By Robert Moran
Steven Spielberg says his blockbuster Indiana Jones franchise is ready for a fresh take – with a woman in the lead role.
“We’d have to change the name from Jones to Joan,” he told the UK’s Sun. “And there would be nothing wrong with that.”
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The franchise has earned around $US2 billion globally since it launched with 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark with Harrison Ford.
Ford has played the archaeologist-come-adventurer in three sequels to date – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) – and will begin shooting the fifth installment in the UK next April. The film is slated for a July 2020 release date.
“This will be Harrison Ford’s last Indiana Jones movie, I am pretty sure, but it will certainly continue after that,” Spielberg told The Sun.
He said he understood the decision to cast a woman in the role might “risk fan fury”, but believes it’s time the explorer took “a different form” after Ford hangs up the iconic hat.
Similar gender-flips in Hollywood’s cherished franchises, including Ghostbusters and the upcoming Ocean’s 8 led by Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, have been notorious lightning rods for misogynistic backlash.
True to form, fanboys were already squealing with indignation over Spielberg’s off-the-cuff comment.
“How lame,” went one viral tweet, adding that Tomb Raider‘s Lara Croft already fits the description.
Others criticised Spielberg’s feminine signifier, questioning why Jones’ surname would require an update.
In the interview, Spielberg further discussed his dedication to gender equality following the movie industry’s recent scandals, saying he has “long insisted” on pay parity between his actors and actresses.
“On The Post, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep got the same pay cheque exactly, right down to the perks,” he said.
The director and his wife actress Kate Capshaw are among the biggest donors to Hollywood’s #TimesUp campaign against workplace harassment, contributing $US2 million to its legal defense fund.
Spielberg’s latest film Ready Player One opened locally with $3.9 million last week, to top the Australian box office over the Easter weekend.