Back in 2009, J.J. Abrams directed the Star Trek script from Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci - Abrams' previous collaborators on the Alias and Fringe TV shows - and, in the process, they managed to breath new life into the geek-favorite sci-fi franchise. The trio collaborated with screenwriter Damon Lindelof (Lost) on the followup, known as Star Trek Into Darkness - with the final movie result proving to be another critical and financial success.
However, it's seemed for some time now that an Abrams/Kurtzman/Orci reunion on Star Trek 3 might not be in the cards. The former is currently busy gearing up to start principal photography on Star Wars: Episode VII, with a Summer 2015 release date target. Meanwhile, rumors surfaced last month that the in-demand Kurtzman/Orci duo will only produce the next Star Trek installment, with scripting duties being reassigned to Thor and X-Men: First Class writing pair Ashley Miller and Zach Stentz instead.
The latest report from Heat Vision is that Kurtzman and Orci are in negotiations to write Star Trek 3, though the site claims that Lindelof is not expected to return with them. That makes sense, given that Kurtzman and Orci are serving as the producers on a handful of developing projects - including The Mummy reboot and the Sleepy Hollow TV series - but do not have a high-priority script in the works right now. By comparison, Lindelof has spent the last several months putting the finishing touches on the Tomorrowland script and is mapping out The Leftovers TV series, possibly with a 2014 premiere date in mind.
Lindelof dropped a few hints about what to expect from Star Trek 3, before Into Darkness opened in U.S. theaters. However, the rebooted Star Trek timeline is the brain-child of Kurtzman/Orci, so their involvement with the impending third chapter feels more like a necessity than Lindelof's - not least of all because the next Star Trek movie is going to have a brand-new story - as opposed to the Wrath of Khan-inspired twists and turns from Into Darkness - which is something that Orci told us about on the Star Trek Into Darkness episode of the Screen Rant Underground Podcast.
Although the writer situation for Star Trek 3 now appears to be settled, the search for a director is still ongoing. Abrams has been hesitant to formally bow out as a contender, but the strong possibility of a 2016 release date - to coincide with the Star Trek franchise's 50th anniversary - would make it difficult (albeit, not impossible) for Abrams to juggle his Star Wars duties with directing the next Star Trek film.
Early on, Joe Cornish - writer/director of Attack the Block and co-screenwriter for Marvel's Ant-Man - was floated as a possible replacement helmer for Abrams on Star Trek 3. Right now, Latino Review is reporting that Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) is the current "top contender" to direct the next Star Trek installment. However, the G.I. Joe filmmaker's reps have reached out and claimed that Chu has not yet been formally contacted nor approached by Paramount and/or the Trek franchise producers at this stage - though, that does rule out the possibility that the studio is considering Chu for the Star Trek 3 job.
In related news: Cinematallica is asserting that Rupert Wyatt is “virtually a lock at this stage in the game” to sign on and direct Star Trek 3, which is said to gel with what Collider's Steve "Frosty" Weintraub has been hearing in recent weeks. Wyatt broke out with the financial/critical hit blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but ended up passing on the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - supposedly, because he wanted additional time to make the latter film than Fox would allow.
Wyatt circled The Equalizer (starring Denzel Washington) earlier this year, but ended up passing on the project. The former is reported to be attached as director on titles like the sci-fi thriller Agent 13 (with Charlize Theron headlining) and the WWI drama Birdsong, but something like Star Trek 3 would take precedent over either of those films. Not to mention, the previously-referenced prospective 2016 release date should allow for a more relaxed pre-production timeline than Wyatt had faced on the Apes sequel (translation: he might be more inclined to agree and make this particular sci-fi blockbuster installment).
Having said all that: there's still an (increasingly-slim) chance that Abrams could wind up directing Star Trek 3, especially if Zachary Quinto (who plays young Spock in the rebooted continuity) is correct about that still being Abrams' plan. You might recall that it took Abrams quite a while to officially commit to directing Star Trek Into Darkness, as he (essentially) waited until the eleventh hour to do so - could history repeat itself with Star Trek 3?
Do you want Paramount to accommodate Abrams so he can direct Star Trek 3, seeing how Kurtzman and Orci are returning? Or would you rather see a different filmmaker be given the reins to this project?
Star Trek 3 (not the official title) currently does not have a release date.