Much to the chagrin of true fans like me, Disney has announced via press release that it will release a fifth and hopefully final installation of the billion dollar Indiana Jones franchise. Harrison Ford will be reprising his role as the adventure-seeking archaeologist, and my only wish is that Disney seals his fate in the same way it decided Captain Solo’s in the latest Star Wars resurrection.
Since the debut of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, the franchise has made over $1.9 billion in ticket sales alone. Disney knows that dusting off the Indy whip and fedora is a surefire way to rake in more millions, regardless of how dismal the film might actually be. Paramount Pictures had the same revelation when the studio made Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008, nearly twenty years after the original trilogy wrapped up production.
Crystal Skull was a box office hit that amassed more than $7 million, but it was also universally panned by critics and fans alike. Enthusiasts had expected much more, especially considering Ford and director Steven Spielberg had said for years they would only consider making another movie if they were presented with a spectacular script. As is often the case, money speaks louder than words, and although it took a while, both Hollywood legends eventually caved after being wooed with very healthy paychecks. Ford earned $65 million for his part in the film, making him the highest paid actor from 2008-2009.
Based on how Disney impressively tackled the seventh Star Wars movie, some will say the new Jones film is in good hands. I beg to differ. The main reason for The Force Awakens’ success can be attributed to the genius and passion of director J.J. Abrams. He revitalized a franchise that had been pulverized by writer/director George Lucas’ prequel catastrophe. Abrams wrote a terrific script and relied primarily on young blood while still paying homage to the original cast. Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, but he tarnished the Indiana legacy with the fourth film, and he will likely tarnish it further by again entrusting an aging Ford to embody the entire picture.
Of course, the trailers will be great. They will feature alluding shots of the hat and whip, and the nostalgic theme music will send fans rushing back to the theaters to watch Indy give it another go. Additionally, Disney knows how to market better than anyone. Within the coming year, don’t be surprised to see Indiana Jones board games and backpacks popping up in a toy store near you. All of this will amount to a huge payday for the production company and a huge letdown for moviegoers who will be duped into spending $14 on a movie that never should have been made.