Unusual 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' script comes to Auction

Unusual 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' script comes to Auction

One of the more unusual and exciting lots in our Thursday 14th March Spring Specialist Auction is a ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ (1981) draft screenplay film script - revised third draft.


In 1973 George Lucas had an idea to make an old-fashioned B Movie starring an archaeologist adventurer.  The main character was originally going to be called Indiana Smith, after Lucas’ Alaskan Malamute dog. In 1975 Philip Kaufman and George Lucas spent two weeks working on the idea.  Kaufman introduced the Ark of the Covenant ‘MacGuffin’ idea and hoped to direct, but due to other commitments, he became unavailable.  In May 1977 Lucas with his friend Steven Spielberg holidayed in Hawaii to escape potentially bad news and reviews of Star Wars.  Spielberg was hoping to direct a James Bond film but his interest in the Indiana Smith project started. Spielberg introduced Lucas to Lawrence Kasdan and Kasdan began writing the screenplay.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) draft screenplay film script - revised third draft. Original third draft dated 3rd June 1979 with later revisions dated 3rd August 1979,

Pre-production started in December 1979 using a fourth draft which had been completed in November 1979.  Our script contains most of the main elements we would know from the finished film and is the third revised draft dated 3rd June 1979 with later revisions dated 3rd August 1979

This revised third draft does however contain elements that didn't make the final film such as the finale being a mine cart escape (an element used in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), the character of Shliemann is present (this character would later be renamed Colonel Hermann Dietrich with a different story arc), and the character Belzig is present (this character would become Toht played by Ronald Lacey), etc.

Ideas already dropped included sequences set in Shanghai (later re-imagined for Temple of Doom), the Staff of Ra being in two pieces, and a bad guy with a mechanical arm.

Raiders would go on to be the highest-grossing film of 1981, earning $354 million worldwide. As well as a critical success it would spawn four sequels, television series, comic books, and theme park rides.

This copy was gifted to the vendor (who has worked in the film/TV industry) by a colleague.