James Bond (the movie version) turned 50 last year, and James Tiberius Kirk - along with his loyal crew members of the original U.S.S. Enterprise - will join the half-centennial club in 2016. It's feasible that a followup to this past May's Star Trek Into Darkness, a.k.a. Star Trek 3, could reach theaters in times to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Gene Roddenberry's original Star Trek TV show (much like Skyfall was released in theaters in 2012 to celebrate 007's birthday).
Star Trek producer Bryan Burke previously claimed that a 2016 release date for the next Star Trek movie is not guaranteed, but he and fellow producers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and J.J. Abrams do not want to wait another four years between installments (as happened with their Trek movie reboot in 2009 and Into Darkness). That has cast doubt on the possibility of Abrams coming back to direct Star Trek 3, seeing how he'll be preoccupied with shooting and editing Star Wars: Episode VII throughout 2014 (before Abrams starts promoting the film in 2015).
Zachary Quinto - who plays young half-human/Vulcan Spock in the rebooted Star Trek movie continuity - was interviewed while attending the 2013 Galway Film Fleadh (Ireland's leading film festival), where he discussed his fan-favorite roles in Star Trek as well as the hit TV series Heroes and American Horror Story. Naturally, Quinto was asked about the next Star Trek movie, and had the following update to offer (via Buzzhub)
"Star Trek 3 should be filming, I suppose, next year. It’s going to be made a lot quicker than the last one. That’s the plan, although nothing is confirmed yet."
Quinto also mentioned that he doesn't expect - nor really want - to show up in the seventh Star Wars film installment (but he did not elaborate beyond that), in addition to saying that Abrams still plans to direct the next Star Trek installment. That conflicts with previous rumors about the director situation with Star Trek 3, which indicated that a shortlist of replacement candidates had been drawn up (based on the likelihood that Abrams will only produce the film).
Now, there are a couple of reasons to believe that Abrams should be able to direct both Star Wars: Episode VII and Star Trek 3 (assuming he's up for the job). For one, the latter has (officially-speaking) not begun the screenwriting process as of yet, even though Into Darkness co-writer Damon Lindelof has gone ahead and teased the potential antagonists in Star Trek 3 (hint: the film's storyline would build off the characters' brief appearance in the second film). Furthemore, it's not yet been confirmed that Lindelof is, in fact, going to co-write the next Star Trek movie with Kurtzman and Orci. That duo could write alone, as they did on the Trek reboot.
It took longer than many anticipated for Kurtzman, Orci and Lindelof to crack the script for Into Darkness, yet the writing trio is even busier nowadays, thanks to their collective involvement with multiple upcoming tentpoles (see: Van Helsing, Tomorrowland), franchise installments (The Amazing Spider-Man sequels) and TV shows alike (Sleepy Hollow, The Leftovers). As such, there's reason to doubt the potential 2014 start date for Star Trek 3 that Quinto loosely alluded to, considering that the script might not be ready for a while now (which, in turn, would affect when pre-production on the film can get properly underway). Similarly, if Abrams has it in mind to direct Star Trek 3, then there will be even more reason for his collaborators on the project to take their time (and, in turn, get the story right).
Lastly, it seems that Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy is the real caretaker of the Star Wars movie universe now, whereas Abrams is just the guy who was hired to get the next era of that sci-fi box office titan started on the right foot (beginning with Episode VII). Abrams indicated as much in a previous interview, where he admitted that he is not involved in mapping out additional Episodes or Star Wars character spinoffs to follow Episode VII.
That means it should be easier for Abrams to step away from the film - in the time between wrapping post-production and starting to promote Episode VII - and turn his attention on Star Trek 3, so as to allow the latter project to enter production in the first half of 2015 (so the movie can make a Summer 2016 release date). That is not meant to suggest that to do so would be a walk in the park for Abrams, much less the optimal approach for both sci-fi films; nonetheless, it does seem like a feasible scenario, at this stage.
Let us know if you want J.J. Abrams to finish what he started by directing Star Trek 3 - or if you would prefer he concentrate his efforts on one sci-fi franchise at a time (rather than jumping back and forth) - in the comments section.
Star Trek Into Darkness will be available on DVD and Blu-ray on September 10th, 2013.