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Here's why Indiana Jones 5 didn't 'come together' before Spielberg left as director

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Indiana Jones 5 sounds like it's had a long and complicated history, before the recent hiring of writer/director James Mangold. Screenwriter David Koepp, who wrote 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, explains that he worked on a couple of versions with director Steven Spielberg but that it didn't entirely pan out before he departed the project. 

"I tried a couple different versions with Steven and they all had some good stuff about them and they all had some stuff that didn’t work, which happens," Koepp tells Den of Geek. "But it was just very hard to have everybody come together and have all the elements – Steven, Harrison (Ford), the script and Disney – come together at once. And it didn’t."

Koepp first worked on the movie back in 2016, before writer Jonathan Kasdan (Solo) joined to work on the script in 2018. Koepp then reportedly worked on the script again in 2019. By February 2020, Mangold was involved with the film, and Koepp left the project when Spielberg moved aside as director (he's still involved as a producer on the movie).

"When James Mangold came in and Steven stepped out, that was a pretty logical breaking point," he says. Koepp did have a conversation with Mangold about the project before the Ford Vs Ferrari director moved forward with it, but ultimately departed the film amicably. 

Indiana Jones 5 is currently scheduled for July 29, 2022, just a couple of weeks after star Harrison Ford turns 80 years old. This will also be 14 years after the release of the last movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – itself released 19 years after Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 

The long wait for Indy's return

In this age of super franchises, where nothing ever dies and popular series get lots of spin-offs and sequels, Indiana Jones is a bit of an anomaly. It's tied to one actor in a way that Star Wars, Fast and Furious and the MCU are not – and indeed, it was was tied to a single director, too, before Spielberg departed this project.

This isn't the first time an Indiana Jones movie has spent a long time in development. George Lucas spent a big chunk of the '90s trying to figure out the film that became Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – various writers ended up taking a stab at the film, like The Shawshank Redemption's Frank Darabont, before Koepp's script formed the basis of the (very flawed) movie.

How about releasing the Indiana Jones movies on Disney Plus to tide us over until 2022, eh?