Rock Gods

Harrison Ford Says New Indiana Jones Paid "A Million Dollars" For One Iconic Rock Song

Indy himself reveals why THAT song opened the movie.

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Harrison Ford photographed in 1982 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Image...
Walter McBride/Corbis Historical/Getty Images

Let’s all get up and dance to a song, that was a hit before Indiana Jones was born! In anticipation of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny hitting theaters soon, Harrison Ford attended the Taormina Film Festival. In a moving discussion, he spoke with Mike Flemming Jr. from Dateline about why he wanted to revisit his role as Indiana Jones, mainly because Ford is now 80 years old. While talking about why it was important to him, Ford also revealed how much they paid to use an iconic rock song in one scene of the new Indiana Jones movie — and why it was worth the expense.

SPOILER ALERT: The following contains some spoilers for what to expect in the upcoming movie Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, out in theaters on June 30.

“The reason I wanted to do another Indiana Jones film was because of my current age. I wanted to see Indiana Jones as an older man,” Ford told Flemming while on stage at the film festival. “I wanted to see him dealing with the loss of his youth, dealing with the loss of his vigor, dealing with the fact that he's teaching archeology to people that had given rats a-- about what he's talking about in the past."

The movie still takes place in the past, but it’s the future for Indiana. At the beginning of the movie, the time is set in 1944, and Indiana looks like how we remembered him from the last movie (thanks to digital technology!). But that’s only for the opening sequence — most of the movie is set 25 years later — in 1969. And to help put the viewer in that headspace, the movie used an iconic rock song of that year, and it wasn’t cheap to secure the rights.

“The reason I was sitting in the char with my back to the cameras with an empty glass in my hand ... oh well, it's a sign we know what that means,” Ford said, explaining the scene and how the movie sets up the time period and Jones’s struggles. “And then the rock and roll music. Well, they paid $1,000,000 for that rock and roll music. It's pretty iconic music that brought us right back to that space,” he said. Last chance to avoid a minor spoiler!

Harrison Ford and Ethann Isidore in Dial of Destiny.


So, which song did the movie pay a million dollars for to help set the scene that they were in 1969? “Magical Mystery Tour,” by The Beatles — which explains its major price tag. Here’s the minor spoiler: In the trailer, “Sympathy For the Devil” by the Rolling Stones plays as old Indy wakes up in his NYC apartment. But, in the movie, it’s the song “Magical Mystery Tour,” the opening track to the 1967 album of the same name. “Magical Mystery Tour” was never released as a single, which means, in 1969, Indiana Jones has next-door neighbors who are playing the actual album itself.

Trying to license an actual song by The Beatles has been notoriously difficult. According to The New York Times, “covers of Beatles songs turn up in various media, but the band’s own recordings are rarely heard on television or in films,” and that’s because the people who hold the rights are really picky. And when they allow the use of the original songs, they come at a very large price. In 2022 the film Glass Onionnamed after the Beatles song “Glass Onion” — featured the White Album track over the closing credits. No word on how much Rian Johnson had to borrow from Daniel Craig to get the rights to that one.

Last week, Ford sat down with Chris Wallace to talk about his final role in the Indiana Jones series and why he was glad to be able to play the same part one more time.

“Six years ago, I thought maybe we ought to take a shot at making another one,” Ford said. “And I wanted it to be about age because I think that rounds out the story that we've told, and we’ve brought it to the right place.”

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens in theaters on June 30.

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