“It was turned down by practically every studio”: Steven Spielberg’s ‘Indiana Jones’ Franchise Almost Died Tragic Death Before George Lucas Made a Dangerous Bet 

Steven Spielberg's 'Indiana Jones' Franchise Almost Died Tragic Death Before George Lucas Made a Dangerous Bet 

Despite rising to prominence following the success of critically adored Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Steven Spielberg had a hard time getting his most iconic franchise running. While the latest installment in Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones franchise didn’t meet the expectations that fans had from the franchise, this doesn’t dilute the decades-long legacy of the iconic IP.

However, the daredevil archeologist might not have seen the end of the tunnel if it wasn’t for Star Wars creator George Lucas, whose adamancy helped Spielberg craft Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Also read: Insolent Director’s Repeated Usage of ‘Whale’ Landed Steven Spielberg $476M Movie That Became Hollywood’s First Ever Summer Blockbuster

Harrison Ford in Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark
Harrison Ford | Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark Had a Hard Time Getting Financed

Often regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, Raiders of the Lost Ark‘s impact on pop culture is indisputable. But just like any Indiana Jones quest, getting the film greenlit was full of struggles for George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. And one factor that alleviated their chances of getting studios in was the hefty budget. Considering most studios didn’t want to risk investing a big amount on an IP with no existing fanbase, it’s obvious why the film struggled to get made.

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“‘Raiders’ was turned down by practically every studio in town. They thought it would be a successful movie but didn’t trust the budget: $20 million.” George Lucas said.

Things eventually worked out after George Lucas made “a very tough deal” that “broke a lot of precedents that no one wanted to break”.  However, the studios weren’t quite sold on Steven Spielberg’s leadership after the failure of his last major film, but George Lucas didn’t budge under their pressure.

Also read: “I can’t handle this. I’m not a puppet”: Liam Neeson Despised His Arguably Best Role In $322M Steven Spielberg Movie Because Of Director’s Strange Demands That Upset Him

George Lucas
George Lucas

Studios Didn’t Want Steven Spielberg to Lead the Movie

Despite being the man behind acclaimed classics like Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the studios weren’t inclined to greenlight Raiders of the Lost Ark under Steven Spielberg’s leadership. Considering Spielberg dropped the ball with 1941, Paramount wanted George Lucas to get another director if he wanted the movie to get made. But being a great friend to Spielberg and having extreme confidence in Spielberg’s skills as a filmmaker, Lucas fought tooth and nail to get Spielberg on board. Lucas recalled,

“I was committed to Steven. We’d had a long talk about how we were going to make the movie. I trusted Steven. He had directed television. He knew how to do what had to be done.” 

Also read: “I was going for with a vengeance”: Michael Bay Turned Down Steven Spielberg to Direct $350M Sandra Bullock Breakout Movie With Keanu Reeves That Left Him Heartbroken

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas

As the story goes, Steven Spielberg proved George Lucas right, crafting the highest-grossing film of 1981 and more importantly kickstarting one of the most iconic franchises in film history.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is available to stream on Paramount Plus.

Source: Empire Magazine

Written by Santanu Roy

Santanu Roy is a film enthusiast with a deep love for the medium of animation while also being obsessed with Batman and The Everly Brothers. Apart from pursuing animation and analyzing movies, he possesses a deep fondness for narrative-driven games and is currently a content writer at Fandomwire with over 800 articles.