Many were skeptical about director J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot, but the finished film turned out to be the rare movie that seemed to please both die-hard fans and Trek newcomers in equal measure. It was a thrilling start to a revitalized franchise for Paramount, and while reception to the follow-up Star Trek Into Darkness was less enthusiastic, the sequel still went on to gross $467 million worldwide. Obviously Paramount would be moving forward with another installment, but Abrams happened to be busy with this little thing called Star Wars, so a new director was needed. After months of searching, the studio finally settled on a familiar face: Roberto Orci. Having produced and co-written the first two films, Orci was already entrenched in the existing franchise, but Star Trek 3 marks a massive challenge as it will be Orci’s first time in the director’s chair, ever.
Our own Christina Radish recently got the chance to speak with Orci in anticipation of his TV series Matador (which has already been picked up for a second season) during the TCA Press Tour, and Orci gave an update on Star Trek 3’s progress, saying Paramount has yet to sign off on the script, adding that he’s not necessarily confirmed as the director until the film gets the greenlight. More after the jump.
“Well, I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch. The studio has yet to even read the script. I’m in the middle of writing it, with the talented team of [John D.] Payne and [Patrick] McKay. They are true Star Trek fans, as well. So, I can’t even think anything about the future until I give them a script and they greenlight it. Until that happens, everything else is just a rumor.”
Though two separate trades reported that Orci will be directing Trek 3, maybe he doesn’t want to confirm the news until the studio has signed off on his script. Or maybe him getting to direct Trek is contigent on how Paramount reacts to the script that he puts together. For now, Orci says he just feels pressure as a screenwriter:
“If I’m lucky enough that Paramount loves the script and that we go forward, it’ll be because I have loved Star Trek for so long and the idea of having seen one of the best guys in the business direct two of them already, and to have seen it from the vantage point of a producer too, I know where a lot of the challenges are and where a lot of the fun is. If we’re lucky enough that everything goes right, then I’ll start to feel the pressure. Once it’s really happening, it’s like, ‘Oh, my God, the 50th anniversary! Holy, moly!’ As a writer, I feel the pressure as the returning screenwriter to this franchise. I feel it at the story level. I can’t speak for Payne and McKay, but they seem to be having a good time. They don’t look as nervous as I feel, but maybe they’re just good at hiding it.”
Fans haven’t exactly held their tongues when it comes to their dislike for Orci, especially after the scribe confronted a number of them in an online forum. Christina mentioned that it’s difficult to make anything that people will continue to love for years on end, and Orci touched on the Trek community as a whole in his response:
“It is. It takes a dedicated fan base, and that’s why I do think there is such a feeling of protectiveness about Star Trek, both from the people who work on it and the fandom itself. They’ve kept it alive for a long time, through thick and thin. We didn’t invent Star Trek. We’re just taking care of it for a little bit. And there will be others who will come in and take care of it, long after we’re gone. It’s that amazing of a thing. You just hope, with anything you do, that you can work on it long enough that you can pay it its proper due.”
An official release date for Star Trek 3 has yet to be confirmed, but Paramount is keen on getting the pic out in 2016 to mark the series’ 50th anniversary. As Orci, Payne, and McKay finish up their first draft, expect more firm announcements regarding Trek 3 in the coming months—assuming Paramount takes a liking to their take on the story, that is.
Look for our full interview with Orci on Collider soon.