Back in 2009, J.J. Abrams' reimagining of Star Trek took the industry by surprise - delivering a charming throwback to the iconic crew of the Starship Enterprise while also carving out a unique (and canon-friendly) path for Star Trek 2 and beyond. Not only did the film sate the worries of most Star Trek-superfans and deliver an action-packed ride (with a dash of campy fun), the movie also succeeded in wowing general audiences - due to a great ensemble cast and heartfelt storyline.
It's been no secret that breaking the story for Star Trek 2 has been a challenge for writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman as well as Damon Lindelof and, thanks to a recent update on the script, the industry is now abuzz with uncertainty regarding whether or not the follow-up will make its original release date - June 29, 2012.
According to a recent report from Deadline, there's good news and bad news on the horizon for the Star Trek sequel.
The good news suggests that J.J. Abrams has elected to return and direct, not just produce, the film. It's been known for some time that Abrams was holding back confirmation of returning to helm the Enterprise next installment of the film series - until he had a chance to look at a near-complete story. Monday's report from Orci suggests that the script is now at a point where Abrams could make an informed decision about the sequel and with the release of the director's supernatural action-flick, and love letter to 80s cinema, Super 8 only two short weeks away - Abrams should now have enough free-time to determine whether or not he's the right man for the Star Trek 2 director's chair.
Given that his schedule is freeing up (respectively, considering Abrams is also producing and/or overseeing a number of TV and film projects), with no concrete director duties in the near future, it's fair to assume that Abrams has penciled-in Star Trek 2 - barring any serious aversion to the story (which, according to Orci, is still malleable enough for Abrams to add his own input).
As a result, the bad news suggests that it would be next to impossible for the filmmakers to deliver the Star Trek sequel by the June 29, 2012 release date - at least, not without compromising the high bar set by the first one. Instead, the film will likely be bumped to the holiday film season later in the year - to give the filmmakers a chance to capture the same magic again.
While it might seem as though the potential delay is coming out of nowhere, we probably should have all seen it coming - since earlier reports suggested that the script-work was lingering-on (longer than originally planned at least) and at this time there's only thirteen months left until the scheduled release. Many fans were probably expecting that a lot of pre-production work on the sequel was just kept under wraps - despite Abrams' full plate of in-production projects as well as the busy schedules of Star Trek 2's three writers (Lindelof poured a lot of energy into his Prometheus script, Kurtzman made his directorial debut with Welcome to People, and Orci has been hard at work writing Ender's Game).
Fortunately (or unfortunately for fans who hate delays) it sounds as if the filmmakers have, to their credit, been dedicating quality time to the Star Trek sequel script - instead of rushing it out the gate to make their scheduled release date. While it might come as a disappointment to some moviegoers, there's no doubt the film will be much better for it in the long run. Obviously, as many fans already know, the last time a Kurtzman and Orci script was rushed into production, in favor of a release date, we ended up with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - which, despite some fun action and epic battles, was a soulless and muddled story. As a result, both the writing team and Michael Bay have apologized for the deadline-over-quality approach - which everyone seems to admit allowed them to lose sight of the story (and subsequently control of the film).
Many fans will also remember Abrams' first Trek film was bumped from a holiday 2008 release to its actual debut in May of 2009. While that particular rescheduling had more to do with capitalizing on summer box office hype, rather than a drawn-out production schedule and busy filmmakers, it's still a good reminder - i.e. the wait was worth it.
In an industry where sequel turn-around is getting shorter and shorter (remember when we told you that sequels to Thor and Captain America as well as DC property, Green Lantern were already in the works?), the wait for Star Trek 2 has been excruciatingly long. However, it's encouraging to know that Kurtzman, Orci, and Lindelof have taken their time with story (in spite of their busy schedules) and delivered a script that's simply waiting for Abrams to set the gears in motion.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick and let us know if you can wait an added six more months for Star Trek 2?
Star Trek 2 is (for the time being) slated for theatrical release on June 29th, 2012 - but expect the film to get bumped to the 2012 holiday season.