Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm charged full-speed ahead with the production of brand-new movie installments in the Star Wars franchise after the latter was acquired by Disney back in 2012. The Indiana Jones franchise, however, was a different story, in part because Disney didn't fully own the rights to the property until around a year after it had purchased Lucasfilm. Since then, the story from both Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and Disney Chairman Alan Horn has always been the same: Indiana Jones will, in fact, return... one day.
Now, following a couple years' worth of rumors about what could come next for the franchise - varying from a hard reboot featuring a new actor as Dr. Henry Jones, Jr. to a 'continuation' or soft reboot that would still include Harrison Ford as Dr. Jones - it's official: Indiana Jones 5 (official title TBA) is coming in 2019.
Disney/Lucasfilm has confirmed that Steven Spielberg will return to direct the fifth (and final?) Indiana Jones film, once again starring Ford as the eponymous bullwhip-swinging adventurer. The film is set to reach theaters on July 19th, 2019 - less than a week after Ford celebrates his 77th (!) birthday. Here is the official statement about the news from Horn:
“Indiana Jones is one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history, and we can’t wait to bring him back to the screen in 2019. It’s rare to have such a perfect combination of director, producers, actor and role, and we couldn’t be more excited to embark on this adventure with Harrison and Steven.”
The 2019 theatrical release date for Indiana Jones 5 doesn't come as a surprise, given that it's become increasingly clear over the past year that Spielberg has been set on directing the film himself. Spielberg is currently in post-production on The BFG (with a July 2016 release deadline to make) and he will begin filming Ready Player One later this year for a March 2018 release, so he won't be available to start production on the fifth Indiana Jones film until late spring/early summer of 2018, anyway. Disney and Marvel Studios currently have the Inhumans movie scheduled to open a week before Indiana Jones 5, so look for that comic book adaptation to change dates in the foreseeable future.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Disney/Lucasfilm's Indiana Jones 5 announcement is that George Lucas is not mentioned anywhere in the studios' press release - meaning that, until further notice, this will be the first Indiana Jones film that is based on a screen story that Lucas played no role in developing. The news isn't shocking, seeing as Lucas has essentially retired from big-budget movie-making and is no longer actively involved with developing additional installments in any of the Lucasfilm franchises that he helped create. Of course, for those who felt Lucas' story/screenplay contributions were the main problem with the not-so-beloved Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, his lack of involvement with Indiana Jones 5 likely comes as encouraging news.
Indeed, many will be glad that Spielberg is keeping true to his promise that only Ford will play Indiana Jones under his watch - and likely see Indiana Jones 5 as a chance for the pair to end their time on the franchise on a high(er) note than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. There is certainly a lot that remains up in the air for the project right now (for example, whether or not Karen Allen and/or Shia LaBeouf will reprise as Indiana's wife Marion Ravenwood and son Mutt, respectively), but for the time being we'll stay hopeful that the film will give Ford's Indiana Jones one last hurrah before he rides off into the sunset... again.
Indiana Jones 5 will open in U.S. theaters on July 19th, 2019.
Source: Walt Disney Studios/Lucasfilm