Jan de Bont looks back on the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life experience, which made him want to quit cinema.
2003 was a bad year for Lara Croft. His arrival on Playstation 2 with Tomb Raider: The Dark Angel , was a disaster on every level, which ended the Core Design era, as Crystal Dynamics took over the franchise afterwards. At the movies, the sequel to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider , titled The Cradle of Life, was also a box office disappointment, with 160 million collected (compared to around 275 for the first).
If the Tomb Raider brand has since been revived by two game-side reboots ( Tomb Raider: Legend in 2006 and Tomb Raider in 2013), and a new Tomb Raider film in 2018, with Alicia Vikander, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of life stuck in the throat of its director Jan de Bont. The proof: he hasn't achieved anything since. And he explained why to Uproxx.
“I hit a shark so this thing won't piss me off”
Jan de Bont was first director of photography for Paul Verhoeven, from his early short films to Basic Instinct , and had a successful career in the US having worked with Ridley Scott, John McTiernan or Richard Donner. He then went behind the camera by chaining the boxes of Speed in 1994 and Twister in 1996 .
The rest of his career is less glorious, with Speed 2: Cap on Danger in 1997, Haunted in 1999, and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life in 2003. Since then, nothing. And this is no accident, as he explained in an interview with Uproxx:
“It wasn't really a great experience. But more because the studio was trying to really interfere with the movie, in a way. And the thing is, the game developers were involved too. And we didn't get me. never said that they also had a say. Suddenly you had to change all these things, and who had to do what, and who had to be cast. And then suddenly it became a thing. It was huge. Everything was taking on huge proportions. And then the very first day of filming, in Greece, on the island, we got a call: 'I wanted to congratulate you on your first day. And by the way, we have to cut 12 million from the budget '. Day one! And at that time, $ 12 million was like four scenes. “
Jan and Jolie
Who says four cut scenes, says problems in the scenario. Jan de Bont worried about it, but apparently he was the only one:
“I said, 'Wait, what do we do with the storyboard? It's going to create huge holes in the story. And how do we fill that in? What are we going to replace all of that with?' And all that followed us to the end. It was really … a shame. I rather liked working with Angelina Jolie, she's a character, but I found it very interesting to work with such a character. She's really opinionated, but not in a bad way. It's not easy to work with her, but for me it wasn't too much of a problem. I didn't really see anything negative about it. period, and I really ended up enjoying it very much. “
More generally, the director found that the experience was far too absurd and crazy to make him want to stay in the business:
“In the end we end up saying to ourselves, OK is it going to be like that on all the movies? With a studio that has a say in what needs to be done, what scenes need to be shot, what t-shirt someone has to wear? They didn't like the buttons on a t-shirt! I still remember it, I got a call, 'I didn't like the buttons on that t-shirt'. Don't remember. What's the name of the guy? The first role in this film? Hey, I forgot his name [a priori, he talks about Gerard Butler, editor's note]. There we say to ourselves, 'No but wait . Are you calling me because you don't like the buttons on the t-shirt? “. It was so absurd. Really. And then having to constantly deal with budget issues.”
“Fuck me, me in marcel, problem solved”
In the end, Jan de Bont lost the desire. The fatal blow was to see his next plans not come to pass (not to mention his Godzilla refused by the studio), so that he decided to stop fighting.
A third Tomb Raider was mentioned at the time, but the lukewarm score of the second opus cooled the studio, and Angelina Jolie had for her part decided to stop. In 2004, she explained that she did not want to come back after a satisfactory sequel according to her. Nice official words.
Alicia Vikander will return, too, at least once in Lara Croft, in a Tomb Raider 2 still without a release date.
Find our ranking of Tomb Raider games, from worst to best.
And our review of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The not-so-bad Cradle of Life is over there.