When Disney announced its $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm, the Mouse House was quick to announce that it would develop, finance and release Star Wars: Episode VII in theaters by 2015 (that remains the plan). However, when it came to Indiana Jones - that other serial genre throwback IP and financial juggernaut conceived by George Lucas - the studio had to proceed forward with greater caution.
Paramount, at that time, still had partial ownership of the Indy Jones franchise, having distributed the four previous live-action feature installments in theaters. Still, the way that star Harrison Ford has been nonchalantly (wink, wink) making references to a fifth movie in recent months, it has seemed only a matter of time before Disney would make some official announcement - sooner rather than later - that concerns the future of the well-traveled archaeologist with the bullwhip and fedora.
THR is reporting that Disney and Paramount have reached an agreement, where Mickey Mouse's company assumes full control over all the future Indiana Jones-related projects (movies, TV spinoffs, etc.) while Paramount will receive a slice - make that $lice - of the pie "on any future films that are produced and released," according to the official joint statement from the studios. So, for every Indiana Jones movie that the Mouse House produces and distributes in theaters, Paramount is guaranteed to make some quick cash.
Frankly, that's a sweet deal; though, not the first of a highly profitable nature that's been struck between Disney and Paramount, coming three or so years after their exchanging of rights for Marvel's The Avengers and Iron Man 3 (the Mouse House probably got the better end of that agreement, all things considered).
Rumor has it that Disney and Lucasfilm have re-started development on Indiana Jones 5, as part of a deal that assures Ford will return to play an older version of Han Solo in Episode VII in exchange. Basically, in the five years since the fourth movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - which grossed $787 million worldwide despite 19 years passing between installments (and lukewarm critical reactions) - concerned parties like Karen Allen (who plays Indy's ex-flame-turned wife, Marion) and director Steven Spielberg (helmer on the previous movies) have said the same thing: a fifth installment depends on George Lucas.
Except, of course, it no longer does; Lucas presumably won't be involved with Indiana Jones 5 beyond a creative consultant level, as is the case with Star Wars: Episode VII. Meanwhile, chances are good that if Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy - who served as Spielberg's trusted executive producer on all his projects from 1982-2012 - can find a suitable writer to put together a script, then Spielberg and Ford will reunite for one final (?) adventure with Henry Jones (Jr.). And seeing how Kennedy got the likes of Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), followed by Episode VII director J.J. Abrams and writer Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back), to work on the Episode VII script, she ought to have little trouble doing just that.
But what about when Ford permanently retires his hat and whip (which the 71-year old actor will have to do in the foreseeable future)? Clearly, Disney intends to keep milking this cow for years to come, which could mean a movie reboot down the line, in addition to spinoffs like an animated TV series (similar to Disney XD's upcoming Star Wars Rebels) and/or a modern attempt at a young Indiana Jones live-action TV show, in the vein of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (which aired from 1992-93).
Do you think the Indiana Jones character should live on, even when the actor who originated the role of the globe-trotting archaeologist finally calls it a day (a la James Bond, Batman, etc.)? Or would you rather the series conclude with a really great version of Indiana Jones 5 - one that makes up for the disappointment of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? (Pick one, since it's safe to say the series won't simply be laid to rest hereon out.)
We'll keep you posted on all news Indiana Jones-related as it comes our way.