The great Disney Star Wars Revival is in full swing, and the Mouse House is in the process of bringing back Lucasfilm’s other major film franchise: Indiana Jones. Earlier this year, the studio confirmed that a fifth installment in the classic action/adventure series was coming through the pipeline for a July 2019 premiere, with Harrison Ford once again donning the fedora. Steven Spielberg is lined up to direct, and his frequent collaborator David Koepp (who wrote Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) is penning the script.
With the project so far away, not much is known about what the creative team has in store – though Spielberg has said that the famed archeologist will not die in Indiana Jones 5. The filmmaker has also discussed the potential involvement of his old friend George Lucas, who co-created the character and served as an executive producer on the previous four movies. Spielberg stated over the summer that he “would never make an Indiana Jones film without George Lucas,” but Koepp’s comments on the matter suggest otherwise.
In an interview with Collider, the screenwriter mentioned that Lucas does not have a hand in crafting the Indiana Jones 5 story, saying, “I haven’t had any contact with him.” Spielberg’s earlier claims that Lucas would be an executive producer could still be true, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Lucas is attached to an Indiana Jones film and isn’t helping design the narrative. It would appear that Lucas would rather enjoy his retirement than jump into the Hollywood machine again, which isn’t all that surprising considering his comments about Disney in the lead-up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For many fans, this is a bittersweet revelation; like Star Wars, Lucas is an integral part of the Indiana Jones property, but he was responsible for some of the more unfavorable elements in Crystal Skull, such as his insistence aliens be in the film. Some viewers would prefer Lucas stay away.
Koepp also provided an update on his Indiana Jones 5 progress. After stressing how important it is to figure out the right artifact for Dr. Jones to track down, he revealed that he’s enjoying the process so far:
“It feels like it has a lot of momentum behind it. We have ‘top men’ working on it as we speak. No, it’s going really well. I really like our idea; I think it’s clean and simple and makes a lot of sense, and I feel like the writing is going really well.”
Koepp wouldn’t elaborate on the plot he and Spielberg came up with, but it’s nevertheless encouraging to get some insight on their approach. The earlier Indiana Jones films were great homages to the adventure serials Spielberg and Lucas watched in their youth, and were noteworthy for their simplicity. The franchise has always been more about the thrilling spectacle and having fun, as opposed to a complex narrative. If Indiana Jones 5 is to be successful, it would help if it was at least somewhat reminiscent of its predecessors. After all, that strategy led to Star Wars 7 becoming one of the biggest movies of all-time, so it’s best to stick with what works – while finding ways to incorporate new elements at the same time.
Spielberg, of course, is very busy at the moment. He’s currently working on Ready Player One, and plans on filming the historical drama The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara early next year. Still, Koepp is optimistic that production on Indiana Jones 5 could begin as early as October 2017. Time will tell, but that estimated start date indicates that the film is coming along nicely and there’s a solid story in place. Ford will have just celebrated his 77th birthday by the time the film reaches theaters, so odds are this will be his (real) swan song in the role. That’s a lot of pressure, but this group is more than capable of delivering something wholeheartedly entertaining.