It appears that Disney and Lucasfilm’s plans for the Indiana Jones franchise go far beyond one more movie. While Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull kind of proved that this was a franchise better left alone, we learned in March that director Steven Spielberg and star Harrison Ford are indeed reuniting for Indiana Jones 5, with the film set for release in July 2019. Now, given the fact that Ford will be 77 years old by the time this movie is released, one might reasonably assume this is his last go-around with the character—after all, a guy can only lead an action-adventure franchise for so long, even if you are Harrison Ford.
However, given that Lucasfilm owns the Indiana Jones franchise and that Disney owns Lucasfilm, one might also reasonably assume that the Mouse House has bigger plans in store for such a lucrative IP. Just last month, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that Indiana Jones 5 is only just the beginning:
“Right now, we’re focused on a reboot, or a continuum and then a reboot of some sort…We’ll bring [Ford] back, then we have to figure out what comes next. That’s what I mean. It’s not really a reboot, it’s a boot — a reboot. I don’t know.”
If Iger was a bit confused on the terminology here, the folks running the story department at Lucasfilm are decidedly not. Earlier today at Star Wars Celebration Europe, a panel was held called “The Art of Storytelling”, which shone a light on the Lucasfilm Story Group, which serves to spearhead the overarching storytelling of the entire Star Wars franchise, keeping the canon straight for the films, TV series, comic books, etc. But Lucasfilm isn’t just Star Wars, and during the panel—for which Collider’s own Perri Nemiroff was in attendance—ILM President Lynwen Brennan made a curious note with regards to the Indiana Jones movies when speaking about the Story Group’s work on the Star Wars franchise:
“Kiri [Hart] and her group have mapped out a story and timeline across multiple platforms many years in advance, many exhausting years in advance. … We have a great honor to have responsibility for, so we want to be really careful with that. Not only for Star Wars but with Indiana Jones, which we’re all really excited about as well.”
Brennan seems to suggest here that the Story Group—which comes up with and runs the story development for the Star Wars “episodes” and standalone films and how they all fit together—is also coming up with long-term story plans for Indiana Jones. Does this mean we’re getting an interconnected Indiana Jones movie universe a la Star Wars, with proper sequels and then standalone films set within the Indy universe? Or does this simply mean they’re getting a head start on connecting the franchise across various platforms, from movies to video games to TV spinoffs?
At this point, we don’t know for sure, and given that the script for Indiana Jones 5 isn’t even written yet, things could certainly change. But it’s definitely curious—and promising—to know that the very talented Lucasfilm Story Group is serving as caretaker of the Indiana Jones universe, and it’s not hard to image Spielberg’s longtime producer Kathleen Kennedy (now President of Lucasfilm) coming to the filmmaker with the prospect of him directing one final Indiana Jones movie to kick off a new franchise.
My guess? The Story Group is running with whatever plans Spielberg has for Indiana Jones 5 and also brainstorming potential ways to extend the franchise without rebooting it entirely and forsaking all that came before. Whether that means sequels like Indiana Jones and the Return of Mutt or prequels that delve deeper into Jones’ backstory remains to be seen, but one thing’s for certain: the Indiana Jones franchise is far from complete.