After overseeing the production of four movies in the Indiana Jones franchise, the legendary Steven Spielberg will not be returning to direct the upcoming fifth installment, Variety revealed today. According to the report, James Mangold (Logan, Ford v Ferrari) is in talks to take over.
Spielberg, who was involved in a lengthy development process for the highly-anticipated project, is said to be staying on as "a hands-on producer," his decision not to direct promoted by "a desire to pass along Indy’s whip to a new generation to bring their perspective to the story," writes Variety.
Harrison Ford is still returning to play the titular professor/adventurer. He recently admitted that filming is set to take place in just a few months.
This news comes as a genuine shock since Spielberg has been synonymous with the series ever since Raiders of the Lost Ark first hit theaters in the summer of 1981. The iconic property is said to have been conceived while the Oscar-winning filmmaker and George Lucas built sand castles in Hawaii shortly after the release of the first Star Wars movie in 1977.
Lucas wanted to pay homage to the adventure serials of his youth, while Spielberg had always dreamed of making a globe-trotting James Bond film. When combined, these ambitions became Henry Jones Jr., a college teacher/archaeologist who seeks ancient and mystical artifacts across the world in his spare time.
It's crazy to think that Spielberg would simply hand over the creative reigns to someone else after all this time, especially since this could be the last Indiana Jones with Ford in the main role.
Mangold broke out big on the genre radar with Hugh Jackman's Wolverine sendoff Logan, and scored some mainstream critical acclaim with Ford v Ferrari last year. The former became the first comic book movie in history to score a Best Adapted Screenplay nod at the Oscars.
The first three Indy films (Raiders, Temple of Doom, and Last Crusade) were all released throughout the 1980s. The fourth entry, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, arrived nearly two decades later. Despite trying to set up Shia LaBeouf as the next person to wield the famous whip and fedora, Crystal Skull wasn't greatly received by fans. Nevertheless, it was still a box office success with nearly $800 million worldwide.
Disney acquired the franchise rights in 2012 when it bought Lucasfilm for a little over $4 billion. The Mouse House announced a fifth outing in 2016, but the project kept being pushed to later dates. Chris Pratt was even rumored to be considered as Ford's replacement for a reboot at one point, but that never really picked up any steam.
At this moment, Indy 5 is still scheduled to hit theaters on July 9, 2021. With Spielberg no longer attached, however, it's very likely that the opening will be pushed once again.
Jonathan Kasdan, son of Raiders scribe Lawrence Kasdan, is writing the screenplay, which was originally being penned by Crystal Skull vet, David Koepp.