Everyone’s favorite swashbuckling archaeologist is headed back to the big screen in the upcoming fifth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, which is now expected to begin filming in 2020. The sequel — unofficially known as Indiana Jones 5 — will bring back Harrison Ford as Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, with franchise creator George Lucas on board as executive producer.
With the film currently scheduled to hit theaters July 9, 2021, here’s everything we know about Indiana Jones 5 so far.
Title: Indiana Jones 5 (not official)
Release date: July 9, 2021
Cast: Harrison Ford
New director, old approach
During a “Quarantine Watch Party” of his film Logan, director James Mangold discussed his approach to the new Indiana Jones movie.
“I’m always trying to find an emotional center to operate from,” he said. “I think the most important thing is, in an age when franchises have become a commodity, that serving the same thing again. At least for me, in the dances I’ve had with any franchises, serving the same thing again, the same way, usually just produces a longing for the first time you ate it. Meaning, it makes an audience wish that they just had the first one over again. So you have to push something to someplace new, while also remembering the core reasons why everyone was gathered.”
He contextualized this point by referencing the film he was watching at the time: “And to use Logan as an example of that, when you’re dealing in a world of a very pressured franchise — for all of the things, and there were many that I freed myself from in the canon, in the baggage, to try and make the best story — the core values of Logan, of Wolverine, and Charles Xavier and the X-Men, were something that I felt we never abandoned. The core ideas of their honor, their sense of duty, and the uniqueness of this particular set of characters that they were outcasts, oddities. Beings that had no home in this world, and yet were trying to do good. Were trying to do something right and find their way. Those core issues were at the heart of the movie. And in any franchise I take in, I’d always be trying to capture and make sure that we preserve those core ideas that are at the center, because that’s why these stories are more than franchises. They’re the fairy tales of our contemporary culture.”
No more Spielberg
According to Variety, Steven Spielberg has stepped down from the director’s chair for the fifth Indiana Jones film. Spielberg will stay attached to the project as a producer, while Harrison Ford will still return as the titular hero.
Spielberg was behind the camera for all four of the previous films, at least two of which have been seminally important to American filmmaking.
The fifth installment in the franchise has been in development purgatory since Lucasfilm announced it in 2016, with Ford commenting previously on the importance of the entire production crew taking their time to make a great movie.
Variety reports that James Mangold (Logan) is in talks to take over and give the franchise a fresh eye, but he has not officially signed on. Between Ford’s recent comments on “scheduling issues” and “script things” and now Spielberg stepping down, the July 2021 release date seems to be at least a little in jeopardy.
Taking their time
In an interview with HeyUGuys, Ford preached caution and due diligence when making another Indiana Jones film.
“I don’t really want to give them what they want to see, I want to give them something they didn’t anticipate,” Ford explained. “They are used to a degree of disappointment when you revisit. Certainly, the Marvel movies have made a spectacular example of a success [that] worked the other way around, they killed it! Well, we’re not going to make another Indiana Jones unless we are in a position to kill it. We want it to be the best. We’ve got some scheduling issues and a few script things to do but we are determined to get it right before we get it made.”
If this interview is any indication, Ford seems determined not to make another Crystal Skull. Fans of the famous archaeologist were widely disappointed with the fourth film in the Indy franchise, despite driving it to $786m at the worldwide box office.
Details are scarce regarding the plot of Indiana Jones 5, but one thing is certain: It won’t be a reboot.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that the film will be the next chapter in Indiana Jones’ saga while speaking to the BBC in February. Along with indicating that the script was still being worked on, Kennedy said: “Yeah, it’s not a reboot; it’s a continuation.”
In June 2018, veteran screenwriter David Koepp (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Jurassic Park) was reportedly replaced on the film by another frequent Spielberg (and Disney) collaborator, Jonathan Kasdan. The script then returned to Koepp later that year. However, Koepp revealed in an interview with Collider that when Spielberg left the film and was replaced by James Mangold, Koepp also stepped back to let Mangold have his own crack at the script.
The extent of Kasdan’s role on the project is unknown, and he might have simply provided a polish of Koepp’s original script. Kasdan’s father, Lawrence Kasdan, penned the screenplay for the first film in the franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The younger Kasdan provided the script for Disney and Lucasfilm’s spinoff film Solo: A Star Wars Story.
As for the content of the story, franchise producer Frank Marshall previously indicated that the fifth movie will be a continuation of the events following Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, rather than any sort of reboot or prequel. One thing that’s also been confirmed is that we won’t see Ford’s iconic character killed off.
“The one thing I will tell you is I’m not killing off Harrison [Ford] at the end of it,” said Spielberg of his plans for the film in a June 2016 interview.
While attending the opening of Disneyland’s Star Wars theme park in June, Ford indicated that he expects filming on the still-untitled Indiana Jones sequel to begin at some point in 2020.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he told Variety. “Things are coming along well.”
Previously, Spielberg indicated that filming would begin in April 2019 in the U.K., only for that date to be pushed back indefinitely.
“It’s always worth the trip when I get to work with this deep bench of talent coming out of the U.K.,” he said. “The actor, and the crew, the chippies, the sparks, the drivers — everybody who has helped me make my movies here, and will continue helping me make my movies here, when I come back in April 2019 to make the fifth Indiana Jones movie right here.”
The only confirmed cast member so far is Ford, but Indiana Jones’ next adventure will likely be his last performance as the character.
“This will be Harrison Ford’s last Indiana Jones movie, I am pretty sure, but it will certainly continue after that,” Spielberg told The Sun.
As for who will pick up the fedora after Ford, Spielberg said it’s time the character took “a different form,” and expressed a willingness to cast a female lead in the title role. “We’d have to change the name from ‘Jones’ to ‘Joan,'” he joked. “And there would be nothing wrong with that.”
Various cast members from the four previous films have expressed an interest in returning for the fifth installment of the franchise, but official confirmations have been hard to come by so far.
One thing that’s certain is that Crystal Skull actor Shia LaBeouf will not reprise his role for the new film. LaBeouf played Mutt Williams, Indiana’s son with Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), in 2008’s Crystal Skull.
“Harrison plays Indiana Jones, that I can certainly say,” said Koepp in September 2017. “And the Shia LaBeouf character is not in the film.”
Franchise actor John Rhys-Davies told Digital Spy in February 2016 that he’d be up for reprising his role as Sallah in the next film if the character had a “meaningful” role to play in the film. He previously declined a role in Crystal Skull due to the nature of the character’s proposed part in that film.
Karen Allen also indicated she hopes to have a role in the new film for her franchise character, Marion, who appeared in both Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Crystal Skull.
Five-time Academy Award winner John Williams composed the score for all four films in the series up to this point and will reprise that role for the fifth installment of the franchise. Spielberg confirmed Williams’ involvement in June 2016 at an event held by the American Film Institute honoring Williams.
— Scott Mantz (@MovieMantz) June 10, 2016
Williams will look to replicate the success he had with the first three Indiana Jones movies, which each earned Academy Award nominations for their score. That run ended with the much-maligned fourth film, which did not receive a nomination.
Updated on June 16, 2020: Added that David Koepp is no longer writing the screenplay.