To hear him talk, you'd think George Lucas would have preferred to call his movie "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Don't Get Your Hopes Up".
Lucas, who co-wrote and produced the May 22 film, can sound downright sullen when it comes to his expectations of fan reaction to the year's most highly anticipated movie.
"When you do a movie like this, a sequel that's very, very anticipated, people anticipate ultimately that it's going to be the Second Coming," Lucas says. "And it's not. It's just a movie. Just like the other movies. You probably have fond memories of the other movies. But if you went back and looked at them, they might not hold up the same way your memory holds up."
The remarks appear to be part of a larger strategy to build interest yet temper expectations for the fourth installment of the "Indiana Jones" franchise. Only one trailer is playing, and when director Steven Spielberg shows up for talk shows, he doesn't bring footage.
Lucas says he learned his lesson about unrealistic expectations when he revived the "Star Wars" franchise in 1999. "When people approach the new ('Indiana Jones'), much like they did with 'Phantom Menace,' they have a tendency to be a little harder on it," he says. "You're not going to get a lot of accolades doing a movie like this. All you can do is lose."
Except when it comes to money. Analysts expect it to rake in well more than double its reported budget of $125 million. But Lucas says that doesn't hold much sway for him, Spielberg and Harrison Ford.
"We came back to do ('Indy') because we wanted to have fun," he says. "It's not going to make much money for us in the end. We all have some money. … It would make a lot of money if you weren't rich. But we're not doing it for the money."
It's fan and critic reaction for which the team is bracing, but Lucas says he has quit trying to appeal to everyone. "It was really a blast" to make. "And it turned out fantastic. … I like to watch it."
Lucas concedes that it will be impossible to water down expectations, even among fellow filmmakers.
"The Dark Knight" director Christopher Nolan met Lucas at the ShoWest convention this month and says he's impatient to see the competition. "Come on, he's George Lucas," Nolan says. "I felt like I should have kissed the ring."