Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), succeeds at the boxoffice but is met with mixed reviews due to its shrill tone and excessive violence. The MPAA is forced to introduce a new category to their film-rating system: PG-13.
Lawrence Kasdan who penned the script for Raiders turns down Lucas’ offer to write the screenplay for the second installment based on his story: “I just thought it was horrible. It’s so mean. There’s nothing pleasant about it.”
In his place Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz abide by the demands of Lucas and Spielberg to create a script for a much darker film. A first draft is ready after six weeks. According to Katz, “Steve was coming off an enormously successful movie [E.T.] and George didn’t want to lose him.” […] “He desperately wanted him to direct [Temple of Doom]. We were under a lot of pressure to do it really, really fast so we could hold on to Steve.”
Due to the Government of India’s finding the script racist and offensive, the
filmmakers are denied permission to film in North India and Amer Fort. Director of Photography Douglas Slocombe’s skillful lighting helps disguise the fact that about 80 percent of the film is made on sound stages.
Reprising his role as Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford gains a more muscular tone through a strict physical exercise regime. The cast includes Amrish Puri and Roshan Seth who both played parts in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982).
Out of over 120 actresses auditioning for the female lead (including Sharon Stone) Steven Spielberg selects Kate Capshaw – and marries her in 1991. Capshaw plays Willie Scott, an American nightclub singer in Shanghai. Spielberg and Lucas make her a spoiled and hysteric “damsel in distress” which is a radical departure from Raiders of the Lost Ark’s tough and clever Marion Ravenwood.
Ke Huy Quan plays the 9-year-old sidekick Short Round who has
lost his parents during the Japanese bombardment in the Battle for
Shanghai. He has found a surrogate father in Indiana Jones. In his film Empire of the Sun (1987), Spielberg will seriously explore the fate of children in the wake of the Battle for Shanghai.
Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, and Dan Aykroyd have cameos at the airport.
Despite major problems during filming, Spielberg is able to complete Temple of Doom on schedule and on budget ($28 million – which is $8 million more than the first installment’s budget).
Spielberg on the editing process: “After I showed the [first cut of the] film to George, at an hour and 55 minutes, we looked at each other…” “The first thing that we said was, ‘Too fast’. We needed to decelerate the action. I did a few more matte shots to slow it down.”
The film’s highlights: the musical opening, the rope bridge sequence and the mine cart chase which is created by ILM’s innovative miniature / stop-motion photography (Academy Award for Best Visual Effects).
With the highest opening weekend of 1984, Temple of Doom grosses $333.11 million worldwide.