Article originally posted on the website abnersjournal.com, your source for all Indiana Jones 5 news, rumors, and fan-fiction, you can read it here
WELCOME to the first episode of an ongoing series that will act as a weekly update for all rumors and speculation on Indiana Jones 5.
As of right now news is slow. Until more concrete information develops lets take some time and ponder the direction the film could take. Feel free to discuss the weekly episode over in the Forum and remember... anything goes.
INDY FIVE : THE REBOOT AWAKENS
EPISODE 1 : DO OR DO NOT
MARCH 20, 2015
"WE'RE PACING OURSELVES." Those are the words of Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney, when asked recently by Variety about a new Indiana Jones film. Since the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney in December of 2012, the powers that be have been mum about the future of the iconic character.
"LEAVE IT ALONE." That seems to be the phrase muttered by a lot of fans these days. After the bad taste left in their mouths from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, they feel that any new film, especially without a young Harrison Ford, would further tarnish the character.
When I hear fans talk like this I immediately start hearing Bruce Springsteen singing "Glory Days" in my ear, and I feel a little part of my heart break for them. First of all, Crystal Skull is not a bad film. It's not the best of the series, might be the worst, but it is not bad (I won't spend my time going over why I like the movie here. Maybe later. In the meantime check out these articles here and here and here). But even if I did hate the film, I don't believe it could ever tarnish the character for me. I don't like the Star Wars prequels, some people do and I understand that, but those films will never change the way I feel about the original trilogy or characters. Whatever they do with the future films, I will always have those old ones, nothing can take that away. Second, I love the Indiana Jones character and environments enough to want to see them explored in further films, with or without Harrison. I've gotten past this sense of nostalgia, this idea that my childhood will be ruined, and if you are scared of that, here's an idea... just don't watch the new ones. Seems pretty simple. Then you'll be safe and you can lay your head down on your Empire Strikes Back pillowcase at night and sleep soundly knowing your childhood remains secure. I, for one, welcome the chance to return to the universe of these films, without expectation, but with pure enjoyment in mind.
Let's come to terms with it then, Disney will soon put in production a new Indiana Jones film. It will happen, they didn't spend all that money to buy the property just to watch it collect dust. Once Star Wars gets going, they will green-light Indy 5. It's a fact. So let's stop complaining and start discussing ways that the film could actually be successful from a fan's point of view and from Disney's point of view. For the first episode of the "Reboot Awakens" I wanted to throw out a few Do's and Don'ts that I think Disney should follow when making the film. In future episodes I will elaborate on some of the points discussed today (once again head over to the Forum to discuss the weekly episode, tell me whether or not you think I'm a complete idiot or that I'm on the right track).
BOX OFFICE BABY, IT'S BIGGER THAN THE STONES
Fortune and glory. Unfortunately it is more fortune than glory that seems to be driving the movie industry today. Still, as much as Disney wants to make money, they are playing it smart by placing these franchises in the hands of individuals that lead by vision over the almighty dollar. I am sure Indiana Jones will get the same careful treatment. But will the black-hole pull of the box office still sway the creative process? I think it will. Is it such a bad thing? It doesn't have to be.
Disney wants to get as much out of the Indiana Jones character as they can. That means sequels, toys, games and so on and so forth. Nothing Paramount wasn't trying to do in the 1980's. They will probably look at a few successful franchises as models for the series. Definitely Star Wars, but I also think that Marvel's Avengers and The Hunger Games series will have a huge influence on the new Indiana Jones. This basically boils down to two concepts, creating a cinematic universe and appealing to a younger audience.
As far as creating a cinematic universe, Disney needs to establish memorable characters and environments around Indiana Jones. The universe that already exists is perfect for this. The world of tomb raiders and globetrotters has endless potential to bring in captivating characters that have depth with a touch of mystery. The trick would be picking out those characters that would work in their own stand alone film. Another possibility, one that I explore in my scripts Rebels of the Underworld and The Hellfire Club, is taking an organization that exists within the universe and expanding on that. For instance, the Indiana Jones timeline says that Indy was hired to teach at London University in 1925, his first teaching position. Now you have the perfect set up, you have Indiana in London, teaching, pursuing artifacts in his free time. I imagine that at some point the Royal Geographical Society, located in London, comes calling for help. Indy assists them on an expedition, maybe searching for an explorer, a Percy Fawcett type, that went missing somewhere in the jungles of South America searching for a lost city. Little does Indy know that within the Society there exists a secret club, known as the Hellfire Club, that explores the darkest, most remote places on earth. Now you have the opportunity to expand the universe by following the adventures of this mysterious group.
To appeal to a younger audience Disney might want to cast a younger actor as Indy. Harrison Ford was 38 when he made Raiders which took place in 1936. Before anyone flips out on me, let me explain a few things. Casting a younger actor, let's say one in his late twenties, early thirties gives you a number of opportunities. First, it lessens the comparison to Ford. The actor would be seen more as a bridge between River Phoenix and Ford, then a replacement of Ford.
It would also allow you to flesh out some of the character's backstory, his relationship with his mentor Abner Ravenwood and his love affair with Marion. Three or four films could be made before you even get to the events of Temple of Doom, then at that point the events of those original films could be interlaced with the new films.
The age of the character is a tricky thing though. Too young and you lose that idea of a "man" that Indy has come to represent on film over the years. Too old and you lose the chance to make a catalogue of films with the actor. You want an actor that can play the part for many years to come, one that we as an audience can grow old with. If you cast an actor that is already close to forty, you would have to recast after a few films. My personal opinion, you don't want to keep recasting if you can get around it, that can exhaust the property quickly like in the case of the Spider-Man and James Bond films.
WHERE IS THE SPECTACLE?
I recently sent my script Indiana Jones and the Stone of Destiny ( which you can read here) out to a website that is well-known for reviewing screenplays. My script was read by a lot of individuals that frequent the site. Reading some of the comments about the script I came to a realization. Everyone wanted to read Raiders of the Lost Ark. It turns out I had a big problem, I had not written Raiders, and I even deviated from the formula in places as well. Disney, when rebooting the franchise, will have to deal with a lot of these questions. How much of the formula do you keep? How many callbacks to the prior films do you use? How much spectacle is the right amount of spectacle? In a nutshell, how do you remove yourself from the shadow that is Raiders of the Lost Ark?
The answer is, you don't, you can't, don't even try. Just write an entertaining film. My philosophy is that formulas become stale after awhile, predictable. Play with the model, shake things up. Have a story arc that lasts for three films. I think that would be fantastic. What better way for a franchise that is based on the classic cliffhangers to actually have one that ends on a cliffhanger. If Disney wants to make a number of films with this franchise they might want to think about steering away from the formula at times or risk becoming dull.
For me "callbacks" to prior films are fun, but they can quickly become distracting I would limit the number or make them less obvious. Crystal Skull had too many for me, where the scenes eventually started coming across as "camp" more than anything else.
Another idea is spectacle. There is a famous story about Spielberg who upon seeing the boulder for Raiders for the first time asked if they could make it bigger. Is bigger always better? Do you have to come up with action scenes that one-up the previous film? I don't think you do.
Disney should take a different outlook and go back to basics. Take a page out of JJ Abrams' book who realized the mistake of the Star Wars prequels is that bigger isn't always better. Learn to scale down. Raiders worked so well because the script's absurdities stopped just short of exhausting the audience. A small stunt like jumping from a moving horse to a truck can have a much more lasting effect than a large scale battle scene with CGI soldiers and destruction. Simple action, artfully done. A car chase can become something unusual when done with craft and love, just look at Scarface (1932) or The French Connection (1971).
No CGI at all, practical effects. Film on location. Build large sets. Use the old tricks that harken back to the epic films of the Golden Age of Cinema. We, as fans, want that, and I think we've shelled out enough money to get it.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Join Abner's Journal next week for EPISODE 2 : A TIME AND PLACE, where we take a closer look at the possible time frame and location of the next Indiana Jones film.