Tomb Raider is not a typical video game. Tomb Raider is a phenomenal success story within the video game industry. However, Tomb Raider’s popularity transcended the world of digital entertainment. It is a good example of a game that went beyond the confines of the TV monitor, personal computer, and Play Station console. The Hollywood blockbuster film entitled Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was based on the Tomb Raider storyline.
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The global success of the Hollywood version was due in part to the popularity of the game, and the fact that Angelina Jolie was the lead character of the movie. The film was a global success, because it appealed to the female fans of the Tomb Raider video game, and it catered to the culture needs of the men who went out to see the movie.
The Female Fans
The female fans of Tomb Raider played a critical role in the movie’s box office success (Mitchell, 2008). The popularity of the video game was made clear when Lara Croft appeared on the cover of 200 magazines, such as, Newsweek, Time, and Rolling Stone (Mitchell, 2008). A significant number of fan websites were created all over the world to honor Lara Croft.
It did not take long before Hollywood producers created a film version of the video game. Thus, the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was released in 2001. The overwhelming response from the fans prompted producers to create a sequel entitled Lara Croft: Cradle of Civilization. Without a doubt, the fans of the video game went to the theaters in huge numbers. Nonetheless, even those who were unfamiliar with the game were compelled to purchase tickets to support the movie. They were drawn to the film’s presentation of a strong female character.
The film was released at a critical time in Hollywood history. It was a period characterized by the evolution of the action hero (Inness, 2004). In that particular point in movie history, films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Charlie’s Angels, and The Matrix became influential forces in shaping popular culture. These movies showcased the talents of strong female characters. At the same time, the aforementioned movies featured women who prevailed in combat (Inness, 2004).
The female fans of the video game became the admirers of the character played by Angelina Jolie in the movie. Female teenagers and young adults went to see the movie because they idolized Angelina Jolie. The actress inspired them to become physically fit (Inness, 2004). The Hollywood celebrity encouraged them to exercise. Jolie’s character motivated them to lead an active lifestyle, in order to develop their physical bodies (Inness, 2004). They want to look like their idol (Inness, 2004).
The Male Audience
Men went to the movie theaters to see the film, because they wanted to see an action movie. In other words, the film had great entertainment value. It can be argued that a number of male teenagers went to see the movie because they were familiar with the Tomb Raider video game. Some of them were legitimate fans of the said product.
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They also paid to see the movie because of Angelina Jolie’s sex appeal. In one memorable scene, Jolie’s character was decked out in a body suit in order to emphasize her desirable feminine features (Fox-Kales, 2011). According to one commentary there were many shots wherein the camera focuses on her bosom (Fox-Kales, 2011). Men went to see the movie because it appealed to male cultural fantasies (Fox-Kales, 2011).
It can be argued that the producers created the movie to cater to the needs of the male audience. For example, they made changes to the original storyline (Caldwell, 2010). Furthermore, those who are familiar with the video game associate Lara Croft’s character with a female teenager. She looks like young girl, and she does not look like
a grown woman like Angelina Jolie. If the producers stayed faithful to the original narrative as the basic framework of the movie, then, they would have chosen a teenager to play the role of Lara Croft. However, they probably wanted to attract men who were not Tomb Raider fans. They wanted men to spend money to watch Angelina Jolie play the role of Lara Croft. Thus, the producers made subtle changes to the character.
The phenomenal success of the film entitled Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was the end result of several factors. First, of all, the film was based on a popular video game. This ensures that the fans of the game will go to the movie theaters in droves. However, the producers created a film that catered to the needs of men. Thus, there were significant changes and improvements made on the original storyline. The need to please the male audience is the primary reason why the producers of the said film hired Angelina Jolie to play the role of Lara Croft.
Caldwell, T. (2010). Film analysis handbook: Essential guide to understanding, analyzing, and writing film. Sydney: Insight Publications.
Fox-Kales, E. (2011). Body shots: Hollywood and the culture of eating disorders. New York: SUNY Press.
Inness, S. (2004). Action chicks: New images of tough women in popular culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan
Mitchell, C. (2008). Girl culture: Studying girl culture. CT: Greenwood Press.