Tomb Raider: Little Lion’s next immersive experience for London
Lara Croft’s newest mission is to shake up the city’s lively immersive experience sector.
Tom Lionetti-Maguire, Little Lion Entertainment’s founder and CEO, is excited to be bringing the Tomb Raider franchise to life in his native North London with Tomb Raider: The Live Experience. And he believes he’s found the perfect blank canvas to create the attraction’s Costa Rican jungle backdrop at Camden Market.
“The site is absolutely unbelievable,” he tells blooloop. “It’s right in the middle of one of the most famous, iconic tourist attractions in London. But aside from quite how great the location is, is the space itself. It’s totally open plan, 30,000 square feet with over 10 metres of ceiling height. I first looked at it and thought, “It’s a jungle already!”
“It was one of those moments where, in one sweep, I could see the whole experience, the intellectual property and the narrative right in front of me.”
Set to open in April, Tomb Raider: The Live Experience will provide “a really fun melting pot of video game fans, film fans and live experience fans,” says Lionetti-Maguire.
Your mission at Tomb Raider: The Live Experience
Visitors to London‘s Camden Market looking for adventure will be invited on “a globetrotting immersive journey” as they help Lara Croft hunt for a valuable artefact. Along the way, they will take on environmental puzzles, discover an ancient tomb and escape a sinking ship.
“You start as a team of intrepid explorers on a mission that gets more dangerous, perilous and exciting as you begin to uncover what’s going on,” says Lionetti-Maguire. “It becomes a mission to save the world!”
The attraction is being created together with game developer Crystal Dynamics and entertainment company Square Enix.
“Lara is an icon who transcends generations,” says Dallas Dickinson, Tomb Raider executive producer at Crystal Dynamics. “We know that fans of all ages will run, jump, and swing at this chance to save the world alongside their hero”.
Participating in groups of up to eight, explorers will experience all-new Tomb Raider content as they meet a version of Lara Croft described by Lionetti-Maguire as, “Somewhere between classic Lara and Survivor era Lara”.
Exactly what form Croft and other characters from the Tomb Raider games will appear in The Live Experience remains a secret for now. But there will be a combination of media-based content and live actors.
“That’s a huge part of what Little Lion do,” says Lionetti-Maguire. “It’s what makes the experience different every night. All of these characters and the actors will either help or hinder you through your journey.”
Fans of the Tomb Raider games may find some of the challenges familiar. Yet there will also be, “Some kinetic, high adrenaline and quite fucking scary moments.”
“As an archaeologist, Lara Croft uncovers some things that are purportedly supernatural but often have a logical real-world explanation,” adds Lionetti-Maguire. “That’s led us to create a really physical experience. There will be some really sharp tech and video game-esque scoring, but integrated into Lara’s more analogue world.”
Keeping the intimacy in immersive attractions
Lionetti-Maguire says he finds it, “A little strange that some so-called immersive experiences can have hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of people in there. We keep the teams small because that’s what allows you to really switch off from the real world. You guys are the team; it’s your world. After five minutes, you find people are really lost within in it.”
Running two immersive, physical attractions certainly tested the Little Lion team over the past couple of years.
“I’ve been through so many emotions that I’m almost at a loss to tell you,” says Lionetti-Maguire. “But we got back to 100% capacity [in London] quite quickly last year. That’s a huge testament to what we do. Small teams just happen to be very helpful in terms of Covid compliance. We’re incredibly robust and resilient, but I feel really sorry for all our friends and colleagues in West End theatre. They have been hit so hard.”
Finding the right space for Tomb Raider: The Live Experience
Founded in 1974, Camden Market is a collection of adjoining markets alongside the Regents Canal. Situated about a mile-and-a-half north of London’s King’s Cross and Euston stations, the area made its name as a destination for those wanting to shop, eat and drink beyond the mainstream.
Ironically, it has now become one of London’s most popular retail destinations. Yet there’s still a creative spirit evident amongst its hundreds of independent traders, with music and fashion central to its legacy.
The Stables Market, where Tomb Raider: The Live Experience will be based, is the largest of Camden’s market spaces. The traders that previously occupied the site have since been relocated.
“The landlord is quite visionary in what he wants to do,” says Lionetti-Maguire. “He wants to reimagine parts of Camden Market as a leisure destination that keeps alive that freshness of Camden.”
The Little Lion CEO says he simply would not have found the same sort of space in London’s West End, where The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience is now located.
“You could get 30,000 square feet, but it’d be an office block and every floor would be 2 metres tall. To really immerse people into a journey for two hours, you have to create cinematic levels of set, beautiful vistas and panoramas. The more weird, quirky and voluminous the space, that’s when you can really create magic.”
Croft Manor comes to Camden Market
Unlike some immersive attractions which take place behind closed doors, Tomb Raider: The Live Experience will have an inviting entrance area and ‘shop window’ onto the rest of the Stables Market.
“We wanted to keep a large part of it open,” says Lionetti-Maguire. “Camden Market’s all about exploring different nooks and crannies. As you come down into the atrium to get your ticket, you’ll overlook one of the most theatrical moments as explorers spill out into this Costa Rican jungle. We’re putting in floor to ceiling one-way glass. So, you can see people in the world, but they won’t be able to see you. It’s just a nice, word of mouth type moment.”
The experience for explorers will culminate in, “A quintessentially British bar” themed as Croft Manor.
Lionetti-Maguire applauds Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix for the way in which they have evolved Tomb Raider for today’s gamers. “If you’ve played any of the recent Survivor games, you can see how gorgeous those games are. The amount of work that goes into video games these days is absolutely gobsmacking.”
Little Lion Entertainment will manage the design and creative direction of Tomb Raider: The Live Experience, working closely with the IP owners. The principal scenic fabricator will be MDM Props, with which Little Lion enjoys a long relationship.
Here are some questions and answers about Tomb Raider The Live Experience.
WHEN DOES IT OPEN?
1st April 2022. But don’t be fooled, this mission isn’t for the faint hearted.
WILL WE BE USING GUNS OR WEAPONS?
Your greatest weapon is yourself. For the most part you will be using your sharp mind, and your fearless wit to defend yourself. Occasionally there might be some archery...
WILL IT BE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
Tomb Raiders need to be aged 12 and above. Under 18s will need to be accompanied by an adult.
WILL YOU BE OPENING OTHER LOCATIONS?
England’s capital is where it starts. Who knows where your next mission will be?
HOW MANY PEOPLE IS IT FOR?
There are eight heroes per team for this mission.
WILL LARA BE THERE?
She’ll be there to guide. But it’s your time to be the hero.
HOW MUCH IS THE TICKET ?
Prices from £66pp to £99pp including booking fees. Visit the official website: www.tombraiderlive.co.uk