The bullwhip has officially been passed.
In an unexpected blindside, Steven Spielberg has decided to bow out from directing Indiana Jones 5. Variety reports that his likely successor will be James Mangold (Ford V Ferrari, Logan); negotiations are currently underway. Harrison Ford remains attached to star, and Spielberg will stay on as a producer.
The script by David Koepp (Jurassic Park) and Jonathan Kasdan (son of Lawrence Kasdan, scribe of the original Raiders of the Lost Ark) is also reportedly being tweaked and finalized, per recent interview comments from Ford during his promo campaign for The Call of the Wild.
When asked if the current scheduled release date of July 9, 2021 would be pushed back even further as a result of the director switch, spokespeople for Spielberg and Disney / Lucasfilm declined to comment. (UPDATE: due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Indy 5 is now slated to open on July 29, 2022.)
This feels really weird.
To have a Harrison Ford-led Indy adventure without Steven Spielberg guiding it seems like pop culture sacrilege, although I can certainly appreciate how Spielberg would rather tackle new material with whatever few films he has left in him.
Another likely casualty? John Williams. At his late age, I’d expect the only movie scores he’ll choose to compose moving forward are strictly ones for Spielberg films.
On the plus side, having some new blood involved in this nearly-40 year old franchise does raise the intrigue level — especially with someone like Mangold who’s coasting on a career peak right now — but this series has always been a Ford-and-Spielberg collaboration at its heart.
The fact that they’re negotiating with Mangold must speak to how strongly Ford still wants to make one more, one that would give fans something “they didn’t anticipate.” (See interview clip below.)
I’d honestly prefer a full reboot over this compromise (and have long dreamed of an Aaron Eckhart led trilogy during World War II, with one movie for each Axis power, including a story set in the Pacific theater that could bring back a teenage Short Round), and yet, even after staggering from the strong punch of melancholy that this news dealt, I’ll still be there with giddy anticipation for a Harrison Ford Indy adventure.
Indy famously said, “Trust me,” so I will.