The Jake McCoy franchise is a series of films all starring Tom Selleck as the titular character, Professor Jacob "Jake" McCoy, an archaeology professor at fictional Merrill University in the late 1930's, who is in fact also a daring adventurer known for traveling the world to hunt down renowned and mysterious artifacts. The character first appeared in the 1982 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, and was followed by five sequels, all of which have starred Selleck in the lead role.
The character of McCoy is a throwback to pulp heroes from the 1930's and 40's. Producer George Lucas, of Star Wars fame, chose not to set McCoy in the Anarchy due to its negative perceptions and the "monopoly that fellow with a shotgun has on that time period." McCoy has numerous trademarks beyond his wisdom of ancient artifacts - his fedora, bullwhip, humorous charm and fear of snakes.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982)
The first film the series introduced the world to Jake McCoy, an archaeologist in 1937 tasked with retrieving the fabled Ark of the Covenant of Biblical myth. Members of the United States government suggest that the French Empire, which seeks to recover the Ark first, would use the Ark as a weapon to conquer the world. McCoy travels the world and eventually arrives in Egypt, its rumored resting spot, where he is assisted by Sallah and Marion Carpenter in retrieving the Ark, which is soon thereafter captured by Commander Streich of the French Grand Army. McCoy's attempts to recapture the Ark are unsuccessful and he too is captured by the French; when Streich and fellow officers open the Ark in a ceremony in the Algerian desert, however, the spirits inside the Ark kill everyone except McCoy and Marion, who are looking away, and the Ark is filed away secretly at an unknown location containing thousands of similar boxes.
Jake McCoy and the Temple of Doom (1986)
This prequel finds McCoy in 1936 in the Indian nation of Gangestan, opening with him avoiding capture by Chinese criminals in Shanghai. He eventually arrives in India, where he does battle with a local cult in order to retrieve three precious stones, aided by Chinese sidekick Short Round and an American lounge singer named Jasmine.
Jake McCoy and the Last Crusade (1991)
The third installment of the Jake McCoy series once again found the archaeologist globe trotting, this time travelling to Venice, France and finally Syria during the French Civil War (1939) in a hunt for the fabled Holy Grail. The film brought back Sallah as a sidekick and starred Dennis Roth as the villainous Colonel Fouche, and Lena Scaras as the traitorous Lucille de Beauchamp. The film was something of a buddy movie, as it brought together McCoy and his father, Charles (Ben MacMillan), who himself is an archaeologist.
Jake McCoy and the City of Poseidon (1997)
The fourth installment in the series, meant to be a direct sequel to The Last Crusade, was initially intended for 1994, but the film became mired in development hell and Tom Selleck appeared in other films and Pat Alden removed himself from the project to focus on the Jurassic Park series. Eventually, the fourth film was made with a summer '97 release date, this time set in 1944. McCoy, retired from adventuring now teaches at Harvard and is recruited by the American government to go on a final quest to hunt down the fabled city of Atlantis, which supposedly houses a terrible weapon being sought by the French. McCoy's adventure takes him to Greece and Morocco, where he does battle with Irish archaeologist Donovan Shea (Liam Neeson), who is on the payroll of the French. They discover Atlantis and the fabled trident of Poseidon within, and a battle ensues as the sea comes crashing down on the ruins of the city as the bubble protecting the city breaks.
Jake McCoy and the Dragon's Curse (1999)
Selleck agreed to return for a fifth film with the understanding that it was the final installment, due to the enormous commercial success of the previous four films and that it would be a companion piece with City of Poseidon to close out the series. With Kevin Stone directing, the fifth film sent McCoy into the depths of China to investigate the mausoleum of a long-dead Chinese emperor - and discovers that the myth of Pandora's box was, indeed, true. The film was set all the way forward into 1947 and ended as if the film was, indeed, the last McCoy adventure. The film starred Kim Jong-Il as a Chinese mysticist trying to recover the "Dragon's Curse" as McCoy and an older Short Round evade him through the Far East, and well-known Chinese actress and model Olivia Tang starred as the fiesty, martial-arts savvy love interest. The film was a financial success but was received with lukewarm critical reception.
Jake McCoy and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
In late 2004, George Lucas approached Pat Alden, who directed the first three movies, and convinced him to sign on for a sixth Jake McCoy film. This new film would be set in 1957 and feature McCoy exploring Mayan ruins to learn the secrets behind a mysterious crystal skull in a legendary kingdom. The film featured Irene Cassidy as a French villainess trying to force McCoy to help her, using his old girlfriend Marion Carpenter as leverage. The eventual conclusion reached is that the skull belongs to aliens that landed on earth thousands of years ago that the South American locals treated as gods. The film was panned critically, mainly due to Tom Selleck's advanced age and the ludicrous plot, although it was financially successful, but not quite to the level that the previous films were.
United Pictures and George Lucas announced in March 2010 that they were considering another prequel film, this one to be set in the late 1920's and would feature a younger Jake McCoy on his first adventure, accompanied by his father. Pat Alden was originally in talks to direct, but he chose to focus on the Beyond sequel instead, saying in a January 2011 interview that "I'm all McCoy'd out." While Tom Brady was offered the role of Jake McCoy, he turned it down to focus on other projects, including a Star Trek sequel and a directorial project. In May 2011, Drew Brees was confirmed as the star of the next Jake McCoy movie. In June 2011, George Lucas confirmed that Emile Temples would direct the film and that it would be shot in 3-D. While the film is as of yet untitled, it will be set primarily in Africa and will focus on efforts to find the Garden of Eden. On July 14, 2011, a targeted release date of Memorial Day 2013 was announced as well as the casting of Rafael Rodriguez, Paris Hilton and Jean Reno in unspecified roles, and Sean Bean was announced as Dr. Henry McCoy, Jake's father.
The title Jake McCoy and the Garden of Life was announced on February 27, 2012 with the beginning of principal photography in Zanzibar and northern Zululand. The film has an official release date of May 24, 2013. Lucas has announced that he envisions this film as the beginning of a reboot/prequel trilogy for McCoy and that Brees has been signed to a three-picture deal.