There’s no question that JJ Abrams’ sci-fi sequel Star Trek Into Darkness is among the most highly-anticipated films of the year. The director’s 2009 franchise reboot far exceeded most fans’ expectations (and introduced the crew of the USS Enterprise to a whole new generation).

Four long years have passed since that film’s release, meaning that Into Darkness has the pressure of living up to all that hype. The long-held mystery with regard to the film’s plot (and Benedict Cumberbatch’s villain) has finally started to crack, but with the recent announcement that Abrams will also helm that other fan favorite sci-fi titan, where does that leave the inevitable third film?

Digital Spy recently spoke to Abrams’ producing partner Bryan Burk about what fans can expect with the latest Trek adventure and how long they’ll have to wait for Star Trek 3.

Here’s what he had to say:

“We like the idea of keeping secrets not for any other reason than to keep the experience of going to the movies and not having seen anything before it … You want this to be a movie that anybody can get into. It’s not really a sequel, it’s its own thing.”

Much of the talk about Into Darkness has revolved around the potential connections it may have to the original series, despite the new timeline the 2009 film established. Burk said that fans should go into the film expecting references to the franchise’s overall mythos.

“One of the things is that the movie will always be for ‘Star Trek’ fans. In the process of all us five producers working together, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof, to a slightly lesser extent, are crazy-hardcore Trekkies. They understand the world so we had long conversations where they put things in and would be laughing hysterically. I had no clue why they were! There are tons of references and nods.”

Despite impending work on Star Wars: Episode 7, Burk said that the plan is to get Star Trek 3 into theaters faster than its predecessor, especially considering that 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the original Gene Roddenberry series.

“We’re definitely talking about the next one, but we haven’t talked about a release date. We don’t want to wait four years, the same amount of time between the last one and this one, but [2016] is going to be a big year to celebrate, hopefully.”

Based on this comment, it sounds like Abrams and company may be aiming for the next film to hit theaters that particular year. However, with the new Star Wars planned for 2015 (or even 2016, as has been rumored), it’s sounding more and more likely that Abrams may not be planning to direct the third Trek after all.

Of course, this is all speculation, but the director is a self-pronounced Star Wars fan, so it’s not entirely implausible that he may decide to place his directorial focus on one franchise.

Star Trek Into Darkness (finally!) hits theaters on May 17th, 2013.

Source: Digital Spy