'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull': A primer
Now that the veil of secrecy surrounding "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" has been breached – with hard drives and thousands of on-set photos missing and Lucasfilm lawyers swiftly squelching leaks – it's time to map the 13-year odyssey of the project – from hoax scripts and Atlantis plots to the rumors that continue to swirl around the production.

Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf, John Hurt, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent and Karen Allen, the fourth film in the series is due in theaters May 22, 2008, 19 years after the last installment.

Many incarnations of the film have circulated on the Internet, with entire scripts posted as well. "Indiana Jones and the Garden of Life" has Jones traveling to Africa in search of immortality-granting fruit from a Chinese monkey god, while "Indiana Jones and the Sons of Darkness" seems pretty close to reported plotlines. Here Indiana meets his son, both on the hunt for Noah's Ark and a mysterious skull. It remains to be seen if these, or any of the posted screenplays, are actual drafts.

Fake titles (from mysterymanonfilm.com):

"Indiana Jones and the Staff of Moses"

"Indiana Jones and the Shores of Avalon"

"Indiana Jones and the Jade Princess"

"Indiana Jones and the Raiders of Time"

"Indiana Jones and the Ravages of Time"

The Facts
  • The film is set in 1957 with an older Indiana Jones. Hawaii stands in for a South American rainforest. New Mexico stands in for Morocco. Indy will face direct conflict with aliens, or at least the bureaucrats at Area 51.
  • Shooting began June 18, 2007, in a building at the former airstrip in Deming, N.M. The building was painted blue and sported a USAF insignia and "Home of the Fighter Pilot" on an exterior wall, with World War II Air Force vehicles parked nearby.
  • The production then moved to Yale University in New Haven, Conn., for an extensive chase scene, in which Indy rides his bike through the Commons, Yale's dining hall. The scene appears near the beginning of the movie.
  • The biggest action sequences took place in Hawaii, where 20% of the film was shot on private property. Shooting is now based in Downey, Calif., where 50% of the film will be shot.
1994: Harrison Ford says at the Venice Film Festival that he's considering playing Indy one last time. Sandra Bullock is rumored to be on tap as his sidekick.

1995: Variety quotes one Indy screenwriter as saying that Spielberg wanted to shoot the film in L.A. and Honduras. Plot points alluded to in the piece include an attempt by Indy to foil a Soviet plot to establish a missile base on the moon, and something involving a UFO crash at Roswell, N.M.

1996: Spielberg says the script has nothing to do with Atlantis, but rather Adam and Eve. A Paramount source says "Indiana Jones and the Garden of Life" was tossed around. Kevin Costner and Tom Selleck are rumored to play Indy's "bad seed' brother.

1997: Chris Columbus takes a crack at an Indy script with "Indiana Jones and the Monkey King." A rumor floats that George Lucas has told Dutch TV that Indy will have a son. A Paramount source mentions Indy will have a brother. "Garden of Eden" script is said to have a religious tone. Aintitcoolnews.com spreads a rumor that Indy's in his 50s and is searching for Noah's Ark.

1998: Mark Hammill is rumored to have been cast as a villain. Lucas says an Indy IV script is complete. Another script surfaces on Cinescape that deals with a "race to harness the power of the ancient device which was responsible for the destruction of Atlantis." A legitimate script is released titled "Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men From Mars," concerning an alien artifact that passes among Indy, Russians and aliens.

1999: An "Indiana Jones and the Red Scare" script treatment, set in the early 1950s with Indy seeking artifacts retrieved from Hitler's bunker by the Russians, surfaces on the Web. No one claims it.

2000: M. Night Shyamalan tells Howard Stern he's in talks to write the next script. But Lucas says he can't commit to the project until 2005.

2002: Spielberg says Kate Capshaw is in the film and that he wants to shoot in 2004 with a 2005 release. The story is said to be set in the 1950s and involve no Nazis.