The Tomb Raider franchise is probably one of the best modern examples of cross-platform media in the contemporary world of pop culture. It started out as a best-selling video game in its debut in 1996. Fans instantly fell in love with Lara Croft and the lore that surrounded the character. But not many could have predicted the kind of evolution that Tomb Raider has gone through since its initial debut. Today, the Tomb Raider franchise has been churning out video games, toys, films, comic books, online slot games, and other forms of merchandise. This article is going to delve deeper into the lore of the Tomb Raider franchise and how it has grown to become one of the biggest franchises in the history of the modern world.
Again, Tomb Raider started out as a video game that was released back in 1996. The first installment of the video game was such a huge success that its developer, Core Design, decided to churn out four more video games annually in the years to follow. This led to a whopping 58 million copies of Tomb Raider video games being sold worldwide within that span. That might not be considered a big number today. But back then, during the infantile stages of the video game industry, those numbers were near astronomical.
In fact, the influence of Tomb Raider was so prominent, that Sony decided to integrate the franchise into its branding and marketing strategies for their PlayStation consoles. The Tomb Raider games served as a benchmark for the best things that technology could offer to the gaming world at the time. There was a certain level of cinematic realism that these games were able to achieve and many others were merely trying to replicate. But the Tomb Raider brand was only getting started. Even though it was originally developed as a video game, the Tomb Raider franchise morphed into transmedia – crossing over to different platforms in world media.
In 2001 and 2003, the first films about the famed Lara Croft came out with the iconic actress Angelina Jolie at the helm. The films were titled Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life respectively. At that time, it became the highest-grossing film adaptation of a video game. When Jolie played the part of Lara Croft, it only added to the prestige of the brand by having such a valuable and prominent actress attaching her name to the role. The next time that any films would be made about Tomb Raider would be in 2018 when Paramount Pictures rebooted the franchise. This time, they had Alicia Vikander playing the iconic role of Lara Croft.
After the movies were such a big success, the entire Tomb Raider franchise started spreading out even further. Of course, as it is with many modern films, a bunch of toys and merchandise were put out to help market and sell the Jolie films. That’s another manifestation of the cross-platform evolution of Lara Croft. Many kids would end up purchasing Tomb Raider action figures and other kinds of merchandise. But it’s not just the movies. In 1999, the original comics detailing the lore of the Tomb Raider franchise were published. However, publication only carried on until 2005. In 2014, Dark Horse Comics rebooted the Tomb Raider comic franchise and have been coming out with new content up until this day. It just goes to show the effectiveness of the Tomb Raider franchise in various forms of media.
It doesn’t end there. Even though Tomb Raider started out as a video game for consoles, it also evolved to become a popular game for online casinos. In October 2004, Microgaming released the Lara Croft Tomb Raider slots game. It’s a 5-reel, 15 line online video slots game that is known and loved by many around the world. In fact, it’s one of the most popular online slots games today even though it’s been around for nearly two decades already.
Ultimately, very few franchises are able to evolve into a level of transmedia in the same vein as the Tomb Raider brand. But whenever they do, it’s always something special. It just proves that these stories and characters are deeply ingrained into the fabric of mainstream pop culture.