Orci Chats With Fans on Canon, Marketing and More

Yesterday we reported on JJ Abrams comments to the USA Today, which (as it so often does) kicked up a lot of comments from a lot of fans (500+ and still going). Luckily Star Trek co-writer and exec producer Roberto Orci dropped in to TrekMovie.com and answered many of the questions and took some more. Orci talked about mainstream v fan appeal, canon, publicity photos and more. For those that don’t dive into the comments, there are some excerpts below in easy to ready format.

The following are just a few of Orci’s recent comments in Q&A form, but read the full set of comments if you want to see it all.

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Jim: There was a time (pre-internet days, for all readers under 15), when fans had to seek out information about new movies from obscure print sources. Anyone out there remember fanzines, or Jim Steranko’s “Mediascene” or other like publications produced by folks who clearly loved the genres upon which they were reporting? Because of that, the way in which movies were released and promoted was much different (for the better, IMHO).

Creative types actually seemed to care about attracting a passionate fan base by releasing meaningful information rather than running around saying “trust us – we make good movie”. For example, several months prior to the release of “Star Wars” (and no I ain’t doing the renumbered chapters foolishness), Lucas had not only released a lot of Ralph McQuarrie’s pre-production art but a complete novelization of the movie.

It is sounding almost as though this film will be one for the “it blowed up real good” crowd than for those who found ST more challenging (and thus, more entertaining) over the years because it seemed to resist pandering to the lowest common denominator. If this is the creative team’s idea of “viral marketing”, it sure has backfired for me. After a brief period of cautious optimism, these recent comments have driven me to a point where I could care less about what’s up with this new film.

Roberto Orci: Marketing and making a movie are two entirely different endeavors. I would implore you not to base your opinion of one based on the other, particularly when it has been our intention to not have ANYTHING be known about this movie until much later — we are forced into revealing details of your surprise party because thanks to the internet, fans don’t like surprises. Our trade off, however, has been to be as open as possible about the process and the thinking behind our decisions.

Although I have to come to be suspicious of the phrase LEAST COMMON DENOMINATOR as a unintentional code word of the elite, let me just say that the story of this movie IS NOT targeting the least common denominator.

 

Admiral_Bumblebee: But isn’t the purpose of a prequel to tell what happened before the events we all know, to tell how those events came to pass?
It seems to me, JJ wants to have a fresh start. But if so, why use the known characters? Why not create new characters?

I do not have a problem when he updates the look of the ship, the bridge, the uniforms etc. But if he creates a new timeline in which everything we have seen doesn’t happen, then I will be angry.
If JJ wants to do his thing, then he should have created his own characters, maybe have the story set in the future and not the past.

Roberto Orci: JJ had no intention of directing Trek at all. But we knew if we could get an A-lister non-”AVID”-fan like him to do it, with a TOS script that still satisfied our geek impulses and that still maintained original characters, then we would really have a shot at making this work.

 

Ahkenatan: I have a major, important, stupendous question. Will we see miniskirts? For the love of God please tell me!!!!!

Roberto Orci: You will have an answer about what everyone is wearing very soon.

 

RideOp1 (to Closettrekker): Most of us are here because we love TREK, plain and simple. Sometimes people can get a bit emotional about it, myself included……As I said before, it’s all opinions here, and what we say will have no bearing or influence on what Abrams and Orci do. Hell if they read this stuff at all, they probably think we are all nuts with way too much time on our hands and are laughing about it.

Roberto Orci: Not true. Comments here do and have had an influence…. and we read everything.

 

Gene: Curious……Did you think the Star Trek “canon” issue would be such a bone of contention for so many fans when you took on this project? What is your view on the importance or lack of importance of canon?

Roberto Orci: I had no idea — was completely surprised….

Just kidding. I was 147 percent sure it was going to be a MASSIVE deal. As i’ve said before, Trek fans are among the most savvy in the world, and since Damon and I humbly consider ourselves fans as well, all we had to do was look at each other to know that it was going to matter A LOT.

Canon is part of the DNA of our story. If you know your Trek, your knowledge will not be wasted. If you don’t, if won’t prevent you from entering this amazing world that’s been taken care of for over forty years by the fans. What other franchise has as distinct and established phenomenon as to have a name (Trekkie, Trekker). Even mainstream media covers the Star Trek fan base. There are no SPIDERMANNERS or PIRATERS, or SUPERMANNIES.

Trek belongs to all of us. I see canon much like the constitution. It is living document, but it has some principles that are inviolable.

 

Closettrekker: Mr. Orci, What is it about this project that you feel will draw a new and broader audience to Star Trek? Is it something different about the story and how it will be presented in this film, or is it just in the marketing approach?

Are we going to have to watch TOS in a different light after seeing this movie? I hope that question is vague enough for you to feel comfortable answering.

Roberto Orci: I believe that we are the lucky recipients of 40 years of Trek school, No one who came before us had that benefit. As a result, we’ve had the opportunity to learn (hopefully) what is essential and wonderful about Trek and to distill it into its most potent from yet. Additionally, the technology and budget available to us will also allow us to realize a vision of Trek that will hopefully be the most “real” ever.

Also, by approaching it to some degree as a “prequel,” we get to make the case to new viewers that this is the time to jump into the Trek universe and find out why the rest of us have loved it for so long.

As to the question of whether or not you will view TOS in a different light, my sincere hope and belief is that it will enhance it. That’s the goal, anyway. As always, our success or failure will be entirely your judgment.
 

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TrekMovie.com wants to again thank Mr. Orci for taking time out of his busy shooting schedule to interact with the fans. And we wish you and the team the best of luck up there in Toronto shooting FRINGE (and the team shooting STAR TREK in LA the best too).
 

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Sean4000
February 6, 2008 7:06 pm

I feel a little better.

Sean4000
February 6, 2008 7:10 pm

A knot in my stomach has losened, one down 345678432 to go.

Alaska Joe
February 6, 2008 7:11 pm

First I suppose. That is all. Carry on.

Driver
February 6, 2008 7:20 pm

I am a harsh critic. Come December 25th, If it’s not Trek, I will say it.

Big Rudy
February 6, 2008 7:21 pm

I sure hope they do this right.

M.
February 6, 2008 7:22 pm

I have a question. Where were you canon fanatics when that travesty ENTERPRISE aired? I mean if anything should have pissed you off it was that P.O.S.!

I am a fan of the Original too, but stop treating it as though it was a piece of the true cross. Star Trek needs to breathe, not suffocate under the expectations of the vocal minority of fans that see it as “Conform to Mr. Roddenberry or Die!”

To quote Mr. Shatner:

GET A LIFE!

Kobayashi Maru
February 6, 2008 7:22 pm

Yawn!!!

nastrand
February 6, 2008 7:30 pm

Hmmm, I wonder if (and when) they will be looking for extras for that Fringe project they are filming.

stephen
February 6, 2008 7:32 pm

I like most of his answers but he kinda went around Admiral Bumblebees question. I want to know if this Trek will erase the timeline that comes after it. Prequels should set up the current material and fit together nicely with it. Could Mr. Orci please set us at ease about whether the timeline will be ruined or not?

Daoud
February 6, 2008 7:38 pm

Gosh, I love it when “El Bob” uses something like “147 percent”.

If using the holy number 47 isn’t a big wink to Trek fen, I don’t know what is….

Thank you sir for answering yet more questions!

Perhaps it would be fair to ask this one now:

If Paramount decides to greenlight a subsequent movie, do you and “Special K” already have some ideas about what direction that story might take?

HunterRex
February 6, 2008 7:41 pm

I feel confident that these guys know what they are doing. It appears that they are considerate of the existing continuity of the franchise, but are taking a little leeway to take advantage of the large budget against a low-budget TV series from 40 years ago. And if you don’t like the movie, so what. You still have the episodes and movies that you did like and no one will take them away from you. Canon needs to be taken a little less seriously by fans. If Star Trek is still around in 2065, do new movies or series still have to look exactly like the 1960s series from 100 years ago? Do you think Superman fans are upset that the movies don’t look like or fit into the continuity of the 50s TV show?

Valar1
February 6, 2008 7:47 pm

#9- why does the original timeline have to be “ruined”. If you still have the shows on DVD, still have the novels, the comics etc then what’s the harm in postulating an alternative take?

Look at the possibilities- if it’s good, then you have the old stuff and new adventures to look forward to because you won’t know how the story ends. If it fails then a decade or so later some Hollywood type will state that Trek failed because they screwed with the original timeline and he will make a faithful adaptation. We’ve already seen the latter scenario with Enterprise. Either way Trek fans win.

The only thing I’m concerned with is the thing sucking bad but still being faithful to the original, then no one will touch the original for a loooong while.

Scott
February 6, 2008 7:51 pm

Was Jim Steranko a Star Trek artist from the 70’s?

johnconner
February 6, 2008 7:51 pm

If the movie had new TOS-era characters, no one outside of the Trek cocoon would bother seeing it.

Widest range of audience = TOS characters. Widest range of potential audience = word of mouth plus reinvigorated familiarity with TOS characters.

In other words:
Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock = pop culture icons
Chakotay, Odo, Quark, April, Archer, Trip Tucker, etc. = NOT pop lexicon.

February 6, 2008 7:57 pm

The OrcSter returneth. Very cool.

I bet he drives a mac like sir JJ.

BEST!!

=h=

YUBinit
February 6, 2008 7:58 pm

#1 Slightly better? Less maybe for me.

#11 So far just words. I for one will be waiting for a fan verdic here if this is all smoke up the backside to garner opening weekend totals. I don’t trust Paramount on this one wee lil bit. Look what they did up until now.

nyxtreme007
February 6, 2008 7:58 pm

I guess December 25 will be judgment day for JJ. He knows our loyalty to Trek. No one, no matter how great they are in directing, is above Star Trek.

steve623
February 6, 2008 8:02 pm

“Where were you canon fanatics when that travesty ENTERPRISE aired? I mean if anything should have pissed you off it was that P.O.S.!”

Where were you and how did you miss all the bitching, moaning, screaming and yelling over such things as the Ferengi and the Borg appearing in what was ostensibly a prequel to TOS? Because there was a LOT of bitching, moaning, screaming and yelling.

SteveinSF
February 6, 2008 8:05 pm

#14-so true, I agree!

General Chang
February 6, 2008 8:05 pm

I’m not and haven’t been as emotional about the whole canon issue as some other posters on this site. I’ve mostly just been excited to see new life breathed into the greatest mythos ever concieved (imho), and to none-the-less be helmed by some of the best contemporary story-tellers.

Thus, I don’t care about minor (or even some major) changes in asthetic if it adds to the story. And from the thoughtful and attentive comments of Roberto Orci, I’m confident these changes will add to the story and make for a great experience.

However, one uncertainty has really been tugging on me: will our entire concept and understanding of “the history of the future” still be relevant and “true” after this newest story is told? As a casual but devoted fan, this is very important to me. If everything I know will have to be adjusted after this movie, whether its actually a good story or not, I must admit that my enthusiasm for the franchise going forward will be tremendously lessened.

Roberto Orci, thank you so much for taking time to interact with us. In doing so you’ve convinced me time and again that the story you will tell will be both entertaining and truly great. But I really hope you’ve considered the importance of the so-called ‘history of the future’ to so many fans.

I really believe that you and Alex Kurtzman have done so, I just hope I’m not wrong.

steve623
February 6, 2008 8:06 pm

“Do you think Superman fans are upset that the movies don’t look like or fit into the continuity of the 50s TV show?”

No, but a lot of them were upset that “Superman Returns” didn’t more closely follow the Reeve-era films, which were referred to by the director as a “loose backstory”. So if people are going to get pissy over that, then how can you expect otherwise? Not everybody is anxious to see a beloved aspect of the original show wiped away or “re-imagined”.

HunterRex
February 6, 2008 8:08 pm

Star Trek XI…The Next Frontier. These are the voyages of new Star Trek moviemakers. It’s next year mission..to explore strange new storylines..to seek out new fans and new audiences…to boldly go where no Star Trek movie has gone before!

Yeah, baby! Star Trek’s about to get its mojo back!

The Guardian of Forever
February 6, 2008 8:08 pm

If they don’t do something stupid and screw up like Generations and Nemesis, I’ll probably like it if only because it’s Trek. But TOS is and always shall be the only real deal for me.

LordCheeseCakeBreath
February 6, 2008 8:15 pm

I had a dream about the movie last night. The different design of the Enterprise was explained. and I was thrilled.

Believe it or not I do have a life!

Clinton
February 6, 2008 8:16 pm

Thanks, Roberto. It’s nice to think of this as a surprise party…for me! :-)

February 6, 2008 8:18 pm

It’s funny, but I’m not all that worried about the film. If anything, I’m sure that *I’ll* love it.

I had a few convictions at first about how closely the canon would be followed in the new film, but that was quickly put to rest by the brilliant people behind this film. The fact that any of these people even bother to address our questions is amazing, so, yeah, not worried a bit. They know what their doing, I think. It’s going to ROCK!

Thanks for being ‘here’, Orci-san! You rock, too! ^___^

February 6, 2008 8:21 pm
#12: Your last paragraph sums up all of my remaining concerns as well. Thanks to this site I’m NOT worried about Abrams & company’s affection for Trek; I’m not worried about them being unaware of fan concerns; I’m not worried about the casting or the music or the uniforms or whatever. I care a lot more about spirit than canon so I’m safe there, since I believe that these guys appreciate the spirit. I’m not worried about the production values in the least; I’m not worried in any way that these guys aren’t sincerely attempting a great Trek movie to the best of their ability, plus or minus some bumps in the road from the writer’s strike. I don’t worry much that it will actually suck. My lingering concern is whether it’ll simply be forgettable, disposable fluff (which in some ways would be worse than simply sucking). This remaining concern is rooted in my own ignorance of the creative team. Specifically: I don’t know much about Orci & Kurtzman. As a result, I’m concerned because I’ve only seen one of their films (The Island) and just last week attempted to watch another (Transformers) but couldn’t get through it. But both of those were Michael Bay films, so it’s difficult to mentally strip away the direction and performances and try to see the words alone, and re-imagine them directed well (plus, there were others involved that may have nothing to do with the Trek project). I haven’t seen any of their… Read more »
The Vulcanista
February 6, 2008 8:24 pm

You know, on that new poll up the page there, I was torn somewhere between keeping past Trek themes/visions and just tell a good story. I actually want both. Canon, not so much that it interferes with creativity.

But what the hell. Principal photography is almost finished, and the movie’s going into post-production soon thereafter; so most of this is just moot, innit?

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

krusty the klown
February 6, 2008 8:31 pm

star trek was dead. enterprise and nemesis finished it off. now we have new trek to look forward to , an alternate timeline with infinite storytelling possibilties, a huge budget, and a talented director. since robert wise, trek fans have never had this going for them.okay, that didnt turn out all that great, but i for one am grateful as all get out to this new team taking the franchise in a bold new direction.

Harry Ballz
February 6, 2008 8:34 pm

#28 “moot, innit?”

There once was a gal named Moot Innit
She loved her Trek in a New York minute
Her passion was keen
Over a movie not yet seen
She was happy long as Spock was in it!

rebecca
February 6, 2008 8:37 pm

“What other franchise has as distinct and established phenomenon as to have a name (Trekkie, Trekker).”

Ever heard of Whovians (Doctor Who fans, for all you who don’t know your British sci-fi)? Or BROWNCOATS???

The Vulcanista
February 6, 2008 8:38 pm

#27: “Eyes open, ears open, mind open, heart guarded. Just don’t suck, is all. Just don’t suck.”

And you have just perfectly crystalized the thought at the back of every Trekkie brain here, ever since the movie was announced, into three simple words: “Just don’t suck.”

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

The Vulcanista
February 6, 2008 8:41 pm

#30

Decent limerick, Harry! Iambic pentameter is *almost* satisfied!

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

February 6, 2008 8:43 pm

Filming in Toronto? Excellent. Good, great, perfect choice.

Well, this line for me was the most inspiring:

“Additionally, the technology and budget available to us will also allow us to realize a vision of Trek that will hopefully be the most “real” ever.”

I hope that means we’ll see aspects of the Trek universe that have only been explored in minor detail. Trek Politics, Trek institutions (expanded look at starfleet command and some of its branches perhaps).

Although Trek has ‘painted’ and image of these parts of the universe in mostly words, (for the exception of the few shots of starfleet academy and the presidents office we got in ST6 / Ds9) I’ve been really dying to see an actual look at that part of the trek universe.

For me as a fan, its all about seeing scope and scale. The federation is supposed to have billions of people, countless planets. Starfleet is also massive / formidable. I’d love to see this translated on screen.

Mr. Orci – I have faith that you won’t disappoint.

Harry Ballz
February 6, 2008 8:45 pm

I’m glad to hear you’re “almost” satisfied….hope springs eternal! :)

Stanky McFibberich
February 6, 2008 8:47 pm
I appreciate that the excerpts above included valid criticisms and/or concerns and not just the ‘rah-rah’ elements. I also appreciate that Mr. Orci took the time to address them. Whether or not others will agree with how they are addressed remains to be seen when the movie comes out. I think it is wise to not take everything the production team says as being “everything is great” since they are naturally predisposed to talk up the movie in a positive way. The proof will be in the puddin’. As for canon, to me the biggest issue with canon is the way the characters look, act, and sound in relation to the series, and with recasting that will be a tough one. Some will not even agree that that is an element of canon, but for me it is. Some of the other canon issues I can be a little more lenient on, since it has been pointed out that some canon things were inconsistent even within the series. Although I enjoyed most of the movies based on the series, the things that came out in those and are now considered canon I am less interested in. There seems to be a call by some folks to want to have references to the other Star Trek series, and for my part, I wish those would be ignored as much as possible. Apparently as Spock is to be shown to be his older self as played by Nimoy after or during the… Read more »
Gary Seven
February 6, 2008 8:48 pm

Mr. Orci-

I am open to changes with our familiar TOS, to a degree. And everything you have said so far has inspired confidence and trust in you-
except your response to “Admiral Bumblebee” regarding the question about the timeline. If the original TOS timeline is destroyed and TOS is no longer considered “real” or definitive (because a new timeline is established), I will be very, very upset. And I suspect I won’t be alone in that. I am not sure if you are able to say something about that, but it would be great if it could be addressed.

COMPASSIONATE GOD
February 6, 2008 8:51 pm

Interesting interview.

February 6, 2008 8:52 pm

As much as I appreciate Orci and others communing with us on the movie, as much as I’d love to know lots more . . .I don’t think they HAVE to tell us anything. Do we really need to know all the little secrets? It’s nice to get a tid bit here and there, but man,…some rabid appetites out there. You’re going to spoil your stomache and not want any movie.

Besides if everything’s set in stone, with the writers strike preventing any changes, even if they did want to do that. . .are they really going go toodling with the story line just because of comments they read from us?

The Vulcanista
February 6, 2008 8:55 pm

#35 Ah, Glasshoppah, you misunderstand.

I’m The Vulcanista. I’m always satisfied.

Iambic pentameter is just a good friend of mine, and she appreciates your effort.

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

February 6, 2008 8:55 pm

Thanks Roberto

James Heaney - Wowbagger
February 6, 2008 8:56 pm

You know what I’ve always wondered, ever since I wrote that essay on Abrams and Alias for TrekMovie all those many moons ago?

Was the vast 47 conspiracy in Alias (page 47, server 47, 47th floor, room 47, etc. etc. etc.) really an intentional Trek hat tip by the Alias writers? And Arvin Sloane’s name… and so forth. Was that all just my overactive imagination?

Anyhow, Orci’s comment about 147% just drove tha back into my mind, and I hope I get the opportunity to ask him about Trek jokes in Alias someday.

In the meantime, I will shamelessly plug my one overlong contribution to the annals of TrekMovie.com: http://trekmovie.com/2006/09/20/a-trek-by-many-other-names-alias-and-star-trek-xi/ It was a good article. You should go read it.

Denise de Arman
February 6, 2008 9:10 pm

Admiral Bumblebee- Did you catch the first few words of Mr. Orci’s answer to you – “JJ had no intention of directing Trek at all”. That says something to me: First, it says that when this all started, he might have been reluctant because he knew thousands of people worldwide, like you and me, would be questioning every word leaked to the media until the movie’s opening. Secondly, it says to me that at this point JJ must have shoulders of Hercuean strength to be able to burden not only the day-to-day rigors of a feature film in production, but also the incessant fanbase paranoia.

I have a couple worries of my own, but frankly, I am heartened by the fact that the big Nimoy liked the screenplay enough to appear in the movie. That fact, as well as the fact that we will be viewing a new Star Trek movie come dec should be enough to keep you from getting too angry between now and then, okay?

Do you guys really want to critisize, threaten and ridicule the production team so much that they consider pulling out of Star Trek after this movie? From the looks of some of the comments on this and other websites, nine more months of that kind of feedback could be that consequence.

theSpockette
February 6, 2008 9:11 pm

Thank you so much for answering questions for us, Mr. Orci! I think this movie is in good hands, and I’m eagerly awaiting its release! The more y’all share with us, the better I feel about it. I thought it was a terrible idea at first, recasting the original crew. But I’ve come to think it’s really the best possible way to revive the franchise, and I have high hopes for this film! Live long, and prosper, Mr. Orci.

newman
February 6, 2008 9:13 pm

Star Trek will be cool again. I could never get my friends into anything Trek before. I think this movie will change that.

Poida
February 6, 2008 9:17 pm

I can’t wait till all the old TOS fans have left this planet so life can move on.

This is a REBOOT, you crazy crazy people. Just like fans of the new Battlestar Galactica, no one gives a turd about the old show. Sure the references are there, but they are just guidelines to make the new show / movie so much better. Even Richard Hatch stamped his little feet up and down for a while….then he saw how much better the remake was, and asked for a role on the show!

So please stop whining like bratty little schoolgirls and accept change.

Bill Peters
February 6, 2008 9:29 pm

I think the moive will be cool, I am Shure intrested in seeing their take on trek and then deciding weather or not that I like it….if it has a Cannon that’s ok and if it is some new stuff that is OK too….

The Vulcanista
February 6, 2008 9:29 pm

#46

Well, bless your heart. Thank you for that literate, well-reasoned … whatever that was.

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

johnconner
February 6, 2008 9:33 pm

Ah, your time will come, young padewan, when you will reject someone’s changes to your precious. In the wise words of RATT, “what comes around goes around.”

The Realist
February 6, 2008 9:37 pm

32. The Vulcanista – February 6, 2008
#27: “Eyes open, ears open, mind open, heart guarded. Just don’t suck, is all. Just don’t suck.”

I am not opposed to changes to Trek or to Canon as even Gene ignored it. but I agree, JUST DON’T SUCK!

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