Fans of Indiana Jones are some of the most dedicated in film. Some remember catching the first release, Raiders of the Lost Ark,in 1981, while others started with the most recent reboot in 2008, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and then worked backward through the series.
Regardless, there’s one thought on every Indy fan’s mind: will the mythic fifth installation ever see the light of day? The 2008 project failed to meet fan expectations, but some have stuck around to see how George Lucas, the story’s creator, will end Indiana Jones’s long run as depicted by Harrison Ford.
Since Crystal Skull, other concerns have surfaced. Though filming for the new movie began in June 2021 according to Walt Disney Studio, and both Lucas and Steven Spielberg are involved in some capacity, not everyone believes that the movie’s June 30, 2023, release date will hold after being rescheduled three times.
In addition to troubles rounding out the story and finishing Indy’s adventures with a satisfying arc, the film has seen directorial and production turnovers. And then, of course, there’s the fact that Ford is now 79 years old—for the 2023 release, he’ll be just shy of his 81st birthday.
Harrison Ford is officially signed on, and Spielberg is producing the film, but will the fifth and final installation be worthy of the franchise’s early glory?
Building on an Original Formula
One of the toughest aspects of creating another riveting spectacle like the 1981 original release (and the blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1989), has been the adventure genre itself. Following his work with Star Wars, Lucas pivoted to focus on a scholarly type of hero who raided ancient temples out of academic curiosity before being pulled into perilous, wild escapades.
The formula was incredibly successful. It branched away from powerful superheroes and futuristic tech, added a splash of intellect, and then used the lens of anthropology to introduce unique scenarios (however unrealistic). Since then, other projects from The Mummy to National Treasure to The Goonies have found great success.
Even smaller projects, like slots at casinos, have covered adventurous anthropologists looking for their next great discovery. For example, a few of the best online slots include titles like Temple Rumble, as well as games that sound eerily similar to a few Indiana Jones movies.
These include Rich Wilde and the Book of the Dead, as well as John Hunter and the Tomb of the Scarab Queen. None are officially related to Indiana Jones, but the theme has proved popular and recognizable for gamers. And now that the Indy-theme has been played out across a range of media, it makes creating a new spectacle for the fifth installation even more difficult.
A Fandom Divided
There are three main divides when it comes to diehard Indiana Jones fans and their expectations of the fifth movie. One group feels that it’s not too late for the film to recorrect the 2008 reboot’s misdirection, and that Lucas and Spielberg’s limited participation will help breathe new life into the series.
Another segment of Indy fandom is cautiously hopeful about the next release, balancing the fact that Ford’s age will make some things impossible with the idea that the production team will pull out all the stops for one last push.
The last group feels the fifth Indiana Jones film will be about fan service more than substance. In other words, the project will focus on paying tribute to the first two films and build on aspects fans loved—from the minecart sequence to Young Indy in The Last Crusade. By catering to franchise fans, the fifth film can skirt gaping plot holes and an aging, unconvincing lead.
But all three groups share a stance on at least one fact: the film has to wrap, then make it through production and editing. And many are still crossing their fingers the 2023 release date won’t be pushed back—again.