George Lucas Says Indiana Jones Will Return In May 2008

'We feel that the script was well worth the wait,' director Steven Spielberg says of long-in-development sequel.

“It’s not the years,” Indiana Jones tells Marion Ravenwood as she nurses his bruised and battered body back to health in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” “It’s the mileage.”

Twenty-five years later and the line still fits — as does the hat, jacket and leather whip, apparently, as producer George Lucas announced over the weekend that the long-in-development “Indiana Jones 4″ will go into production this year with a May 2008 target release date (see “George Lucas Says Indiana’s Next Crack Of The Whip Will Be Tamer” ).

Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford will also return, Variety reported, for the latest adventure of the globe-trotting and Nazi-hating — how does one say it? — “obtainer of rare antiquities.”

“It’s going to be fantastic,” Lucas told The Associated Press at the Tournament of Roses Parade. “It’s going to be the best one yet.”

If May ’08 holds, it will have been 19 years between sequels. The long lag time is in part due to a seemingly never-ending parade of screenwriters, from “Last Crusade” writer Jeffrey Boam (who died in early 2000) to Chris Columbus, M. Night Shyamalan and Frank Darabont. Scripter David Koepp penned the screenplay for the yet-untitled fourth installment. “We feel that the script was well worth the wait,” Spielberg told Variety. “We hope it delivers everything you’d expect from Indiana Jones. George, Harrison and I are all very excited.”

Although no story line has been released, it’s a safe bet Jones will once again search for an object of immense value. In an interview with U.K. film magazine Empire, Lucas seemed to indicate that the object would be somehow controversial and “connected” to the others (which were all religious in nature).

“I discovered a MacGuffin,” Lucas said. “I told the guys about it and they were a little dubious about it, 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,” Lucas said. “They said, ’Can’t we do it with a different MacGuffin? Can’t we do this?’ and I said ’No.’ So we pottered around with that for a couple of years. And then Harrison really wanted to do it, and Steve said, ’OK.’ I said, ’We’ll have to go back to that original MacGuffin and take out the offending parts of it and we’ll still use that area of the supernatural to deal with it.’ ”

Using Lucas’ quote as a rudimentary guideline, possible objects for Indiana to search for include: Noah’s Ark, Joshua’s trumpet (which could be sought as the ultimate weapon), the Garden of Eden or even the Dead Sea scrolls, the real-life discovery of which took place between 1947 and 1956. Internet buzz has also long speculated that Jones could be searching for nonreligious mythological artifacts such as the fabled lost city of Atlantis, the Fountain of Youth or even alien visitation.

While we don’t yet know what Jones will be searching for, we almost certainly know when he’ll do the searching. To account for Ford’s advancing age, Lucas told MTV News, the fourth flick will take place well after the events of the previous three films — which were all more or less contemporary to the years leading up to World War II (see “George Lucas Talks Retirement, Brand-New Film, ’Indy 4,’ ’Star Wars’ “ ).

“I’m delighted to be back in business with my old friends,” Ford joked in a statement. “I don’t know if the pants still fit, but I know the hat will.”

As of today, no word has been released on possible other castmembers, although Sean Connery, as the popular Henry Jones Sr., is expected by many to be offered a role.

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