UPDATED BELOW: It’s one of modern Disney’s great cinematic crusades: making a fifth film in the ever-popular “Indiana Jones” franchise. Despite middling response to the series’ last edition, 2008’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” Lucasfilm, Disney, and many of the series’ biggest names have continued to chatter about creating yet another entry. A few elements have always remained stable, from promises that Harrison Ford will always be Indy or that franchise director Steven Spielberg will always helm the sequels.
At least one of those things, it seems, is changing in a big way, as Variety reports that Spielberg will now pass directorial control of the franchise to filmmaker James Mangold instead. Sources tell Variety that the deal is not yet finalized, but that the “Ford v Ferrari” and “Wolverine” director “is in talks to take the job.” The outlet also reports that “Spielberg will remain as a hands-on producer on [and] according to a source close to the filmmaker, the decision to leave the director’s chair was entirely Spielberg’s, in a desire to pass along Indy’s whip to a new generation to bring their perspective to the story.”
The last film in the series cast Shia LaBeouf as Indiana’s long-lost son, and seemed to be aiming for that same idea, a freshening of the story for a “new generation.” The film even ended with a sight gag that saw LaBeouf’s character Mutt attempting to snatch up his dear old dad’s iconic hat, which Ford promptly snatched away. A decade later, are fans ready for yet another new spin for a younger generation?
For fans of Ford, not to fear: the actor remains attached to the project, and though he has recently said that the film is due to start production in just a couple of months, this new hitch in its long road to the big screen may change that plan. It won’t be the first time: when Disney announced its plan for a new Indy feature in 2016, the film was given an opening date of July 19, 2019, which was soon pushed to July 10, 2020, and then pushed yet again to July 9, 2021.
This latest iteration includes a script mostly recently rewritten by Jonathan Kasdan (son of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” scribe Lawrence Kasdan), taking over from original screenwriter David Koepp.
Spielberg is currently putting the finishing touches on his much-anticipated holiday release of “West Side Story,” while Mangold has a number of new projects in the works, including his recently announced Timothee Chalamet-starring Bob Dylan biopic.
UPDATE: Jonathan Kasdan shared Deadline’s story regarding Mangold’s rumored hiring to his own Twitter account, a seeming confirmation of the original Variety story.
IndieWire has reached out to Disney and Lucasfilm for comment.