Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci have written for so many blockbuster franchises (Transformers, Star Trek) and big genre TV shows (Alias, Fringe) by this point, it was inevitable that the pair would eventually want to make the jump to directing some of these splashy tentpoles themselves. The dynamic duo is separating professionally, in order to better pursue such directing opportunities; Kurtzman is currently attached to helm the Spider-Man spinoff film Venom, while Orci is reported to have recently entered official talks for him to call the shots on the next Star Trek movie installment.

While Kurtzman has a feature-length film (People Like Us) and a couple TV episodes under his belt as director, Orci is a newcomer to that world. The latter’s newcomer status in the directing arena is said to have contributed to Paramount Pictures being hesitant to hand Star Trek 3 (as we’ve been calling it) over to Orci. Then again, the writer/producer arguably has as much industry experience as Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness director J.J. Abrams had, when Paramount decided to allow the latter to hold the reins on the third Mission: Impossible film installment back in the mid-aughts.

Which is to say, it’s not shocking that the studio’s heads have started to warm up more and more to the idea of Orci helming the next Star Trek – especially with a desired release date deadline in 2016 (which is the franchise’s 50th anniversary) looming overhead, as further incentive for Paramount to get the ball rolling on this project sooner than later.

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci

Variety is now reporting that Orci has, in fact, been set to direct Star Trek 3, with other news outlets (like Deadline) confirming as much to be true. Abrams, who is currently getting production started on Star Wars: Episode VII, is still producing this next Star Trek movie. Meanwhile, Orci is putting together a story and script in collaboration with J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay: a relative newcomer writing duo, who have also been recruited to reboot the Flash Gordon sci-fi franchise on the big screen.

The last two Star Trek installments – both co-penned and co-produced by Orci – were both overall critical successes, as well as lucrative ventures at the box office. Yet, especially with the last film, Into Darkness, an increasing number of die-hard Trek fans (and even certain cast members) have begun vocalizing their interest in seeing the next movie return to the series’ roots in space exploration and humanism – while still retaining the whiz-bang fun of the Abrams-helmed installments, that is. Orci, as it were, is on the same page as a large chunk of the Star Trek fanbase – in that respect anyway.

In our interview with him on the Screen Rant Underground Podcast, Orci admitted that he felt that he’d “earned the right to explore new worlds” in Star Trek 3, having retread familiar territory before (see: rebooting the Star Trek universe – literally – with the 2009 installment, then going on to re-imagine Khan with Star Trek into Darkness). That’s not to say there won’t be well-established aliens featured in the next movie, as Orci also indicated that elements touched upon in Into Darkness may be included in the background – like the Cold War tension between the Federation and Klingon Empire. Still, innovation in terms of the story being told, would be quite welcome at this point.

What are your feelings on Orci directing Star Trek 3? Are there any classic alien worlds or characters you’re hoping might be featured in this next installment – or would you rather that this film truly go somewhere that this nearly-50 year old franchise has never gone before?

Star Trek 3 (not the official title) is expected to reach theaters by 2016; we’ll let you know when it has an exact release date.

Source: Variety, Deadline