E3 2012: ‘Tomb Raider’ Developer Crystal Dynamics Explains Game and Movie Crossover

Lara Croft Tomb Raider

Gamers are in for a double feature of Lara Croft with Square Enix releasing a game reboot in early 2013 and GK Films developing a movie based on that new game for next year.

LOS ANGELES -- Lara Croft, one of the most recognizable video game characters in the world, will return to E3 2012. Developer Crystal Dynamics has been busy working on the Tomb Raider reboot, which premiered at E3 last year. Publisher Square Enix gave the developer additional time to fine-tune the gameplay with an early 2013 launch.

The new Tomb Raider features a Lara Croft fresh out of college, shipwrecked on a mysterious island in her very first adventure. The game’s focus has been shifted away from puzzle-solving to a more cinematic action-adventure feel that puts players in the shoes of the aspiring archeologist.

Karl Stewart, global brand director for Crystal Dynamics, talks about how the game developer is working with the filmmakers at GK Films in this exclusive interview.

The Hollywood Reporter: What we see on screen in this game is very cinematic, but there will also be a new Hollywood  adventure. What are your thoughts about Tomb Raider going back to the big screen?

Karl Stewart: Apart from myself, the studio is very excited. To spend time in late 2008/early 2009 coming up with this re-imagining, really putting our back behind it, and then to get to a point where a studio like GK Films sits and listens to our pitch, and then makes a decision that this is something they want to also bet on, not only just for a re-mix, but also now the big Hollywood movie studio. We’re very excited.

THR: How will the movie tie into the new game?

Stewart: The intent, so far, is that we go back and tell the exact same story. Of course, what we tell in 10 hours is very different than what they will tell in a blockbuster movie of 90 minutes. There will be some truncating, and we’re very excited to see what comes out.

THR: Can you talk about the talk about the talent that they have involved in the film?

Stewart: We’ve been working very hard with them to support our vision. They have Hawk Ostby and Mark Fergus. Both of those writers worked together on Children of Men, Iron Man, and Cowboys & Aliens. So they’ve worked very closely together. Children of Men is a very inspirational movie. They did certain things in that that were truly creative, so we’re very happy with that. We haven’t gotten as far as director or cast just yet. Everyone agrees that we need to make sure that we nail the story first.

THR: What do you think it was about the first two Tomb Raider movies that made them succeed, where so many other video game adaptations have failed in Hollywood?

Stewart: I think it was a very strong female character. Lara Croft had broken new ground in the video game era 15 years ago. It brought personality, a new character, and emotion that we hadn’t really seen before. To see that depicted on the big screen, especially in the first Tomb Raider. Angelina Jolie did such a great job that, of course, everybody wants to see their character that they just spent eight to 10 hours playing live out an adventure in a movie. We see this as a very important juncture in video game to movie adaptations. We hope to be able to continue that with this next Tomb Raider.

THR: Have you seen Hollywood’s attitude toward games evolve over that span of time since the first Tomb Raider movie?

Stewart: In general what’s happened is that over the years it’s become more and more focused to delivering a good movie and not just, “You have a portfolio or a franchise of great icons, and we could make a movie about them.” We’ve seen so many come and go. Over the last few years, you can probably count on one hand how many big movies came out that are based off of a video game character. I think Hollywood directors are getting more pickier.

THR: Why is that?

Stewart: When we look at what the likes of Batman and James Bond have done, from making characters culturally relevant and bringing in emotion with reboots; there are very few characters inside of video games that you can see that transfer across to movies. It’s just gotten harder to find the right IP to be able to be build that blockbuster that they’re so akin to making right now with the original IPs.