In a move that should be a surprise to absolutely no one, Walt Disney Studios have acquired the rights to any future Indiana Jones movies, while Paramount Pictures will still own the first four movies. This has been pending since Lucasfilm was first purchased by Disney, but the rights to Indiana Jones have been separate and a complicated negotiation. Much like the Marvel deal, Paramount will continue to have a financial stake in any future Indiana Jones films, but as a silent partner.
Right now, Disney’s full attention is obviously focused on “Star Wars Episode VII.” After the amount of money they spent getting hold of the rights in the first place, it could be argued that there is no more important film for the studio to get right in the immediate future. The pressure on JJ Abrams must be enormous, and for Kathleen Kennedy, her future as the president of Lucasfilm Ltd. depends on her ability to manage the assets of the studio in a way that makes Disney feel like they’re squeezing everything out of it that they can.
One thing should be immediately clear: they will make more Indiana Jones movies. No question about it. But what does that mean when Harrison Ford is in his 70s? Well, based on what we’ve been hearing now for the last few months, there will be at least one more bigscreen Indy adventure, and Ford seems to be the one pushing the hardest to make it happen. If sources are correct, this deal came together now because it had to in order to get Ford to sign on to reprise the Han Solo role in the “Star Wars” sequels, something he was not interested in doing at first. How crucial a role is he playing in the “Star Wars” films? Enough that they’re preparing to move a full-sized Millennium Falcon to Pinewood Studios.
So if the Indiana Jones movie is the carrot on the stick to get Ford to play Han Solo again, we should expect a fairly passionate final outing for Indy, right? Because even if they do make another film with him soon-ish, there’s no way they’re going to keep making them. Would Disney put together a deal like this if they only planned to make one film? Not a chance. So you know what that means, right?
That’s correct: reboot. And while I have reached the point where I feel like I should set up a way to just insert the word “reboot” into a news story with a single keystroke to save myself some time, I don’t immediately hate the prospect. Some properties are simply more elastic than others, and Indiana Jones is a character who could support a series of films that show us brand new adventures from his long and dangerous career.
But let’s be clear: only truly deranged and damaged people would take something as rich with potential as Indiana Jones and then just remake the movies that already exist. “Raiders Of The Lost Ark,” “Temple Of Doom,” and “The Last Crusade” should all be considered canon, and if you’re going to make new movies, then do it in a way that works around those films, not that tries to replace them. Because Indy’s adventures all stand alone as he chases various artifacts around the world, you don’t have to just focus on those three points in time. It’s a unique opportunity, and there’s even precedent. After all, Indy has been played by at least five different actors so far, including Ford, at different points in the life of the character.
It’s too early to start seriously talking about who will pick up the hat and the whip because if there’s a Ford film first, we’re looking at something that can’t happen until at least 2018 or 2019. I’ll say this, though… the most out-of-the-box name I’ve seen go by on Twitter so far was “New Girl” star Jake Johnson, and while that sounds batshit crazy at first, there is something about it that I can’ t shake. Indy isn’t just a cookie-cutter action hero, which is why he’s so much fun to watch, and I hope that when they finally get to the point where they’re casting the role, they cast a wide net and they’re not afraid of any idea.
“Star Wars Episode VII” will bring Han Solo back to life in theaters everywhere on December 18, 2015.
We will have more on this story shortly….