It took 19 years for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to come together, and based on the reception that it generated among the fanbase, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas may as well never have bothered. The fourth entry in the beloved franchise remains one of the most divisive blockbusters ever made, and it seems unlikely that it will undergo any sort of reappraisal in the future.
During the torturous development process, Jeb Stuart, Jeffrey Boam, M. Night Shyamalan, Tom Stoppard, Stephen Gaghan, Frank Darabont and Jeff Nathanson all took a crack at the script, with Crystal Skull eventually being credited to David Koepp. It may have earned over $790 million at the box office, but longtime fans absolutely tore it apart, and haven’t changed their minds in the dozen years since.
Nevertheless, Indiana Jones 5 was officially announced in 2016 and now appears to facing many of the same troubles. The latest installment is currently scheduled for a July 2022 release, but there’s virtually no chance of that happening when the screenplay is nowhere near ready. Steven Spielberg dropped out of the director’s chair and was replaced by James Mangold, while Dan Fogelman is currently on scripting duties after Koepp and Jake Kasdan both bowed out.
In a recent interview, Koepp admitted that one of the reasons he left the project was that nobody can seem to get on the same page about the story, with so many different voices all having to come to an agreement before the final draft gets the green light.
“I tried a couple different versions with Steven and they all had some good stuff about them and they all had some stuff that didn’t work, which happens. But it was just very hard to have everybody come together and have all the elements like Steven, Harrison, the script, and Disney, come together at once. And it didn’t. When James Mangold came in and Steven stepped out, that was a pretty logical breaking point. It’s a gracious time to step out the door because I think the last thing a new director wants is the old director’s writer. I mean, that’s a drag. The last thing you need is some guy sitting around with his arms folded saying, ‘Well, the way Steven would have done it is…’. I had one nice friendly conversation with him, and then I’m sure he wanted to be able to move on anyway. Everybody was pretty polite, I thought.”
At this point, Harrison Ford is going to be at least 80 years old by the time Indiana Jones 5 eventually hits theaters, and based on the reception to Crystal Skull and the lack of Spielberg behind the camera, the jury is out on whether or not another long-delayed sequel will even be worth the effort and investment.