Apparently, fandom has a reading comprehension problem.
That's not a particularly nice thing to say, but based on the way people continue to report information about a possible fifth Indiana Jones film, it must be true. It's the only explanation.
Let's look at the facts. When Disney bought Lucasfilm, Indiana Jones was one of the assets that they purchased. But Indy is a very different thing than “Star Wars,' and it always has been. “Star Wars” is more than just a single story, and it's more than a particular set of characters. In recent years, shows like “The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars: Rebels” have shown just how ready the audience is to welcome new characters into their hearts, and that theory will be put to the test in a major way with “The Force Awakens” next week. Will Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren find themselves embraced by fandom as worthy new additions to the larger saga, or are we due for a tsunami of backlash like we experienced in 1999?
Personally, I think “The Force Awakens” is going to be something special. I've heard enough now and talked to enough people who have seen things or worked on it that I know that the film comes from a place of genuine love and passion. If it doesn't work, it won't be for lack of trying. They've put as much brainpower as they possibly could to work on the project, and they've approached it from a place where story and character is everything.
For the past year and a half, every time I've read a story about Indiana Jones, it has been filled with speculation and no fact. Every single report you've read about the recasting of Indiana Jones and the all the lists of actor's names and all the talk about Chris Pratt having the part? Nonsense and fiction. Period. None of it is true, and none of it has anything to do with the actual plans that Disney and Lucasfilm have. They have not met with Chris Prat. They have not met with anyone. They haven't had any meetings because they aren't casting a movie. They aren't casting the movie because they haven't written a movie because they aren't making the movie.
It got old running the same piece of information over and over, but now that Kathleen Kennedy has restated it in a new Hollywood Reporter interview, it's worth emphasizing one last time so I can just run this story link every time some fan site writes about how they're going to “pass the torch” to Chris Pratt.
No, they're not.
“Raiders Of The Lost Ark” is a special film for Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Kathleen Kennedy. That's the film where she first worked with the filmmakers who have, in many ways, defined her entire career. She was the perfect choice to take control of Lucasfilm, and everyone who has worked with her over the last three years has said that she is both forward thinking and incredibly smart about the legacy of the company. That's a rare combination, and when she was asked about “Indiana Jones 5” by Kim Masters, she had this to say:
“We're all trying to figure out when the right time is to step back in. Harrison really wants to do it; Steven really wants to do it. We've kicked around a couple of story ideas, but beyond that, I don't know yet. I think there will be one, we'll certainly move forward with Indy. But right now, everybody's just focused on 'Star Wars'.”
Okay. I want you to read that paragraph as many times as it takes before it sinks in and you actually believe what she's telling you. Because it's the truth. There's no game being played. She's not trying to mislead you. That is a direct and honest answer. Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg both have to sign off on anything that's going to happen with the next Indiana Jones film, and Harrison Ford has every intention of playing the part again when that happens. Not in a wrap-around segment. Not just as an introduction. But for the entire film. He is Indiana Jones, and that's the way it's going to be as long as he's mobile. You know what you didn't read in that paragraph? Any mention of “passing the torch” in any way.
I've heard enough fanboys get belligerent about “yeah, but look at the James Bond movies” that I feel like it needs to be stated clearly. Indiana Jones is not James Bond. “But the whole reason Steven Spielberg wanted to make these was because they wouldn't let him make a James Bond film because he's not British!” you say. Yes, that's true. “They even cast Sean Connery as his father because get it because he's James Bond and get it he's his father?” Yes, I also understand that. But Indiana Jones is not James Bond, no matter what trivia you want to throw at me. The “Young Indiana Jones” series was an interesting attempt by Lucas to create a history-oriented TV series that used his character to illuminate actual historical figures. And the opening segment of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” was a delightful bonus, a showcase for that deadly-accurate impression that River Phoenix did of Harrison Ford. But as far as the feature films go, there's only been one real Indiana Jones so far, and that will continue to be the case.
And when Kennedy says, “Right now, we're all just focused on 'Star Wars',” that's also true. They are not working on Indiana Jones. No one is writing it. No one is secretly putting the film together and just not telling you about it. It's not happening. There is no “Indiana Jones 5” right now. There is the vague idea that they'd like to make one, but beyond that, it's a non-story. So every single time you see someone try to pump up some innocuous comment into a story about what they're doing, you can now dismiss that story and that reporting. Just brush it off.
Here's what is starting to really eat at me in a way that I can barely articulate. I understand when someone who is a fan of something wants to write a piece saying, “You know what I wish I could see?” By all means, do that. Share your hopes and your dreams about the things you want. But when I see fans writing “news stories” that are simply their wishes disguised as “news,” it bothers me, and it bothers me because so much of what passes as “news” these days is an elaborate game of telephone where people reprint information as fact so many times that it becomes accepted as fact, no matter how little resemblance to the truth it actually bears.
I read no less than four different news stories about the Kathleen Kennedy piece in which they referred to her direct quote saying there is no movie in the works right now, and not only did they all completely miscategorize her comments, but they all also made mention of how this next film will see Indy passing the torch to Chris Pratt.
That. Is. Not. Happening.
Do you understand?
That. Is. NOT. Happening.
Simply repeating it over and over in print will not make it happen. What it will do is create massive confusion among fandom, because they will read it over and over, and then when it doesn't happen, the story will become, “Chris Pratt got screwed when they took Indiana Jones away from him.” And that also will be completely untrue. When a lie is repeated enough times that fandom doesn't understand it's a lie, it becomes a weird sort of half-truth, an accepted falsehood, and there are few things that disturb me more about this business.
I already have to accept that there are more people writing about movies who come to the table as fans with no practical experience on or around the film industry. But more than ever, that near-total lack of understanding of the way things actually work and their inability to reach out to anyone in a position to tell them facts about things is resulting in a sloppier, more fiction-oriented news landscape, and fans swallow it all without questioning the origin.
This has gone way past mere irritation at this point. In a world where fans who don't know any better accept the blatant lunacy of a site like MoviePilot as being equal to an outlet like The Hollywood Reporter in terms of accuracy, it's almost pointless to worry about what is or isn't true.
Except I do worry about it. And for nearly 20 years now, I have done my very best to separate truth from rumor for you. I've gotten it wrong on occasion, but I've done so while doing the legwork to run these stories down and try to get as close to the origin of them as I can. And in some cases, I can tell you with 100% confidence that something either is or isn't true.
So please stop talking about them passing the torch or recasting Indiana Jones. There will be “Indy 5” news soon enough. And when there is, you can be sure that the man wearing the hat and holding the whip will be the same one who has done it every time so far.
Just let them finish “Star Wars” first… okay?
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will be screening for audiences in a week. Holy crap.