The adventure genre has returned to the limelight with the release of two very different action-adventure films in 2022 involving an elaborate search for treasure: Uncharted and The Lost City.
Uncharted, starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, is already a box office smash, grossing $226.4 million worldwide. The film features the adventures of the treasure hunter Nathan Drake, played by Holland, and Wahlberg’s character Victor Sullivan. The two protagonists set out on an adventure to find the lost fortune of the explorer Ferdinand Magellan.
Adventures in modern entertainment
It is no surprise to see adventure films achieve box office success. The genre is popular on various entertainment platforms. One example is the popularity of adventure plots in comic books, such as A Man Among Ye. Written by Stephanie Phillips and illustrated by Craig Cermak, it tells the tale of the pirate queen Anne Bonny and Mary Read.
The adventure element also features in the comic novel Sea of Sorrows by Rich Douek, which involves a search for sunken treasure at the bottom of the sea. In addition, the adventure genre has appeared in new and innovative forms, such as Live Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt on Betway live casino. The character of Gonzo, who is a Spanish explorer seeking the lost city of Eldorado, is based on the archetypal treasure hunter found in films and comic books. The treasure hunt game is the first live casino game to offer players the opportunity to play the game in virtual reality mode. Television shows about real-life treasure hunts, such as Mystery at Blind Frog Ranch, have also proven popular. Evidently, the adventure genre continues to provide inspiration for innovations in the wider entertainment industry.
Indiana Jones returns for his swansong
Over the years, there have been many iterations and remakes of adventure films. Examples include Treasure Island, the 1950 adventure film based on the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, and film franchises such as the Indiana Jones film series, which began with Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981. Indeed, the fifth and final film in the Indiana Jones saga will be released in 2023. This highlights the timeless nature of the genre, which continues to be enjoyed in adventure films to this day.
This was taken a step further by Romancing the Stone, a 1984 adventure film starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito, which added a romantic comedy element to the plot. The film was so successful at the box office that the actors returned the following year with The Jewel of the Nile.
The return of the rom-com adventure
This phenomenon of adventure-romance films continues to this day with the 2022 film The Lost City, starring Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, and Daniel Radcliffe. The film has been favorably compared with the aforementioned 80s adventure and romantic comedy classics, with Tatum hopeful that the film can represent a new version of the genre.
Bullock plays Loretta Sage, an author of adventure novels, who is kidnapped by an eccentric billionaire while promoting her new book with Alan, a cover model played by Tatum. The billionaire, played by Radcliffe, is convinced she can help him find an ancient city’s lost treasure, which had featured in her latest novel.
Nevertheless, the film is an outlier in an industry that prefers masculine action-adventure heroes like those found in The Expendables film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, and a cast of macho action-movie veterans such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Chuck Norris.
The gamble pays off
The rom-com adventure has already exceeded expectations. The Lost City cost $68 million, a large sum for a film of this type, but made $31 million on the opening weekend, toppling The Batman from the number one position.
This achievement validates the decision of Paramount Pictures to take a punt on this film. ScreenRant has reported on a theory provided by Bullock explaining why big-budget romantic comedies are no longer made: “I think when everything swung toward the very masculine action-adventure, women got relegated to the arm piece or damsel in distress. Then, when rom-com came up, it was always like, ‘Oh, we’re going to let the women come back in, but it’s going to be this formula that we like, and it can’t be too edgy.” It is not always the case that female characters are sidelined in adventure storylines. The Adventureman comic series features a single mother as the main protagonist.
Evidently, the adventure genre remains highly popular in modern entertainment. The treasure hunter theme provides a ready-made plot template for filmmakers to follow. As we have seen, the adventure-romance storylines of the 1980s are making a comeback, which will perhaps lead to a shift from male-dominated action-adventure films in the future.