At some point in the last decade, a fifth Indiana Jones film evolved from idle talk into something we were eventually going to get whether we liked it or not. Rumblings about the film stretch back to before Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out and killed any hopes we had that a fifth film would be worth it in the process. Story possibilities have ranged from Indy’s son Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) taking up the bullwhip to megastar Chris Pratt slipping on the fedora and carrying on the franchise with a prequel series. At times, the film felt like a myth. After, Crystal Skull plenty of Indy fans seemed happy to let it stay that way.
Then Disney bought Lucasfilm, which owns the rights to the character and Indy 5 seemed inevitable.
Eventually, the studio settled on the classic pairing of Steven Spielberg as director and Harrison Ford as star. A release date of July 2019 was set but even that felt so far away at the time that you could pretend the film was still merely a faraway dream. Today, Disney and Lucasfilm reaffirmed their commitment to Indy.
Lucasfilm revealed that Indy 5 will come out on July 10, 2020 in a press release that also announced that Star Wars: Episode IX will be moving up from December 2019 to May 2019. There’s a year delay so the legendary director can finish up some other projects (including the much-anticipated Ready Player One and a film about The Pentagon Papers with best buddy Tom Hanks) but Spielberg and Ford remain committed and the flick is in prime summer movie season.
So, Disney has made this a truth we will eventually have to confront: Indiana Jones and the Search for the Social Security Check is coming. Ford will be just shy of his 78th birthday when the film is released but his ability to appear nimble and virile onscreen as a septuagenarian isn’t really the issue. Ford proved with Star Wars: The Force Awakens that he’s still every bit the movie star, oozing screen presence even if he doesn’t dash through action sequences quite as fast. And anyway, the point of Indiana Jones has never been that he can pull off crazy stunts like a fedora-wearing Jason Statham (Side Note: Please make a Jason Statham ass-kicking archaeologist movie now.). He’s a guy who’s always supposed to be in over his head, so Ford’s age is not the problem here.
No, the problem with Indy 5 has always been Indy 4, an unconcealable blemish on the face of an otherwis- great franchise. No one really questions that Raiders of the Lost Ark is the best of the series but even with the diminishing returns of the second and third film it always still felt like you were watching the same world. Crystal Skull took the heightened, Saturday matinee-inspired reality of the original trilogy and ran it off the rails into the land of caricature – aliens, nuked fridges and all. Plus, huge box office take aside, the film’s reception from fans has not mellowed with age. It’s been nearly a decade, and people are still raw about how far the flick took Indy into the land of the ridiculous.
Indy 5 is almost guaranteed to make a killing but given all we know about the last attempt to revive this franchise, should we have any hope of a good fifth installment? Yes, because Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy is steering the ship now, and Disney’s footing the bill.
Kennedy’s been a part of the Indy franchise (and Spielberg’s filmography in general) since Raiders and her work at Lucasfilm so far has been (pun intended) stellar. She’s released two Star Wars feature films so far and to call them both hits would be a massive understatement. star Wars is huge again, not just with ticket buyers but with fans who were burned three consecutive times by the prequel films. That’s in large part thanks to Kennedy’s leadership and her intimate knowledge of Spielberg, Ford and Indiana Jones as a franchise means that she can deliver a home run. Plus, as you may have noticed, Disney has become the place for making beloved old things new again in the past decade or so. They got Star Wars right (so far) and their live-action remakes of animated classics are lavishly produced technological wonders treated with all the reverence of beloved Disney icons. They will roll this flick out with all the flair and splendor of a coronation, only with a fedora instead of a crown.
So, have faith in Indiana Jones, or at least take comfort in the fact that you have three whole years until your hopes are dashed.