Below is the accumulation of all my notes regarding the widespread rumors and babbling gossip (always from the wagging tongues of fanboys) about the fourth installment of Indiana Jones. I followed these rumors closely because I, like everyone else, dreamed of a shot at writing the new script. I think it would be fair to say that this is one of the most exhaustive, comprehensive reports on all things Indy IV available anywhere on the web. Hope you enjoy it.
Harrison Ford revealed at the Venice Film Festival that he was considering playing his most famous character one last time. (It's been long acknowledged and reported that Spielberg and Lucas were DONE with the Indiana Jones series, but Harrison Ford has been the one pushing for the fourth film.) A couple of months later, that “bastion of investigative journalism,” the Daily Mail, ran a story (titled "From Speed to Ford Escort") claiming that Sandra Bullock would play Indy's "sparky" sidekick in Indiana Jones And The Lost Continent, which allegedly concerned the fate of Atlantis, a rumor that Variety put to rest. "While Nazis and various cultists couldn't stop Indy, the lack of a suitable script has pushed back the fourth installment in the series for the time being," the article said.
By Oct, we knew that Jeffrey Boam was working on scripts for Indiana Jones IV and Lethal Weapon 4. In an article in Variety, Boam was quoted as saying that Spielberg wanted the pic to be shot almost entirely in L.A. Only one week will be on location, probably in Honduras. Russia had first been planned. "And," added Boam, Harrison Ford will play his own age, "so he can limp and/or wear glasses!" Apparently, Boam had been asked to flesh out the MacGuffin that Steven and Harrison didn’t want to do. Empire reported that the story concerned an attempt to foil a Soviet plot to establish a missile base on the moon, or had something to do with the UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico, or both. I can’t imagine why Ford and Spielberg wouldn’t want to do THAT. Poor Jeffrey.
In a Drew Babcock interview (which I can't find anymore), Spielberg assured the world that Atlantis had not been considered part of the scripting process and mentioned that the script "had to do with Adam and Eve." After Babcock did some digging, a source at Paramount told him that the title Indiana Jones and the Garden of Life was being tossed around. In May ‘96, a script entitled Indiana Jones And The Sons Of Darkness, which was credited to Boam, hit the web from someone who claimed to have lifted it from Lucasfilm's offices. As reported by Empire, “The script, which concerned a race by Indy to beat the Russians to the remnants of Noah's Ark, was removed from the web a day after its initial posting, fuelling rumors that it was genuine. But four months and several cease-and-desist notices later, ambitious Indy fan, Robert Smith 'fessed up to having written the bogus script.” Later, Kevin Costner was rumored to play Indy's 'bad seed' brother.
This is the year that brought us Chris Columbus’s Indiana Jones and the Monkey King. At the time, Columbus was known for writing and directing Goonies. He would later go on to direct a couple of Harry Potter films. In any case, the story of Monkey King had Indy, Marcus Brody, English anthropologist Dr. Clare Clarke and 'Scraggy', a Portuguese guide, on the trail of a legendary Chinese artifact, which was believed to hold the secret of eternal life. We would learn later that this was in fact, a rejected Indy 3 script. (The absence of Henry Jones Sr. would’ve been your first clue, and sadly, the actor who played Marcus Brody had passed away in ’92). Of this story, Justin Clark (Ugo Screenwriter’s voice) wrote, “Where Columbus commits his most cardinal sins is with the characters. Long story short, they're cartoons. Indy is an asympathetic womanizer, with only fleeting hints of confidence, and constantly being made the fool by his situations. Screwing up Indy right off the bat should've been where Columbus put the pen (well, nowadays, keyboard) down, and handed over script duties to someone else, but sadly, it doesn't stop there. He also sees fit to saddle Indy with a virtual army of stereotypes (particularly, the stiff, British female scientist who guides him to a stray member of the lost city, and the superstitious African who drives him and his crew around while spouting words of wisdom from his many gods) and annoying sidekicks, none more so than Betsy, a clinging, pain-in-the-ass harpy who, somehow, we're supposed to think has chemistry with Indy. If you thought Willie Scott's perpetual screaming was a problem, she'll look like Katherine Hepburn by comparison. Some of the script's most cringe-worthy moments come from her. And the second I realized the characterizations weren't getting any better, that's when I realized this script, no matter what came later, wouldn't work. And believe me...it does get worse, especially once Sun Wu Kung shows up.”
Also in ’97, there was the rumor (from the now defunct Corona site) in which Lucas told a Dutch TV magazine that Indy will have a son. In May '97, Spielberg told Variety that he, Lucas, and Ford are "tenacious" about a fourth "Indiana Jones." "We are totally committed to one -- if the story is right, of course." Speaking of tenacious, the rumor about his brother just would not die. Posted on the web was a note from an anonymous Paramount source who said that Indy would not only have a brother but he would also be cast by an unknown. In late '97, Corona got word about a minister and a theologian who were asked to do some historical accuracy checking on the Indy IV script. Apparently, the script dealt with the Garden of Eden and was very "religious in tone." Also in '97, Aint it Cool News spread the rumor about Indy being in his 50's searching for Noah's Ark and that Lawrence Kasdan was the writer. They also reported a rumor about a quest for Shangri-la, which was utterly baseless.
In January, Dark Horizons posted what it claimed to be the opening pages of another script, entitled Raiders of the Fallen Empire, which sounds like a reference to the Roman Empire, but apparently it had to do with Indy's discovery of the Garden of Eden. No matter. It was a hoax. (According to Corona, this debacle stressed out a few Paramount execs. Rumor has it that Lucas was very interested in “Fallen Empire,” but it was an unsolicited spec script, and he had not yet decided whether to purchase it. Even though there is still very little known about this script, the mere leaking of the title is said to have been enough to send blood pressures rising.) Later, rumors flew from Corona that Mark Hamill was being considered to play a villain in the Indy sequel. Hamill's "people," however, assured Cinescape that the rumor had no basis in fact. In May, Mr. Showbiz spoke with Jeffrey Boam about his rumored Lost Continent script. He said that he hadn't heard of anything called that, and in fact, he was told not to place a name on the script he turned in two years prior and had not heard anything about it since. In November, Lucas told those at the Screen Producers' Association conference held in Australia that the Indy IV script had been completed. He cited the availability of Ford and Spielberg as the remaining obstacle. However, later interviews with Ford and Spielberg would indicate that all were not in agreement with this script. Then there was the "Law of One" rumor in which Cinescape was handed a script where the action took place in 1953 and involved a "race to harness the power of the ancient device which was responsible for the destruction of Atlantis." Uh huh. Willie Scott also appeared in this script. '98 also brought us a new legitimate script, Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men From Mars, which came out of the blue and was apparently written by The Fugitive scribe Jeb Stuart from a story by Stuart and Lucas. Saucer Men From Mars concerned an alien artifact that constantly changes hands between Indy, Russian baddies, and a group of extra-terrestrials. Indy gets married to beautiful linguist Dr. Elaine McGregor, but the ceremony gets interrupted by the arrival of Elaine's ex-husband, Bolander who takers her away to White Sands, New Mexico. There, a spacecraft has crash-landed, killing its alien occupants and sparking a race between the Americans and Soviets to discover the secrets of the alien ship's fuel supply, a stone cylinder covered in hieroglyphics. The wedding was great fun.
There was the rumor that Dennis Lawson, the guy who played Wedge Antilles in Star Wars, was set to portray Belloq's brother seeking revenge for the events of Raiders, which was flatly denied. And then there was the Sword of Arthur script, which was a hoax. However, the pranksters cleverly peppered their pages with "Property of Lucasfilm Ltd," which made it almost feel real. The story had to do with the search for King Arthur's magical sword, Excalibur, which was reputedly hidden on Enigma Island, a small isle off the Spanish coast, six centuries earlier. The Nazis are after it, too, as are the surviving descendants of the original Knights of the Round Table. Indy and his companions - Including Anthony Brody (Marcus' son) and Arianna Smith (a kind of female Indy, as might be guessed from the name) - recover the sword, only to have it snatched from their grasp by the arm of a woman who reaches up from the Atlantic Ocean to reclaim it forever. (Indy loses an eye during one fight and has to wear an eye-patch the rest of the film.) The “aspiring writers,” Steven Frye and Michael Prentice, claimed to have been duped into parting with the script, unaware it would be touted as the real thing.
Lest we forget, 1999 also brought us Indiana Jones and the Red Scare, which hit the web on July 17. This 12-page treatment, as reported by Empire, “allegedly seen by someone working at Industrial Light & Magic, was set in the early 1950s, as Indy is retained by Eisenhower's administration to find out about the Russians' retrieval of artifacts found in Hitler's bunker. No one has ever owned up to the treatment.”
There was the rumor that Natalie Portman, while on the set of Star Wars, asked Lucas if she could play the role of Indy's daughter, Idaho. Spielberg told an Italian newspaper, “Actually, I have to answer that same question all the time: 'Dad, when are you going to film a new Indiana Jones movie?' But tonight I want to make a promise - Indiana Jones is coming back soon.” That was seven years ago. Then there was M. Night Shyamalan, who, fresh off his success from Sixth Sense, admitted on The Howard Stern Show that he'd met with Spielberg, was in early talks to do something with Indy, and that he would love to write the script. Shortly thereafter, Variety reported that Shyamalan was on board to write the new script and that filming would begin in 2002. But then we’re told scheduling didn’t work out. Uh huh. Harrison Ford described his departure as "the failure of George and Steven to attend to him." Lucas admitted he would not be able to give the project his full attention until he completed the new Star Wars trilogy… in 2005.
On a side note - Jeffrey Boam, one of the first reported Indy IV screenwriters would pass away this year due to heart disease, sadly. You just have to love Jeffrey Boam. He wrote some fun scripts – Innerspace, The Dead Zone, The Lost Boys, Funny Farm, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and of course, Lethal Weapon 2 and 3. We’ll miss you, buddy.
What? No fake scripts this year? I’m disappointed.
In January, we’re told that they already have a title. Spielberg said, “Kate is in it.” Ford is quoted as saying that they finally have “the right script.” But then, in February, Empire reported that they approached Stephen Gaghan to write a new screenplay, which didn’t work out. In April, Empire reported that they’re courting Tom Stoppard to write a new screenplay. A couple of days later, Lucas confessed, "There is a scene where a lot of Indy's ex-girlfriends show up, but they are not major characters." This had to have been a direct reference to Jeb Stuart’s script, an idea that apparently everyone still wants to use. In May, we’re given the news that Frank Darabont has taken the helm as the new screenwriter. In July, we learn that the story will be set in the 1950s, and there will be no Nazis. In December 2002, while promoting Catch Me if You Can, Spielberg said he planned to shoot two films before Indiana Jones 4 in 2004 for a release the year after. He also dismissed shooting it digitally.
Frank Marshall said that there will be no son for Indiana Jones. He said, "We're sticking with Indy on his own. He still gets around pretty good." Really. In June '03, Variety told us that Frank Darabont whipped Indiana Jones 4 into shape for a 2004 start. Woo hoo! In August, Darabont said the words that brought such warmth to my heart: "I absolutely don't want to do things like having him say, 'I'm getting too old for this shit...' I don't want to be slipping and sliding in cliches. This character is no longer in the 1930s. He has to age honestly. He's got to be in the 1950s." Amen to that. In September, Ford told Variety: "Steven Spielberg and myself have reserved time in 2004 to begin shooting." (Some claim that Darabont’s title was Indiana Jones and the City of Gods.) Also in September, the question about the use of CGI came up, and Frank Marshall told Empire: “I think we're going to try and rely, like the first two movies, on realism and not try to do too many things with the computer... When you start getting into computers you get fantastical situations like in the Matrix or movies like that. We don't want that, we want exciting heroism, we want seat-of-your-pants, skin-of-your-teeth action. We didn't have all the money in the world on the first films and we want to keep that B-Movie feel. We want to make Indy 4 like we made the first three.”
And finally, a UK website for women called FemaleFirst alleged that an insider on the production told them that Spielberg told Ford to "'get off of any and all exercise programs.' It's been 15 years since the last Indy movie and obviously Harrison has got a lot older but that's not a problem for this movie," the "insider" told FemaleFirst. "Steven doesn't want a middle-aged guy trying to look young — he wants to bring a new type of hero to the screen. He's going to be older and wiser and a lot less physical than Indy of old." Oh. Hmm.
In January, Darabont turned in his script. "I've finished my work,” he said, “now it's in the hands of God, or Spielberg and Lucas if you prefer.” But a month later, Lucas rejected Darabont’s script despite the fact that Spielberg was so excited about this script that he told Darabont this was the “best draft of anything since Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Darabont said, “The project went down in flames. Steven and I looked like accident victims the day we got that call. I certainly don't blame Steven for it. He wasn't in a position to overrule George, and wouldn't have overruled him even if he could. He and George have been close friends for a long time, and they've had an agreement for years that no Indiana Jones film will ever get made unless they both completely agreed on the script. It was just such an awful surprise, after all my hopes and effort. I really felt I'd nailed it, and so did Steven.”
In October, we learn that Jeff Nathanson, writer of Catch Me If You Can, was brought in to do the rewrite. Not only that, it was a PAGE ONE rewrite. Spielberg would later say in an interview that none of Darabont's script will be used. At all. Zip. All we will know about Nathanson’s script is that he moved it back to the '40s. Later that year, while shooting War of the Worlds, Spielberg met with stuntman Vic Armstrong to discuss three stunt sequences he had envisioned.
In January, Ford gave a deadline and said that if they didn’t make this movie by 2008, forget about it. Later that month, Spielberg confirmed that Indiana Jones 4 will be his next film, calling it "the sweet dessert I give those who had to chow down on the bitter herbs that I've used in Munich.” He would later say he’s “taking a year off.” In May, Lucas is quoted in Time Magazine as saying that he didn’t plan to make anymore Indy films. In June, Ford made a joke at a press conference that the working title of Indy IV was Indiana Jones and the Opal of the Mer-Man Prince. The news spread like wildfire across the web, and a week later, Spielberg had to issue an official statement to kill the story. A few months later, there was also the rumor about Spielberg visiting the set of Memoirs of a Geisha and telling Michelle Yeoh he still wants her for Indy IV. (Her agency reported in '98 that she met with him to discuss her role in Indy IV.) Close to the end of the year, we’re told that Nathanson’s script was "finished" and "approved."
Apparently, Nathanson’s script was NOT "finished" and "approved," because in February, Entertainment Weekly reported that Spielberg himself was working on the script. May '06, Frank Marshall confirmed that there might be a desert. Oh. Nice. Then, on June 23, David Koepp was hired to polish the script. It would be “due” in a few months. He’s Spielberg’s trusted “closer.” Really. And then came Connery's official retirement despite Lucas' public assurance that he will push him into doing it. In an August ’06 interview in Empire Magazine, Lucas said, “We’re basically going to do The Phantom Menace. People’s expectations are way higher than you can deliver. You could just get killed for the whole thing… We would do it for fun and just take the hit with the critics and the fans.” (I don't know about you, but as a screenwriter, as a lifelong lover of movies and Spielberg and Lucas and Indiana Jones, that sends CHILLS up my spine.) The article went on to say that the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation freed up an idea for a plot that was originally deemed too incendiary. “I discovered a McGuffin,” continued Lucas. “I told the guys about it and they were a little dubious, but it’s the best one we’ve ever found… Unfortunately, it was a little too ‘connected’ for the others. They were afraid of what the critics would think. They said, 'Can’t we do it with a different McGuffin? Can’t we do this?' and I said 'No.' So we pottered around with that for a couple of years. Then Harrison really wanted to do it and Steve said, 'Okay.' I said, 'We’ll have to go back to that original MacGuffin and take out the offending parts and still use that area of the supernatural do deal with it.'” Hmm. In Sep '06, Karen Allen may have reignited rumors that Indy will have a daughter. (That rumor has been recently squashed.) And then, of course, in December 29, 2006, Ford, Lucas, and Spielberg confirmed that they will be shooting the movie, which will be released May 22, 2008. Production will start on June 18, 2007. All we know is that it will be a “character piece” with “very interesting mysteries.”
Do you know what the picture above is? No, it's not the government warehouse where they stored the Ark of the Covenant. This is, in fact, where they store all of the Indy IV drafts. Hehehe...
Official Indiana Jones site
Raider.net’s Indy 4 Page
SpielbergFilms.com’s Indy 4 Page
Slash Film’s Indy 4 News Page
Rotten Tomatoes’ Indy 4 News Page
ComingSoon.net’s Indy 4 Page
Raven’s Definitive Indy 4 Speculation Index
Raiders of the Lost Ark (Third Draft, August 1979)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Undated, unspecified)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Undated, unspecified)
Legitimate but rejected Scripts:
Chris Columbus’ Indiana Jones and the Monkey King
Jeb Stuart’s Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars (zip file)
Honest and Dishonest Fakes:
Fake Indiana Jones Scripts
Fan Fiction here and here.