Once Disney bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas, they rapidly began working on as many of their new intellectual property-haul, as possible. Since then, we’ve had a new Star Wars film (Force Awakens), several Star Wars Stories in the pipeline, and a 5th Indiana Jones movie. What do all these have in common, outside of the obvious?
None of these movies are getting any input from George Lucas.
In an interview with Collider.com, Screenwriter David Koepp pulled back the curtain on the writing process for Indiana Jones 5. When asked if George Lucas had been involved in the story process, Koepp replied,
“He’s not, to my knowledge. I’ve had no contact with him.”
That’s a pretty shocking discovery when you consider Lucas’ involvement with the entire series. In fact, he’s been there from the beginning. Through good movies and bad, Lucas had a hand in all four movies. Lucas was even the one who insisted the plot of Crystal Skull be in the 1950s and about aliens. So, you have him to thank. Instead, Koepp is collaborating with his long-time colleague, Steven Spielberg, who is also set to direct the movie with Harrison Ford starring.
Since purchasing all of his property, Disney has kept a pretty good distance from themselves and Lucas. They even disregarded Lucas’ initial outline of Episode VII, in favor of an original story. Despite his legendary status of story-telling, Lucas’ films hadn’t really panned out well with viewers since the release of Episode I – A Phantom Menace. It only makes sense that they keep him at arms-length and focus on original stories, they believe will work.
When asked what he learned from writing the critically-abused Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull movie, Koepp said,
“I think that what [Indy] looks for and when he looks for it dictates what the movie’s gonna be. So the selection of the MacGuffin is everything. I think Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, being set in 1957 there was a conscious desire to say, ‘Much like two of the other ones were World War II movies set in the 30s and early 40s, this is ’57 so a lot of our influences are gonna be science-fiction movies.’ You got that with the original [script], Jeb Stuart took the first shot at it with Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars. That was a really conscious decision that dictated a lot about what the story would be and what the movie would be like, and I think that was followed through on really nicely. I thought Steve did a really good job with that. I don’t know that the idea was most suited to an Indiana Jones movie, but that was what we did. So we tried to be very careful with the selection of the MacGuffin and the eras to give ourselves as much latitude to make the best kind of Indiana Jones movie that we most want to see. Learning how that’s the importance of the choice of the MacGuffin is a big deal.”
It’s true what he says, The MacGuffin, meaning the artifact, is what Koepp and Spielberg need to focus on trying to base the story around. It’s what has made most of the Indiana Jones movies such a success. As for what it will be in the 5th go around, we’ll have to wait and see since Koepp isn’t spilling the beans.
Indiana Jones 5 is set to release July 19, 2019, with George Lucas serving only as Executive Producer.