Crystal Dynamics' Rise of the Tomb Raider - the next installment in the rebooted Tomb Raider video game series - arrives November 2015, while, MGM and Warner Bros. are actively working together to bring globe-trotting British archaeologist/adventurer Lara Croft back to the big screen. Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)) has reportedly finished a script for the project, so the search for a director has been ongoing since then.
A female director is reportedly a priority for the studios behind the Tomb Raider reboot, with Tricia Brock - a longtime TV helmsman whose recent work includes episodes of The Walking Dead, Girls, and Mr. Robot - now said to have been one candidate who was offered the job, but decided to take a pass. However, MGM/WB is reported to have narrowed down its current director shortlist to three names.
Tracking Board is reporting that, now that Brock has formally passed on directing the Tomb Raider reboot, the project's current director shortlist includes Kathryn Bigelow, Catherine Hardwicke, and Mimi Leder. The Tracking Board site has recently broken a handful of stories - such as the news that Darren Aronofsky is lining up to direct an Evel Knievel biopic - that were subsequently corroborated by trusted outlets like THR and Deadline, so there is reason to believe this list of potential Tomb Raider helmers may be based on more that just wishful thinking... though, the list presumably isn't all encompassing.
Bigelow, Hardwicke, and Leder were also among the candidates on WB's reported Wonder Woman director shortlist (from back in late 2014), so it makes sense that the studio would also consider them for another valuable IP that features a female lead and blends action/fantasy genre elements. There's not exactly a surplus of established female directors in Hollywood right now, which is another reason why the same handful of candidates - who have strong credentials for either their previous big screen and/or small screen efforts - tend to pop up a lot, when studios prioritize the hiring of a woman as a project's director.
Hardwicke hasn't worked on a movie franchise since she helmed the first Twilight film installment, having concentrated more on indie fare (Plush) and cable television work (Hell on Wheels, Low Winter Sun). Similarly, Bigelow has specialized in prestigious drama/thriller material, frequently of the fact-based variety, over the past fifteen years (K-19: The Widowmaker, The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) after she first made her name with pulpier 1980s-90s action/thrillers like Blue Steel and Point Break. It's difficult to gauge how interested or not interested either Hardwicke or Bigelow would be in taking on this specific video game franchise, for that reason.
Nevertheless, both filmmakers have distinct styles and tend to make interesting aesthetic choices on their projects (even if the content sometimes has more niche appeal), so either would be an intriguing choice to tackle the Tomb Raider franchise. Leder, meanwhile, has movie directorial efforts like Deep Impact and Pay It Forward under her belt, but has spent most of the past fifteen years genre-hopping on the small screen - having directed episodes of comedy series (Shameless), drama (The Leftovers), and sci-fi/crime (Almost Human), among others. She's not as big a name as the others, but Leder has the potential to bring something interesting to table on Tomb Raider, too.
The plan appears to be for the Tomb Raider movie reboot to align more with the grittier and darker tone from the rebooted video games, unlike the comparatively lighter (read: sillier) tone embraced by the Angelina Jolie-headlined Lara Croft live-action movies released during the early 2000s. All three of the listed filmmakers have done work - be it gritty indie drama or more serious mainstream fare - that suggests their vision for the project would line up with that plan. Daugherty will likely stick to that tone too, as befitting a mainstream franchise project like this.
That ought to also be true for whoever does end up landing the Tomb Raider directing job here - be it one of the names listed here or someone else altogether. Fingers crossed, the person who takes on the task of re-imagining the Lara Croft character in live-action does a good job too, so that the video game movie renaissance we keeping waiting/hoping for can actually get underway, sooner rather than later.
We'll bring you more information on the Tomb Raider reboot as it becomes available.
Source: Tracking Board