‘Star Trek 3′: Is This Writer Beaming Up to Fill J.J. Abrams’ Shoes?

Source: Paramount Pictures

The third installment in the recent J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek franchise won’t be directed by J.J. Abrams, according to a source who spoke to Variety. That report says that Roberto Orci has been tapped to replace Abrams for Star Trek 3, as Abrams will be too busy directing the new Star Wars films to have time to do the third Star Trek, though he will stay on the project as a producer.

The film would be Orci’s first time behind the camera, though he has worked as a writer and producer for years. Orci has written the previous two Star Trek movies and is set to write the screenplay for the third installment alongside J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. He also wrote the screenplays for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the first two Transformers movies, among other popular franchises.

The studios behind the project, Paramount and Skydance, declined to give Variety a comment on the report, as did Orci. The publication reports that no plot details for the third installment have been revealed, but actors Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are expected to return, as well as others from the previous cast.

According to Deadline, the decision to hire Orci as director had been rumored for a while. Skydance had been pushing for Orci to direct, while Paramount needed some convincing. Orci’s involvement with the franchise from the beginning as a writer and producer were certainly cards in his favor, though it is curious that the studios would place such a big project in the hands of a first-time director.

The previous two Star Trek films performed well both critically and at the box office. Star Trek was released in 2009 and grossed $257.7 million during its time in theaters, according to figures from Box Office Mojo. Star Trek was a hit with critics, garnering a 95 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie was lauded for its ability to appeal both to hardcore fans of the long-running Star Trek series and those new to the franchise — no easy feat for a series with as many rabid fans as Star Trek.

The second film in the series, Star Trek: Into Darkness, came out last spring and made $228.8 million in theaters, per Box Office Mojo. Into Darkness didn’t do quite as well with the critics as its predecessor, but it still has a respectable 87 percent fresh rating from critics’ reviews aggregated by Rotten Tomatoes.

Meanwhile, Star Wars: Episode VII is set to be released by Disney in December 2015. That film will likely draw some of the same fans as Star Trek 3, and many are waiting to see if Abrams can do justice to the beloved series. Given his success with rebooting the Star Trek franchise, Abrams may just be the man for the job. It remains to be seen if Orci, as a first-time director, can successfully take the helm of the Star Trek franchise.

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