Forget 'Star Wars,' What Should Disney Do with 'Indiana Jones'?

Forget 'Star Wars,' What Should Disney Do with 'Indiana Jones'?

Oct 31, 2012

Everyone between here and a galaxy far, far away is talking about Disney’s acquisition of LucasFilm yesterday and the new Star Wars trilogy they intend to kick off in 2015. That’s a big deal, for sure, but one thing that’s sort of been lost in the Star Wars fervor is that Disney not only got the rights to make more movies in that beloved franchise, but they’ve also landed the rights to Indiana Jones. We’ve seen speculation from every corner of the online world about what the House of Mouse might do with Star Wars moving forward, but not much speculation about Indy’s continuing adventures. With that in mind, we decided to look at some of Disney’s options for the famous adventurer.

Make More Movies

Indiana JonesThe most obvious choice is to make more movies. While Indy is being treated almost like an extra in this deal (like the third-line winger who comes with the high scoring center in a hockey trade), let’s not lose sight of the fact that the four films in the series have raked in almost $2 billion in global box office receipts. And while Kingdom of the Crystal Skull might have tarnished the franchise a bit, this is still a series with drawing power. Disney would be crazy to ignore it.

If Disney does decide to chronicle more of Indy’s adventures (and what does this mean for Lucas’ planned fifth film, exactly? At the moment no one seems to know) they need to decide what they’re doing quickly. Harrison Ford is 70 years old and an attempt to “pass the torch” to someone like Shia LaBeouf in the last entry didn’t go over well.

Given Ford’s age, a new trilogy seems unlikely. Even if they were ready to start today, Ford would be near 80 by the time they were finished. The actor certainly looks good for his age, but we doubt audiences will buy into an 80-year-old Ford globe-trotting in search of lost relics.

That leaves Disney the option of potentially doing one or two more films with Ford, at most. We’d like to see them go this route. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull disappointed the majority of fans and it would be a bummer if that were to serve as the main series’ last entry. We’d like to see Indy don the whip and fedora one more time in the hopes that maybe the series could end on a high note. This seems like a potentially plausible path for the franchise.

The catch here is that Disney has no real plans for Indy at the moment. The reason is because Paramount still owns a stake in the franchise, so Disney would have to cut them in at some point if they did decide to make a film. They went through a similar situation with The Avengers – and had to give up 8% of the profits to make the deal work. That doesn’t seem like a lot given what The Avengers hauled in at the box office, but there is a certain element of risk involved. This could be why we don’t see any new Indiana Jones properties in the foreseeable future.

TV and Video Game Spin-offs

Lego Indiana Jones game

If the whole movie thing doesn’t work out, there’s always the idea of taking Indy in another direction. TV and video games are big business these days – and this character could flourish in either market.

There’s even a precedent for the television success of the character – The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was popular in the early ‘90s, running a season on ABC and spawning four made-for-television films. Could Disney bring back a show like this updated for a new audience? Certainly. Could they instead opt for a series with an Indy closer in age to the one we see in the films? Anything’s possible. Given how television has changed over the past few decades, an Indy series could be very interesting – the gap in visual quality and effects from TV to film is a lot narrower than it used to be, so a tentpole series like this could be re-created in the weekly format without looking like it was slumming.

Then there are video games. Indy’s already been the focus of quite a few game titles (from the Atari 2600, to the PC, to Facebook…) and some have been better than others, but with the right developer we could see a really classic gaming franchise emerge. Tomb Raider and Uncharted are wildly successful game series that were obviously inspired by Lucas and Spielberg’s films, why not flip the script and use them as templates (particularly UnchartedTomb Raider is all over the place in terms of quality) to build a successful series for Indy? Games are big business – and this franchise could live on for a long time in this format because a digital Harrison Ford never ages.

Do Nothing At All

Raiders of the lost Ark storage room

The final choice is the least appealing for anyone who loves the swashbuckling adventures of Dr. Indiana Jones – but it may be the one most likely to happen.

It’s clear that Star Wars was the big acquisition in this deal and that the Indiana Jones property is almost an afterthought at this point. Maybe Disney decides those “encumbrances” with Paramount aren’t worth the time and money it would take to make them work. Maybe it decides Ford is too old to do another film and that rebooting the franchise with a new lead is too high risk. Maybe television doesn’t feel like the right way to go and games aren’t on the menu. Disney could just let this series sit – stored away in a vault like the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, forgotten and abandoned forever. It would be a shame if that happened – the world of Indiana Jones is filled with stories that have yet to be told and adventures still to be taken. Losing out on that would be disappointing, but it could very well happen.

What do you guys think? What should Disney do with this property? Should the company move ahead with new Indy projects or should this series be consigned to the annals of history? Share your thoughts with us below. 

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