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John Williams, forever a legend, just went ahead and debuted new Indiana Jones 5 music way early

‘Helena’s Theme’ was written for Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s new ‘adventurous’ character

Indiana Jones crosses a bridge in shadow in a still from the untitled Indiana Jones 5 movie Image: Walt Disney Pictures
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

Make way for a new Indiana Jones movie and a new (and final) John Williams movie score.

Between Lucasfilm’s aggressive Star Wars slate and Disney’s emphasis on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it can be hard to remember that 2023 will see a brand new Indiana Jones, once again starring Harrison Ford. This time around, Steven Spielberg steps into a producing role and hands over directing duties to James Mangold (Ford vs. Ferrari, Logan), with Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge stepping into a major lead role (which is rumored to be a passing of the torch for potential sequels). Mads Mikkelsen, Antonio Banderas, Toby Jones, and Shaunette Renée Wilson round out the cast. This should be big.

But whether the whip-slinging archaeologist has the blockbuster cred to draw back moviegoers, in the vein of successful throwbacks like Jurassic World and Top Gun: Maverick, is a big unknown. Despite provoking some of the worst reviews in Spielberg’s career, the previous entry in the Indiana Jones series, 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, netted over $700 million worldwide. And looking back... well, it has some good scenes! Forget the CG monkeys and enjoy a wild motorcycle chase with Mr. Mutt Williams and the now-iconic/memetic nuking of the fridge. There’s a reason to think a new sequel could fly.

So, can the untitled Indiana Jones 5 overcome the sour taste of Crystal Skull to put the series to rest on a high note? (Or better yet in this IP-harvesting era, begin something new with Waller-Bridge?) One piece of the puzzle is sure to be gold no matter what: John Williams’ score.

The 90-year-old composer, who has worked in the biz since the 1950s and with Spielberg since the director’s debut, 1974’s The Sugarland Express, returns next summer to wrap his run with one of his most successful franchises. Williams has said the score for Indiana Jones 5 will be his last, marking his official retirement, and based on a performance at the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 2, he’s going out with a bang. The composer and conductor has a long history with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl venue, so it’s no surprise he took a moment during the recent concert to unveil a new piece: “Helena’s Theme.”

Written for Waller-Bridge’s new character, Williams said Mangold gave him permission to debut the piece nearly nine months before the release date. As for the sound, he said in his introduction that he drew directly from the Helena character.

“She’s adventurous, and she’s also a femme fatale. She’s many, many things. Her music… she has lyrical music like an old movie star, except she’s young and beautiful and wonderful.”

Watch an unofficial video shared by Mangold on Twitter from the concert above. Indiana Jones 5 will release in theaters on June 30, 2023. Could Williams’ musical signal more to come out of the upcoming Disney D23 Expo? We’ll be keeping our eyes and ears open during the Lucasfilm panel, so check back next weekend for more.