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How Spielberg’s failed James Bond movie changed cinematic history

Steven Spielberg pitched a James Bond movie not once but three times and was rejected but that led to one of the most iconic adventure movies in history

How Spielberg's failed James Bond movie changed cinematic history

Like so many filmmakers, Steven Spielberg wanted to make a James Bond movie. There was just one problem, the Brocollis (the people who own the rights to the super spy) kept turning him down. While that probably felt like a huge blow to the then-young director, it set him on a different path, a path that gave us one of the most iconic characters in movie history, Indiana Jones.

Yes, with his trademark hat and impractical bullwhip, Indiana Jones is undeniably a modern legend of the silver screen. But before Harrison Ford had slipped on his brown khakis, though, the character was just a glint in George Lucas’s eye, but the mastermind behind the Star Wars movies had big dreams for his daring archaeologist.

And who better to help him make those dreams come true than his good friend Spielberg? There was just one problem; poor Steve was a bit distracted by the spy movie rejection. Ever the canny salesman, though, Lucas managed to sell the Jaws director on his whip-cracking tomb raider with his silver tongue.

According to Spielberg, Lucas claimed the Indiana Jones movies were “better” than James Bond before a single second of the film had been captured on celluloid. Spielberg said as much during an interview with the DGA, where they were discussing the origin of these legendary adventure movies.

Apparently, the pair were sitting on a beach in Hawaii, having left mainland America to escape the press around Star Wars, when Lucas pitched the films.

“I came to Hawaii to sort of hold George’s hand the day Star Wars opened in 1977,” Spielberg explained. “When the phone rang, and he found out that every single 10:30 am show throughout the entire nation had been sold out, George became euphoric, to say the least, and, in his euphoria, immediately began thinking about the future. And he asked me what I was doing next.”

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“I said I wasn’t sure, but I wanted to try again to get Cubby Broccoli to let me direct one of the James Bond films,” he continued. “Cubby, by the way, had twice turned me down when I asked if I could direct a James Bond film. And George said I’ve got something better than James Bond. It’s called Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

The rest, as they say, is history, and Spielberg has directed every Indiana Jones film since; well, all of them except the upcoming Indiana Jones 5. The film series has done extremely well, earning an estimated $1,987,858,990 worldwide and cementing Harrison Ford’s place as a leading man.

Would Indiana Jones have been made without Spielberg? Probably but let’s be honest, this is the guy behind some of the best movies of all time. They wouldn’t have been the same without his magic touch.