Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford Reuniting for Fifth ‘Indiana Jones’

2019
Anything Goes: Indiana Jones Returns…

On March 15, 2016, Walt Disney Studios announce a 5th Indiana Jones film to be directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Harrison Ford, set to premiere July 19, 2019.

Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will produce the as-yet untitled project (with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg serving as Executive Producers). 

Ford tells the BBC he took the role under two conditions:

“I’ve always thought there was an opportunity to do another. But I didn’t want to do it without Steven [Spielberg]. And I didn’t want to do it without a really good script. And happily we’re working on both. Steven is developing a script now that I think we’re going to be very happy with.”

Other actors have not yet been cast. Regular crew members include:

Screenplay
David Koepp

Original Music
John Williams 

Cinematography
Janusz Kaminski

Film Editing
Michael Kahn 

Special Effects
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM)

More about Indiana Jones…

Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford Reuniting for Fifth ‘Indiana Jones’

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2016
Legendary British cinematographer Douglas Slocombe dies at the age of 103 in a hospital in London. His filmography amounts to 80 movies.

As a newsreel cameraman he films the Nazi invasion of Poland and goes on to work as director of photography on a series of classic British films in the 1940s and 1950s known as the Ealing comedies, including Kind Hearts and Coronets starring Alec Guinness. Later films include The Lion in Winter (1968), Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), Rollerball (1975), and Never Say Never Again (1983).

Slocombe wins three BAFTA award for The Servant (1963), The Great Gatsby (1974), and Julia (1977). He is a three-time Academy Award nominee, including for Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

Before Raiders, Slocombe shoots the acclaimed and technically complex India sequence for Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

When “Dougie” – as Spielberg calls him – is hired for Raiders, he is 68 years old. Harrison Ford claims that Dougie never used a light meter – he just
held up his hand and observed the shadow his thumb made on the palm.

Slocombe continues to work on two more films of the franchise: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), before Janusz Kamiński takes over as DP in the fourth installment.

In 1996, Slocombe receives a lifetime achievement award by the British Society of Cinematographers and is made an OBE in 2008 for services to the film industry.

Steven Spielberg calls Douglas Slocombe “a great collaborator and a beautiful human being”.

“Dougie Slocombe was facile, enthusiastic, and loved the action of
filmmaking. Harrison Ford was Indiana Jones in front of the camera, but
with his whip-smart crew, Dougie was my behind the scenes hero for the
first three Indy movies.”

2015
Star Wars: The Force Awakens premieres in Los Angeles. More than 5,000 guests attend the world premiere in all three theaters on Hollywood Blvd.: Dolby Theatre, Chinese Theatre and El Capitan Theatre.

Before the screening, director J.J. Abrams thanks George Lucas, the mastermind behind the Star Wars universe, and his longtime mentor Steven Spielberg. “It is an honor to be here
with you at this incredibly low-key premiere
,” Abrams quips.

Then he speaks directly to Spielberg:

“I owed you everything already
before you lobbied for me to get this movie. Dude, I’m tapped
out.”

Abrams thanks the Star Wars crew before bringing the stars onstage. Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford all receive standing ovations.

Celebrity guests attending the premiere include directors Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler, Colin Trevorrow, Edgar Wright, Jon Favreau, and Roland Emmerich.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the 7th installment in the main Star Wars film series. The cast includes Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Simon Pegg and Max von Sydow

J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of the original trilogy films The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), rewrite an initial script by Michael Arndt

George Lucas serves as creative consultant during the film’s early production. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy is overseeing production (budget: $245 million). 

John Williams, who created the music for the previous six films, returns to compose the score.

The film breaks many box office records, becoming the highest-grossing installment of the franchise, with a worldwide gross of more than $2 billionStar Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens receives five Academy Award nominations

Two sequels, Episode VIII and Episode IX, will be released in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

Spielberg on Melissa Mathison: E.T.’s Glowing Heart Was Hers

2015
In a TIME Magazine article, Steven Spielberg talks about the late screenwriter Melissa Mathison and her contribution to his upcoming screen adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG (2016).

Spielberg compares it with his experience of working with her on the story for E.T. – The Extraterrestrial (1982) while shooting Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981):

“I found working with Melissa that those 30-plus years had evaporated—it was just like being back in the cutting room on Raiders sitting on the floor with a bunch of cards strewn about, trying to figure out that story.”

Mathison was on set of The BFG every day of shooting in summer 2015, so Spielberg calls her “more than just a writing partner—she was a real on-set partner.” He adds:

“It did not feel like an adult was writing words, but
that they were coming improvisationally from the mouths of young people.
That was her magic and that was her gift with E.T., and she’s done the same thing with BFG.”

“I think her legacy will be that she could only tell a story that began and ended from the heart. E.T.’s glowing heart was, in fact, Melissa’s.”

In the same article, Kathleen Kennedy reveals that it was Harrison Ford who talked Melissa Mathison into writing the script for Steven Spielberg’s E.T. – The Extraterrestrial (1982). Initially, she refused arguing she wasn’t the right writer for it, so Spielberg turned to Ford and asked him for help.

In an interview with EW, Steven Spielberg speaks about his first encounter with Mathison and what he remembers most about his friend and collaborator: Her ability to find wonder in unlikely places. 

“Like a mirage in Lawrence of Arabia…That’s what it was like the first time I set eyes on Melissa. We were shooting Raiders. It was in 1980, in the unbearable heat of Nafta in Tunisia, and amidst a couple of hundred Arab extras dressed in German uniforms, I saw what looked like an egret.This person was bent over, picking stuff up off the ground. I asked, ‘What are you doing?’ And she said, ‘You know, this used to be the ocean floor and look at all these fossils…’ She was right. Everywhere you looked on the ground there were fossils and seashells and all kinds of things in the sand.I said, ‘Who are you?’ And she simply said, ‘I’m Harrison’s friend.’ And I said, ‘Well, what do you do?’ She told me, ‘Currently, I’m a failed writer.’ I began to laugh and she began to laugh. Then I said, ‘What have you failed at?’ She said she had written a number of scripts that she wasn’t really happy with, and only one got made. When I realized she had written The Black Stallion, it stopped me in my tracks because it’s one of my favorite movies. Then I started asking her a lot of questions about The Black Stallion. Before she was even finished answering them, I said, ‘I have a story about this alien that gets stuck on Earth with a family of divorce, and … would you be interested in writing this with me?’  She said ‘No, no, no. I’m retired from writing now. I need to find another way to live my life.’ I started telling her the story of E.T. that I had thus far, not down on paper, but in my head. She heard it and said, ‘That’s really sweet and interesting, but I’ve retired.’

I went back to the set and shot a couple scenes with Harrison and told him this curious story of bumping into Melissa while she was picking up seashells in the middle of the Tunisian desert. I told him I had offered her a chance to write a movie with me and she turned it down. Harrison said, ‘Sounds like Melissa…’ I asked, ‘Can you help me?’ He said, ‘Let me talk to her tonight.’ And so the next day Harrison came into work, and the first thing he said was, ‘I think she’s had a change of heart.’

When I sat down to talk to her about the script again a few days later, she said, ‘I wasn’t really listening to anything you were saying to me before, so why don’t you start over again?’ [Laughs.] She started to brainstorm with me and added all kinds of new ideas to the mix. And that’s when I knew that I had a partner. Melissa was back in the writing game.While I was in the editing room cutting Raiders, Melissa would come in two to three days a week, and we would just sit and develop the story. She would put everything on cards. Those cards became a kind of talisman, and defined the way I thought about Melissa’s creative partnership with me. All these little cards, where she wrote down either my ideas or her own, eventually became the first draft. She went away for six weeks and wrote the script.“When I finally read the script, I pretty much said, ‘I could shoot this movie tomorrow.’ We tweaked it and we changed just a little bit of the third act. At one point, E.T. got sick and was taken to a hospital, and the entire venue of the film shifted to a medical center. On second thought, it just seemed like a better idea to keep it at home and turn the house into a hospital, so that became the triage of trying to save E.T. and Elliott’s lives. Those were some of the very few changes. Of all the movies I’ve ever made, E.T. went through the least amount of revision. Melissa’s heart was just glowing over that movie. 

And the same darn thing happened 30 years later when we started our second collaboration on The BFG by Roald Dahl.The main difference was I didn’t have to talk her into writing this one. She had started writing it even before I came on board and had done three drafts before I started.It was the same energy and ease of conversation that happened all over again. I felt like I got into a time machine with her and went back to E.T.’s making, because the spirit that Melissa carried with her during her entire life had infected all of us, and she shaped The BFG into a portrait of a friendship. Melissa didn’t know she was sick at the beginning. The summer of 2014 was spent in a small garage in my house on Long Island, where we assembled the movie through [pre-visualized animations.] We made the entire movie of The BFG from beginning to end that way, and watched it and changed it. During principal photography in Vancouver this past spring, she was on the set every day, giving me the cards for the day’s work — just like on E.T

She seemed fine, but there were several times that she needed to go back to L.A. for personal reasons. I didn’t ask what the personal reasons were. And one time she was absent [for] four days. Then she came back and she seemed perfectly okay again. So her health issues came as a surprise to all of us.I’ve had a lot of time to think about Melissa since she died in November, and I’m not really sure she’s gone. I feel her presence more than her absence. I’m really going to start to hurt when that fades and I start missing her again in my life.I could speak for many of her closest friends — we’re all still in disbelief that she’s gone. The thing about Melissa was, she could just watch the traffic of everyday things speed by her, which was just fine with her because in her life she preferred to stroll. 

Moviemaking is often a lot of thunder and lightning, and Melissa was always the calm eye of the storm.She could relate to kids better than anybody I had ever met. On the set of E.T., she taught me on the first day of shooting that you never talk down to children. You get on their eye level and you simply fall into conversation with them. It changed my entire approach to directing children because I watched how effortless it was for Melissa to sit with Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, and Robert MacNaughton and just have a conversation with them.I think she understood the natural habitat of childhood. Melissa was all about discovery. And childhood is all about daily, even hourly, even minute-by-minute discoveries.Melissa was like a kid when she was making these little breakthroughs. Like how to tell a story, or how to find the right line of dialogue. Or how to find sea shells in a desert.

Spielberg on Melissa Mathison: E.T.’s Glowing Heart Was Hers

2015
Melissa Mathison dies at 65.

By writing her Oscar-nominated screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial (1982) she did the groundwork for one of the most beloved film classics of all time – also serving as associate producer.

Mathison wrote screenplays for Carroll Ballard’s The Black Stallion (1979), Caleb Deschanel’s The Escape Artist (1982), the second segment in Steven Spielberg’s Twilight Zone – The Movie (1983), the TV film Son of the Morning Star (1991), and Frank OzThe Indian in the Cupboard (1995). Mathison had a particular feeling for children’s literature, telling stories about children who she portrayed as sensitively heroic.

She recently reunited with Steven Spielberg to write the screenplay for the Roald Dahl adaptation The BFG (2016) which is currently in post-production. After hearing of her death, Spielberg says in a statement:

“Melissa had a heart that shined with generosity and love and burned as bright as the heart she gave E.T.”

On the 2002 DVD special edition, Spielberg describes her contribution:

“Melissa delivered this 107-page first draft to me and I read it in about an hour. I was just knocked out. It was a script I was willing to shoot the next day. It was so honest, and Melissa’s voice made a direct connection with my heart.”

Mathison explains:

“I would write for four or five days in my little office in Hollywood, and then drive out to Marina Del Rey where Steven Spielberg was editing in a little apartment on the beach. I’d bring him my pages and we’d sit and go through them…It took about eight weeks for us to get the first draft, which was quite fast, I think.”

Her screenplay for Martin Scorsese’s Kundun (1997), a movie about the Dalai Lama’s childhood and growth into a young man, reflected her decades-long interest in Tibet. With the help of Richard Gere, a supporter of Tibetan causes, she and Harrison Ford met with the Dalai Lama in Santa Barbara in 1990. She later pitched the notion of a film based on his early years.

Mathison was born on June 3, 1950 in Los Angeles and attended U.C. Berkeley. She interrupted her studies in political science for a job in the movies with a family friend. The friend was Francis Ford Coppola, whose children she used to baby sit. Mathison became his assistant on the set of The Godfather, Part II (1974). After Coppola urged her to write, she came up with her script for The Black Stallion (1979).

She had two children, Georgia and Malcolm, from her marriage to actor Harrison Ford. They divorced in 2004 after a 21-year marriage. From 1983 to 1985, Mathison, Ford and their children lived on a 700-acre ranch outside Jackson Hole, Wyo., where the screenwriter put her career on hold.

“I didn’t want to be missing their childhood while I was away, busy writing about children.”

2013
Gravity
– a dazzling and groundbreaking “drama of a woman in space” directed, co-written, and produced by Alfonso Cuarón – stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts who are stranded in space after the mid-orbit destruction of their space shuttle and try to return to Earth. The off-screen voice of Mission Control is spoken by Ed Harris.

Cuarón writes the screenplay with his son Jonás and attempts to develop the film at Universal Pictures where it stays stranded in development for several years while Cuarón waits for technology to catch up to his vision.  Fellow director David Fincher advises him to wait five years. Cuarón remembers: “We were stubborn, (and) said we’re going to make it work (…) But you know what? David was right. It took us 4½ years.”

Eventually, his script is purchased by Warner Bros. Angelina Jolie and Robert Downey Jr. are in talks to star but have to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Other actresses considered for the female lead are: Salma Hayek, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, Marion Cotillard, Abbie Cornish, Carey Mulligan, Sienna Miller, Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively, Rebecca Hall, and Olivia Wilde. Before George Clooney is signed for the male lead, the following actors are considered: Daniel Craig, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, and Denzel Washington.

Gravity is produced entirely in the United Kingdom, where the British visual effects company Framestore spends more than three years creating most of the film’s visual effects, which comprise over 80 of its 91 minutes. Creating long scenes in a zero-g environment proves to be a challenge. CGI is used for the spacewalk scenes and automotive robots are used to move Bullock’s character for interior space station scenes (shots have to be planned well in advance for the robots to be programmed).

Sandra Bullock delivers a riveting performance which earns her nominations for an Academy Award as well as Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Awards. For most of her shots, she is placed inside a giant, mechanical rig. Getting into the rig takes a significant amount of time, so Bullock stays in it for up to 10 hours a day, communicating with others through a headset.

Gravity is filmed digitally on multiple Arri Alexa Classics cameras equipped with wide Arri Master Prime lenses. To simulate the authenticity and reflection of unfiltered light in space, a manually controlled lighting system is built. Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki and visual effects supervisor Tim Webber decide “to shoot (the actors’) faces and create everything else digitally.” To do that, Lubezki lights the actors’ faces to match the all-digital environment. The light would need to perfectly match Earth, Sol and the other stars in the background. Lubezki suggests folding an L.E.D. screen into a box, putting the actor inside, and using the light from the screen to light the actor. That way, the projected image can move while the actors stay still. The “light box” is a nine-foot cube (just big enough for one actor) consisting of 1.8 million individually controlled LED lights.

Cuarón chooses to use very long, uninterrupted shots throughout the film to draw the audience into the action but contrasts these with claustrophobic shots within space suits and capsules. Because of the lengthy takes, Sandra Bullock has to memorize long combinations of precise movements to hit her marks at different points in the shot. The soundtrack in the film’s space scenes consists of the musical score and sounds astronauts would hear in their suits or in the space vehicles.

According to Cuarón, his film is inspired by John Sturges’s Marooned (1969) and Steven Spielberg’s Duel (1971).

Gravity opens the Venice International Film Festival. On release, the film is met with near-universal critical acclaim. It is a huge financial success, grossing over $723 million worldwide (against a budget of $100 million). Bullock’s lead part in Gravity turns out to be her most
lucrative
. She earns at least $70 million from the film after
agreeing a deal that gives her a 15 per cent cut of the takings in
addition to her $20 million fee

At the Academy Awards, Gravity receives ten nominations and wins in seven categories – including Best
Director, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Visual
Effects.

Justin Chang writing for Variety says that the film “restores a sense of wonder, terror and possibility to the big screen that should inspire awe among critics and audiences worldwide”.

Fellow filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino both praise the film. James Cameron, best friend of Cuarón, says: “I was stunned, absolutely floored. I think it’s the best space photography ever done, I think it’s the best space film ever done, and it’s the movie I’ve been hungry to see for an awful long time.”

2008
Steven Spielberg
’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the fourth installment in the Indiana Jones series created by George Lucas, produced by Frank Marshall, and starring Harrison Ford. Released nineteen years after the previous film, the story acknowledges the age of its 64-year-old star Harrison Ford by being set in 1957

The cast includes Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, and Shia LaBeouf (the girl who punches him in the diner scene is Sasha Spielberg).

When George Lucas and Steven Spielberg finally decide to develop a fourth adventure, expectations are as high as the risks of failure. So, the plot device has to be carefully chosen. All previous installments have centered around religious artifacts. Lucas comes up with the idea of Indy versus creatures from outer space, locating the story in the era of trashy sci-fi films from the 1950s. Jeb Stuart and Jeffrey Boam both write drafts but Spielberg and Ford are not thrilled by the story. When Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day (1996) hits theaters, Spielberg tells Lucas that he is not interested in doing another alien invasion film. 

Years later, in 2000, when Ford, Lucas, Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy meet during the AFI’s tribute to Ford, they all agree they should do the next Indiana Jones film. Lucas somehow convinces Spielberg to use aliens in the plot by saying they are not “extraterrestrials”, but “interdimensional” beings – a concept inspired by the superstring theory. He also suggests to add the crystal skulls as he originally wanted to feature them in an episode of his Young Indiana Jones tv series. M. Night Shyamalan and Tom Stoppard are asked to write drafts for an intended 2002 shoot, but due to Lucas’ involvement in the Star Wars prequels the production start is postponed.

In 2003, Frank Darabont who has also been writer and director of Young Indiana Jones episodes, delivers a script for the film – which might as well be called Indiana Jones and the Curse of Development Hell. Darabont’s script is actually titled Indiana Jones and the City of Gods and contains most of the ideas that end up in the final film. According to Darabont, Spielberg loves the script, but Lucas vetoes it. Yet another writer is hired: Jeff Nathanson turns in the next drafts in 2005, titled The Atomic Ants. They are rewritten by David Koepp who collaborates with Raiders of the Lost Ark screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan on the dialogues between Indy and Marion. Koepp subtitles his script Destroyer of Worlds, based on the J. Robert Oppenheimer quote. Spielberg and Lucas eventually change the title to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

David Koepp creates uber-villainess, Soviet agent Irina Spalko (portrayed by Cate Blanchett). Blanchett is eager to play a villain and visibly enjoys adding her distinct portrayal to the Indiana Jones legacy. Spalko’s bob cut is Blanchett’s idea, with the character’s stern looks and behaviour recalling evil Rosa Klebb in the second James Bond film From Russia with Love (1963). However, Koepp is not able to make the best possible use of her part (after a strong entry, her role is reduced to bit appearences, getting involved in a less-than-exciting fencing match with Indy’s son, instead of Indy himself). An adequate showdown between her and Indy is missing in action. Nevertheless, Spielberg praises Blanchett as his favorite Indiana Jones villain:

”Of all the villains I’ve been able to work with in the Indiana Jones movies, I can say she’s my favorite. And I think Cate made her that way.”

When all knowledge about everything is at her hands, Irina Spalko utters the orgasmic words, “I want…to know!” in a nod to Joan Crawford’s “I want…to see!“ in the TV episode Eyes (1969), Spielberg’s professional debut as a director.

In response to passionate requests from fans, Karen Allen reprises her role as Marion Ravenwood: Unfortunately, the grand surprise entry that Darabont has written for her, is not used in the film. In Darabont’s script, we follow an unknown lady entering a nightclub in Peru:

"We’re too far away to see her face, and in any event she’s obscured by a stylish wide-brimmed hat that matches her white tailored skirt suit. (…) She comes up behind Indy as the bartender sets down his martini. She makes her presence known by plucking an olive with a white-gloved hand and dropping it in Indy’s drink. Indy turns, looking up at her. A frozen beat. His expression going slack. For a moment his brain refuses to accept what he’s seeing; it’s literally the last person he ever expected. (…) She looks fantastic, not to mention dumbstruck at the sight of Indy her smile fades … and she hauls off and punches him in the mouth.“

In the inevitable drinking contest, Marion asks Indy about his old flame Willie Scott who, according to Indy, "moved out to Hollywood to be a star. Last I heard, she fell in love and married some bigshot director.“

Compared to this, Marion’s entry and subsequent scenes in the film version remain below their potential. The same can be said about Marion’s son, Mutt Williams. In his lackluster portrayal, Shia LaBeouf does not nearly manage to convey the same rivalry between father and son, as demonstrated in the legendary verbal exchanges between Ford and Connery in The Last Crusade (1989). Even worse, Mutt does a Tarzan-like stunt, swinging on vines with a horde of monkeys – a scene that many Indy fans would like to erase from their memories.

Koepp expands the part of muddleheaded Professor Oxley, brilliantly played by John Hurt (Darabont had him in mind when writing the script), and adds "triple-agent” George “Mac” McHale (Ray Winstone) to the story. In Darabont’s screenplay, Indy’s father has a small part, but this has to be dropped when Sean Connery decides not to reprise his role – though he is seen on a photo on Indy’s desk. Indy’s friend Sallah is to appear at the wedding scene but John Rhys-Davies declines as he feels his character deserves a more substantial role in the film. Charles Stanforth (played by Jim Broadbent), dean of the fictional Marshall College and Indy’s friend. succeeds Marcus Brody, whose actor, Denholm Elliott, died in 1992. As a tribute to Elliott, the filmmakers put a portrait and a statue on the Marshall College location. 

When Indy is suspended from his duties at the College because of alleged Communist ties, Stanforth shows some backbone and resigns, muttering “I don’t recognize this country anymore!“ This is Spielberg’s twofold comment on the climate of political repression against communists during the 1950’s McCarthy era and excessive Homeland security measures of the present day, directed against potential terrorist activities. 

Spielberg shoots a sequence from Darabont’s script to indulge in a bizzarre snapshot of the 1950’s of his childhood (videoclip): Indy flees into a "typical“ suburb which has actually been constructed to be blown up in a testing of the atomic bomb. When Indy realizes that the family sitting in front of the TV set are mannequins and the countdown for the bomb is started, he climbs into a heavy-duty refrigerator (Spielberg’s favorite set piece in many of his films) which ultimately saves his life. This crazy digression – a great example of Michael Kahn’s masterful editing – is one of the film’s highlights but polarizes fans, leading to the term “nuke the fridge“.

Spielberg asks fans not to criticize George Lucas for this sequence:


“What people really jumped at was Indy climbing into a
refrigerator and getting blown into the sky by an atom-bomb blast. Blame
me. Don’t blame George. That was my silly idea. People stopped saying
"jump the shark”. They now say, “nuked the fridge”. I’m proud of that.
I’m glad I was able to bring that into popular culture.“


And he adds:

The Nuke The Fridge was the greatest thing to come out of “CRYSTAL SKULL!”

Part of the fun are the many film references that can be found in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, e.g. American Graffiti (1973), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), The Wild One (1953), Vertigo (1958), and Star Wars – A New Hope (1977), with Indy having “a bad feeling about this“. Not to forget the reappearance of the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

To keep aesthetic continuity with the previous films, Director of Photography Janusz Kamiński studies Douglas Slocombe’s style from the previous films. Spielberg on their approach to the film’s visual style: 

"I still wanted the film to have a lighting style not dissimilar to the work Doug Slocombe had achieved, which meant that both Janusz and I had to swallow our pride. Janusz had to approximate another cinematographer’s look, and I had to approximate this younger director’s look that I thought I had moved away from after almost two decades." 

Initially, Spielberg wants to rely on traditional stunt work as well as practical sets and effects. However, during filming ILM does more CGI work than anticipated, and a total of about 450 CGI shots make it into the film. Spielberg prefers not to shoot the film in digital format and does not want it to be released that way.

John Williams describes composing for the fourth Indiana Jones installment as "like sitting down and finishing a letter that you started 25 years ago”. He reuses Indiana’s theme as well as Marion’s from the first film, adding new motifs for Mutt, Spalko and the skull.

The film premieres in Cannes on May 18, 2008 (the first Spielberg film since 1982’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to launch the Cannes Film Festival), and is released worldwide on May 22, 2008 to generally positive reviews from critics, although audience reception is more mixed. It is a huge financial success, grossing over $786 million worldwide, against a budget of $185 million. Spielberg describes the film as “the sweet dessert I give those who had to chow down on the bitter herbs I used in Munich.”

Unlike any other previous Indiana Jones film, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull does not receive any Academy Award nominations. It is the last film in the series to be distributed by Paramount Pictures, as Walt Disney Studios becomes the distributor of future films, after its acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012.

1989
With the third installment in the Indiana Jones franchise, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, director Steven Spielberg wants to tone down the violence and shrillness that caused mixed reactions from audience and critics to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984): “I’m making the third Indiana Jones movie to apologize for the second. It was too horrific.”

As in the first film, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), the Nazis are chasing after an occult object, this time the Holy Grail, and Indy must stop them. Not quite satisfied with the story’s McGuffin, Spielberg convinces executive producer George Lucas to put the focus on Indy’s search for his kidnapped father.

“I wanted to do Indy in pursuit of his father (a medieval scholar), sharing his father`s dream, and also, in the course of searching for their dreams, they rediscover each other.” In a difficult phase of his life, Spielberg can tackle his strained relationship with his own father on-screen. Jones Sr. and Jr. are entangled in bickering quite similar to the conflict between Indy and Marion.

A casting coup makes it all the better: Sean Connery brilliantly impersonates professor Henry Jones Sr., Indy’s father who gets on his nerves by calling him “Junior!”. A nerd’s dream comes true: From the outset Lucas and Spielberg considered the James Bond
character as a “father figure” for Indiana Jones.

Jeffrey Boam (Innerspace) writes the script; Tom Stoppard (Empire of the Sun) and Menno Meyjes (The Color Purple) are also involved.

The story pairs Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) with Austrian archaeologist Dr. Elsa Schneider played by Alison Doody who debuted in the James Bond film A View to A Kill (1985). The cast also includes Julian Glover (The Empire Strikes Back) and Raiders of the Lost Ark veterans John Rhys-Davies (Sallah) and Denholm Elliott (Marcus Brody).

In the opening of the film, we are introduced to a 13-year-old Boy Scout by the name of Indiana Jones (played by River Phoenix). He snatches a golden crucifix from a group of grave robbers, hoping to donate it to a museum. The men chase him through a passing circus train, leaving Indy with a snake phobia. The prologue inspires Lucas to create The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles television series (1992-93). The circus train sequence is a nod to the first movie Spielberg watched in his own childhood: The Greatest Show on Earth (1952).

One more time, cinematographer Douglas Slocombe creates masterful
images reminiscent of the golden Hollywood era. Spielberg conceives the
shot of Henry Jones with his umbrella (which helps him to crash an attacking plane) as
an homage to David Lean’s film Ryan’s Daughter (1970).

The Last Crusade opens to mostly positive reviews and becomes the highest-grossing film worldwide in 1989. Nearly 20 years pass until another Indiana Jones film is released: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).

1984
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.

1982
Ridley Scott’s
visionary film Blade Runner does not convince critics and audiences when it premieres but over time evolves into cult status. The screenplay is based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? published in 1968. The movie version combines a battered look & feel with elements from film noir and science fiction.

Harrison Ford is a bounty hunter whose mission is to track down fugitive replicants (humanoid robots) and “retire” them. Rutger Hauer’s “Tears in Rain” monologue of a dying replicant is now a part of pop culture. The impressive effects are created by Douglas Trumbull.

Blade Runner’s cyberpunk aesthetics will influence a generation of filmmakers, including Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985).

Twenty years later, Spielberg will follow with his own adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story (Minority Report, 2002) in which he also applies film noir elements. Bio-ethical questions raised in Blade Runner are further developed in Spielberg’s A.I. – Artificial Intelligence (2001).