If you consider yourself a Trekkie, you likely had a pretty strong opinion one way or the other when J.J. Abrams, who helmed Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, exited the third film in order to do Star Wars: Episode VII, leaving producer Roberto Orci to take the reins on Star Trek 3. Though Orci is a heavyweight producer in Hollywood, having been involved with both Star Trek films, The Amazing Spider-Man franchise and Now You See Me (to name a few of many), he’s never before directed a film. Naturally, Paramount wants to be cautious in handing him one of its most bankable series, but now it turns out that Orci directing is still not a done deal.
Speaking with Collider during the TCA Press Tour (which Orci was on to promote his El Rey series Matador), the producer provided updates on the threequel, noting that Paramount still hasn’t seen the script for Star Trek 3 and that he isn’t officially signed on to direct until the studio greenlights that script. Asked about whether he felt jittery about directing the blockbuster, Orci said:
“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.”
That’s not what most news sites have been reporting, so either the story on Orci’s involvement has been incorrect for months, or he just doesn’t want to jinx himself until the script gets a thumbs-up (the latter certainly seems more probable). Orci explained that, though he’s not set to direct yet, he’s certainly feeling the burn 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.”
Of course, Orci has more reason to be nervous than either Payne or McKay. He hasn’t made himself beloved of die-hard Trekkies, as was recently seen during his response to Into Darkness haters in an online forum. When Collider’s writer noted that it’s hard to make people love a franchise for years on end, Orci agreed:
“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.”
No word yet on when Paramount will be sending Star Trek 3 into theaters, though a release in 2016, which marks the franchise’s 50th anniversary, seems like a good bet. Of course, it’s all dependent on whether Orci, Payne and McKay deliver a script that the studio likes – and given Orci’s tumultuous relationship with the fans, I’d imagine the die-hards are crossing their fingers pretty tightly right about now.