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SYFY WIRE Tomb Raider

'Tomb Raider' film franchise falls off cliff as MGM loses rights, Lara Croft's future up for grabs

Get ready for a new big-screen incarnation of Lara Croft... eventually. 

By Matthew Jackson
Tomb Raider 2

After four years of waiting for a sequel to 2018's Tomb Raider, fans of that Alicia Vikander-led film got some bad news this week. The Wrap reports that MGM has lost the feature film rights to the Tomb Raider franchise, which has sparked a "bidding war" that will likely lead to yet another film reboot in the future. 

According to The Wrap's sources, the studio was facing down a May deadline to greenlight a new Tomb Raider film after years of slow development on a sequel to Vikander's 2018 outing, and the deadline came and went without any movement. Now, other studios are exploring what it might take to acquire the franchise for themselves, which means Vikander is almost certainly out, and the future of Tomb Raider on the big screen is wide open. 

Development on Tomb Raider 2 seemed to be on track for quite a while, first with In The Earth and Kill List writer/director Ben Wheatley attached, but Wheatly eventually left the project and set to work on The Meg 2 instead. Misha Green, fresh off an acclaimed stint as showrunner on HBO's Lovecraft Country, picked up the sequel, and even teased that a draft of the script was completed. Sadly, it seems MGM wasn't ready to move forward on Green's draft, leaving Tomb Raider in limbo until the rights expired.

Things got a little more complicated earlier this year when Tomb Raider rights-holder Square Enix sold the IP, along with several other game franchises and studios, to Embracer Group in a $300 million deal. In a financial report following the purchase, Embracer Group highlighted the franchise, along with other gaming mainstays like Deus Ex and Legacy of Kain, as a source of "great potential" for the company. 

What happens now is still very much an open question. The rights are out there for the right studio or streamer to pick up and turn over yet another adaptation, whether that means a movie franchise or a big-budget streaming series, and there are certainly no shortage of Tomb Raider fans out in the world. It seems likely that we'll see some movement on this front soon, though it might be a few years before we actually see a new project, but it's very unlikely that Lara Croft will stay down for long. She's just not built that way. 

Looking for more tomb-raiding and high-flying adventure in the meantime? The entire The Mummy trilogy will be streaming on Peacock in August — plus The Scorpion King spinoff for good measure.