One of the biggest questions facing the impending return to a galaxy far, far away in Star Wars: Episode 7 is the extent to which franchise leads Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill will be involved. Ever since the announcement that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm with the intention of delivering an all-new trilogy, along with spin-off films, rumors and (mostly) unofficial reports have indicated that we’d see the fan-favorite performers return to their iconic roles. Still, in lieu of an official announcement, we cannot be sure (at least not yet) that each of the stars is signed to return. After all, talk is cheap until the papers are actually signed.

However, there’s no doubt that Lucasfilm is motivated to bring the actors back – especially given that a number of possible story scenarios actually center on Skywalker and Solo children. The studio is so motivated, in fact, they may have invested longterm resources in the development of Indiana Jones 5 – just to secure Harrison Ford’s involvement in Star Wars: Episode 7.

The news of Lucasfilm allocating resources into the development of a new Indiana Jones film first came to us courtesy of The Daily Superhero – who reported the studio has been actively (behind closed doors) attempting to figure what to do with the franchise. Rights issues (i.e. Paramount Pictures still retains distribution control) and the poor reception of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull have made developing Indy 5 a challenge – but Ford may have expedited any development hiatus by leveraging his involvement in Star Wars: Episode 7 with the promise that Lucasfilm will give him another Nazi-fighting adventure of his own.

The aforementioned tit (Indy 5) for tat (Episode 7) is the basis for a scenario recently reported by (largely untested source) Jedi News – who go so far as to indicate that Ford wasn’t going to sign for another Star Wars movie before seeing the full story arc for Han Solo and, also, required a commitment to a new Indiana Jones installment. So, is Ford on board and did he get what he wanted in the negotiation?

Again, no official announcement has been made, but according Latino Review (months back) Ford has signed-on for Star Wars: Episode 7 (even if he’s been less-forthcoming in public). That said, Jedi News indicates that the actor didn’t get everything he was hoping for at this juncture – while Ford was happy with the portrayal and direction of his Han Solo character (which could include several films), he did not get a firm commitment for Indiana Jones 5. Yet, Lucasfilm did agree to beginning development on a new chapter for Doctor Jones (and possibly son, Mutt Williams) – set for release before the close of 2016.

Meaning, while Lucasfilm isn’t promising to push out another risky addition to the Indiana Jones series, they’ll spend the next year developing a script – and, if everyone is onboard and in agreement, the studio will give the film a green light (which should add further credence to The Daily Superhero‘s report of those “behind closed doors” happenings). Apparently, the promise of a good will attempt at developing Indy 5 was enough to persuade Ford to board the Millennium Falcon again.

Given the state of the Indiana Jones franchise, following Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it’s not surprising that if Lucasfilm is going to move forward with a new film, they’ll be proceeding cautiously and under the radar for a while – especially since they’ve still got to re-launch Star Wars. Though, given the right script and director, there’s no doubt that Indiana Jones could deliver solid critical acclaim and massive box office sales. Assuming the rumors of Lucasfilm’s interest and commitment to developing Indiana Jones 5 are true, the next year could result in some very exciting announcements for fans of whips, snap brim fedoras, supernatural mysteries, and punching Nazis.

Star Wars: Episode 7 is scheduled for release in 2015.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates on Star Wars: Episode 7 and Indiana Jones 5 as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.

Sources: The Daily SuperheroJedi News, and Latino Review