Regardless of how die-hard Trekkies feel about them, the rebooted Star Trek movies were successful in bringing the iconic sci-fi franchise back into the limelight with 2009's Star Trek and last year's Star Trek Into Darkness earning both positive reviews from critics and emerging as a commercially viable franchise for Paramount. A main factor for its resurgence was the directing style of J.J. Abrams, who crafted works that had widespread appeal while honoring Trek lore simultaneously.
With the filmmaker off in the galaxy far, far away, the Enterprise was in need of a new captain in order for the third installment to reach theaters by 2016 (Trek's 50th anniversary). After many rumors about who would take the reigns, Trek screenwriter Roberto Orci was tapped to call the shots, marking his first job as a feature film director. He's long been part of the creative process for Star Trek 3 and had the stamp of approval from his cast members, but now we've learned that he won't be the movie's helmsmen.
Deadline is reporting that Orci has stepped off as director, but will continue to serve as a producer for the project. No reasoning was given, but it puts Paramount in a precarious situation, as they were on track to begin rolling the cameras in spring 2015 in order to meet that pre-established 2016 target date.
Obviously, the hunt is on to find a replacement quickly. In their writeup, Deadline also says that fan-favorite Edgar Wright (The World's End) is among the candidates on the studio's shortlist of possible directors. His potential competition is unknown, but most viewers would probably sign up for a Wright-helmed Star Trek flick - given his popularity with movie geeks.
Wright's biggest claim to fame as a filmmaker is the comedic Cornetto trilogy, consisting of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World's End. Each poked fun at a different genre of movie, but illustrated Wright's chops in handling action sequences and admiration for pop culture history. Further adding credence to his abilities as a strong visual storyteller is the underrated Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which used a highly-stylized format to tell a relatable emotional story. So few would argue he lacks the capability and enthusiasm to make an entertaining Star Trek film.
Earlier this year, Wright made headlines when he stepped away from Ant-Man, the Marvel Studios film he had been developing since before the first Iron Man came out. The consensus is that the move had to be made because Wright's ideas for the project didn't completely jive with the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe, a development that caused the disappointment of many. It would give Star Trek 3 a nice redemption narrative if Wright was able to land the gig and try his hand at a different big-budget property.
Since Wright would be entering the series three films in, there is a set aesthetic he would have to replicate (so it fits with what came before), but since the Star Trek films are not part of an expansive shared movie universe and can operate more as their standalone entities, there's a greater chance that Wright's artistic flourishes will be able to come out and play, giving fans something familiar while retaining his auteur tendencies that helped him give him his voice as a director.
As for Orci, the breakup seems to be amicable since he is remaining involved with the film in some capacity. Perhaps the higher-ups at the studio decided the threequel would be in better hands with a more-experienced filmmaker behind the wheel. Until the circumstances surrounding the decision are made public, it will certainly be a topic of much debate.
Star Trek 3 should be in theaters sometime in 2016. We'll keep you updated on the latest information.
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