Indy fans, mark your calendars.
Paramount Pictures has confirmed the long-awaited fourth adventure in George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones series will unspool nationwide on May 22, 2008.
After a 19-year layoff, Harrison Ford will dust off the fedora as the intrepid archeologist when filming begins this June. And by the time Indy 4 (the film doesn't have an official title yet) swings into theaters the following spring, the action star will be cashing Social Security checks.
But that's cool with the film's brain trust. When Spielberg and Lucas announced that the project was finally a go last month, after the latter approved a script by David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Spider-Man), the filmmakers revealed their plan to address the age issue in the latest chapter, which is set in the 1950s and features a somewhat creaky, if still capable Dr. Jones.
By planting its summer tent pole ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, Paramount is trying to set itself up to make a bajillion dollars.
But Indy may have more to fear than snakes this time out.
Paramount's Iron Man, due out on May 2, should still be a box-office contender. May 16 is the day Disney unveils The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the second entry in its film franchise based on C.S. Lewis' famed fantasy novels. Then, one day after Indy 4's premiere, Warner Bros. is expected to release its big-screen version of the classic 'toon Speed Racer, produced by Joel Silver and helmed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, the brothers' first directing vehicle since 2003's The Matrix Revolutions.
On the casting side, unconfirmed rumors are flying around the Web that Indy 4 may feature cameos from at least one of Ford's former leading ladies, either Karen Allen, who played the feisty Marion Ravenwood in 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Kate Capshaw, aka Mrs. Spielberg, who essayed whiny nightclub singer Willie Scott in 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
There's still no word whether Sean Connery will return as Indy's dad. Lucas, Spielberg and Ford all want him back, and the semi-retired Oscar winner told the BBC's Teletext service last month he's considering the reunion.
"At the moment, there's nothing decided. I haven't got the script. Everything depends on the script," Connery said.
Lucas has previously stated that Connery's character was included in the story "whether he wants to do it or not."
As for Koepp, who was just graduating high school when Raiders came out, the scribe has remained tight-lipped about the plot, but in a recent interview with FilmStew, he discussed the pressures of writing for such a famous character.
"The first thing you realize is that this is a beloved character, probably one of the most in film history, and a lot of people are going to be angry no matter what I do. I'm going to get my ass handed to me on some level, even by my fellow filmmakers or the audience," Koepp said.
"So, you just accept all that and go and do the best thing you can with as much love as you can."
He did however drop a few hints about what audiences can or can't expect.
"You can't write a fan script," Koepp added. "You have to pretend that this movie exists without the other one. The worst thing to do would be to have him make reference to things he said in the first movie, like to pun on lines of dialogue."
This week, longtime Spielberg cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, who has shot every one of the Hollywood director's films since 1993's Best Picture winner Schindler's List, confirmed to a Polish newspaper that he will be the director of photography on Indy 4, replacing legendary cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, who filmed all three entries before retiring after 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Kaminski also revealed that the production will once again be a global affair, shooting not only in Los Angeles but taking advantage of various locales the world over.