Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Release Date: May 22, 2008

Movie of the Day for Tuesday, September 11, 2007
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The terrorists really are winning.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
18/31 Les Winan It's well-made, the acting is good and it looks pretty. Something of the wit, energy and fun is missing from the first three. Better on second viewing without the weight of expectations.
18/98 David Mumpower Worthy sequel has all the right touches but is clearly inferior to the two best films in the franchise, Raiders and Last Crusade. It's still better than Temple of Doom, but that's not saying much.
20/21 Jason Lee A rather limp and relatively uninspired addition to the Indy franchise.
23/31 John Seal I'm not a big fan of the series, but Crystal Skull is solid entertainment
25/43 Kim Hollis True to the spirit of the series, it's fun even if it's ludicrous.
47/52 Sean Collier The South Park episode? Very, very accurate.
67/196 Max Braden I blame John Williams' aimless score as much for this lackluster installment as any other factor.

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Once upon a time, the biggest action hero in the world took his name after the family dog, Indiana. His adventures set throughout the 1930s and 1940s provided audiences worthwhile, tremendous entertainment. Those exploits proved so popular that they drove sales of a fledgling piece of technology known as the Video Cassette Recorder. Along the way, his movies earned an amount that inflation adjusts to $1.25 billion, an average of $415.2 million. That’s right. The Indiana Jones movies make Spider-Man’s box office look like crap by comparison. One of them, Raiders of the Lost Ark, inflation adjusts to $571.1 million placing it on a par with Titanic…okay, not really since the James Cameron film inflation adjusts to $857 million, but you get the point. We are talking the upper echelons of box office performance. Clearly, the 1980s were good to Harrison Ford.

Fast forward to now.

Harrison Ford is old. He is 65-years-old as I type this, making him six years older than Sean Connery was when he portrayed the elder Professor Jones in 1989. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg put a contingency plan in place on the off chance it took say 20 years for another Indiana Jones movie to film. They introduced then-19-year-old River Phoenix as the teenage version of Indiana Jones, thereby setting him up to eventually succeed Ford in the role when he grew too old. Unfortunately, well, you know. The young man who showed signs of being the finest actor of his generation died at the age of 23. Ergo, the best laid plans fell apart, leaving the legendary producers of Indiana Jones in a tight spot. Spielberg is 61, Lucas is 63, and Sean Connery is 76. Indiana Jones and the Fight for Social Security makes about as much sense as any other possible story these days.

Despite this significant obstacle, Spielberg has pressed on with his vision of seeing closure to the Indiana Jones saga. Whenever progress has been stymied, he has fired a writer and moved on to the next guy. In one instance, that of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade scribe Jeffrey Boam, age and failing health ended his pursuit of the true last crusade, an acceptable script for an Indiana Jones 4. This project has had more screenwriters than some projects have actors. Frighteningly, this is not hyperbole. No fewer than seven different writers have taken a long swing at the script while a few others have proffered suggestions along the way. Currently, War of the Worlds scribe David Koepp is listed as having final credit, but if ever a film took a village, it would be this project.

All hope seemed lost in 2004 when Lucas rejected a script that Spielberg had described as the best since Raiders of the Lost Ark. In 2006, Harrison Ford even set a deadline for his willingness to perform in the project. If principal photography could not begin by 2008, he was out, making the next Indiana Jones movie a full re-boot. While this might not have been a bad idea (only time will tell), Spielberg was insistent on getting the band back together for one last performance. Perhaps due to a healthy dose of holiday cheer, Christmas week of 2006 saw confirmation from multiple sources that Indiana Jones would be grabbing the whip and throwing on the hat for one last outing. Our skepticism at BOP has been healthy, but filming is scheduled to being in two weeks, and we have no choice but to believe it this time. Plot details are of course shrouded in secrecy and even if they were out there, with so many writers having been involved, we wouldn’t necessarily believe anything leaked until there were video evidence supporting it. All that really matters from our perspective is that this project is not vaporware.

What we do know for certain is the cast. Cate Blanchett will join Karen Allen, Kate Capshaw and Alison Doody in the pantheon of Indiana Jones Girls. Also onboard is Disturbia star Shia LaBeouf as Indy’s spunky sidekick, an adult Short Round if you will. Sexy Beast star Ray Winstone is also cast in the movie though there are conflicting reports about whether he’s friend or foe. Sean Connery has also been invited to return, but whether he will is another of the unsolved mysteries of the project. In a nice touch, the afore-mentioned Karen Allen has also been invited back for a cameo as her Raiders of the Lost Ark character, Marion Ravenwood. All in all, this has the potential to be a dream cast for the final installment of a Hollywood icon.

Since its inception in 2001, BOP has a left a light on for Indiana Jones. To our complete and utter surprise, it appears that he will make a final visit after all. (David Mumpower/BOP)

September 14, 2002

Original Indiana Jones 4 write-up:

There are several advantages to being part of a successful film franchise. First of all, there’s the satisfaction of having created characters that so resonate with the audience that they want more and more. The actors generally become instantly recognizable, and often the director and writers become names as well. There’s also the opportunity to go back to the well, as it were, when the need arises.

Which brings us to Indiana Jones 4. Rumored as being greenlighted since late 2002, both Spielberg and Ford confirmed during Ford’s Walk of Fame star ceremony that the film will, in fact, begin shooting in 2004 with a July 2005 targeted release. Since then, it has been announced that the script is nearing completion, and that some characters from the first three films, including some of Jones’ former flames and his dad, will make brief return engagements. All this, of course, comes as wonderful news for the faithful, who seem almost to have willed the fourth installment into being.

But in reality, the willingness of the participants to revisit the franchise probably has as much to do with the relative success they’ve found of late in their film choices as it does with a desire to create a new chapter for a beloved character. Because even when you’re a heavyweight of the caliber of Ford, Spielberg and Lucas, the old Hollywood saw that you’re only as good as your last film still holds true to a surprisingly great extent. And while no member of this triumvirate could be considered a failure by any means, it is also quite true that none has really had a hit film in a number of years, particularly Ford (although to be fair, Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can did respectable business, and even given the critical drubbing and the falling short of expectations, it’s hard to call either of the last two Star Wars installments out-and-out failures).

And thus Indiana Jones and the Career Rejuvenation was born. The trademark whip and fedora will be dusted off, and Jones will set out to find some archeological treasure or other, fending off the bad guys and romancing the ladies along the way.

A rather cynical view, you say? Perhaps so. And perhaps it is way off-base. But it is interesting to note that Spielberg, Ford and Friends are not the first to revive a well-known character thought to be left firmly in the past when the need arose; we have, in fact, seen just such an example this summer movie season. And they will almost certainly not be the last. But for those times when the revivals actually work and work well, the audience can be thankful. One hopes that Indiana Jones 4 falls into that category.

Judging from early reports, it seems that IJ4 just might. According to Spielberg, Ford and Company, the film will not be try and pretend that time has stood still for either the character or the actor who plays him; the fact that Indiana is now approaching mandatory retirement age will be an integral part of the script, much to the relief of non-fanatics everywhere. But other than that fact, a timeframe of the ‘50s and the appearance of the aforementioned characters from the first three films, little is known of Indiana Jones 4 at this early date, and likely will not be known until closer to start of production next summer. We’ll be updating this page as news becomes available, so check back with us here at BOP to learn the latest about Indiana Jones and the AARP Years. (Stephanie Star Smith/BOP)

February 7, 2004
To the surprise of absolutely no one with a pulse, the Frank Darabont script was found lacking by Lucas, Spielberg and the rest of the Out of Touch Gang. That means Indiana Jones 4 has been pushed back another year, thereby even further reducing its chances of ever seeing the light of day. BOP keeps hoping for a miracle here, but the prospects become bleaker with each passing month. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Main Cast Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone
Supporting Cast Shia LaBeouf
Director Steven Spielberg
Screenwriter David Koepp, Jeff Nathanson
Distributor Paramount
Official Site
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
Mummy Returns, The 5/4/0168.14 72.72 3401 20035.00 20566.9 202.01 215.60 2.96
Jurassic Park 6/12/9350.16 73.05 2404 20865.00 29231.2 356.78 519.65 7.11
Lara Croft:Tomb Raider 6/15/0147.74 50.95 3308 14430.00 14813.1 131.14 139.96 2.75
Mummy, The 5/7/9943.37 51.68 3210 13511.00 15425.9 155.25 185.01 3.58
Air Force One 7/25/9737.13 48.77 2919 12720.00 16073.2 172.65 226.81 4.65
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade * 5/26/8937.03 55.96 2327 15913.00 23131.7 197.17 297.98 5.06



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