lara Croft, with Vikander portraying the character as a young woman who's only just begun her career as a globe-trotting adventurer. The film drew mixed reviews and was criticized for its uninspired origin story, but praised for not objectifying Vikander and delivering impressively rough and tumble action sequences.
While it performed softer than expected in the U.S., Tomb Raider went on to gross enough worldwide ($275 million) to more than cover its production budget (estimated at $90-100 million or so). And though it took a while for MGM to take the next logical step forward, the studio recruited writer Amy Jump to write the Tomb Raider 2 script earlier this year. Now, Jump's frequent collaborator and husband-filmmaker Ben Wheatley has joined the sequel as director.
According to Deadline, MGM has set a March 19, 2021 release date for the as-yet untitled Tomb Raider sequel, with Vikander once again starring and Wheatley calling the shots from Jump's script. Production on the film is slated to get underway near the top of 2020.
Wheatley and Jump have been working together professionally for nearly ten years, delivering cult films that range from the psychological horror movie Kill List to the dystopian allegory High-Rise and, most recently, the action-comedy Free Fire in that time. Cinephiles will no doubt be excited to hear the pair are now lending their talents to the next Tomb Raider and, hopefully, being allowed enough freedom to put their stamp on the survival adventure property. The first Tomb Raider left the door wide open for its sequel by ending with Lara finally discovering the truth about Trinity (namely, its front company, Patna, is part of Croft Holdings) and preparing for her next fight with the shadowy organization. And with Lara's origin story now firmly out of the way, the followup will be free to explore a fresher storyline and, presumably, include a whole lot more actual tomb-raiding along the way.
It was also a smart move on MGM's part to avoid waiting too long before green-lighting Tomb Raider 2. Sequels like The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part and Godzilla: King of the Monsters were clearly hurt at the box office by the extended gap between their predecessors hitting theaters and their own release this year (five years, in both cases), but the three-year break between Tomb Raider films shouldn't be a problem by comparison. It also means the reboot's had time to develop a larger fanbase, as those who decided to skip seeing Tomb Raider in theaters will now have had the chance to watch it at home and (potentially) get onboard for the sequel.