This week while he was helping "Save the Arcades" Zachary Quinto gave an update on his latest projects and also talked about the next Star Trek, including talking a little Shatner and Khan, but he appeared to be noting that the film is not in a hurry. Details below, plus some TrekMovie analysis on the decisions remaining for the Star Trek sequel.
Quinto: Nobody is in a hurry
Five months ago (before the release of Star Trek) Paramount commissioned the script for the Star Trek sequel. Since then producer (and possible director) JJ Abrams and the writers (Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof) have talked in generalities about what is next, but made it clear they are still in research and discussion mode. Now in an interview with SciFi wire from this week, the new Spock seems to suggest a bit of patience is required:
I know that they’re breaking the stories and working on it. J.J. [Abrams] and Bobby [Orci] and Alex [Kurtzman]. But I think those guys have other things that they’re working on. Star Trek is a priority, certainly, but I don’t think anybody’s in a hurry. Which is what I love about them. You know what I mean? Of course the fans and the studio would love it to come out next summer if it could. I think it’s going to be much better served by taking time and being clear about the story that they want to tell. Whether or not that involves Khan or Mr. Shatner remains to be seen.
Zach Quinto takes some time out to relax at an arcade
When? + who will direct?
Although much of the talk about the Star Trek sequel has been about the story, and how much it should be weighed between the new and the old (including Shatner and Khan), there are still some fundamental questions that have not been resolved. Two big decisions are if JJ Abrams will direct, and when will the film be released (and these questions are inter-related). The studio is keen to get the sequel out by the Summer of 2011, however that may not fit with Abrams schedule. JJ has many other projects on his plate, including co-producing Mission: Impossible: IV for 2011. Also Abrams seems reticent to jump into directing a second Trek film so soon. In his last TrekMovie interview, he made it clear he would like to change things up:
TrekMovie: Way before you decided to direct this movie you told me you wouldn’t make the decision to direct until you saw the script. I know it is presumptuous, but let’s assume a sequel happens. What will be your decision process will be to direct that one?
Abrams: I think that the dream version of any job is to chose the job because you love the job. And for me I have only directed two films and they are both films that are sequels to TV shows that Leonard Nimoy starred in. I would love to try and do something else. That is not to say that can’t do something else first and maybe come back and do the sequel to this. But I do honestly think that it is insane to think about a sequel when the first one hasn’t come out it. I pray people see the movie and I pray they like the film. And if there desire for another one, not only am I thrilled to produce that movie and help realize it, but I am wide open to the possibility of directing it. It is something I need to decide when we have discussions about the story…
So it is possible that the Star Trek sequel script gets handed in at the end of this year and JJ loves it and has nothing else on his plate and dives into pre-production in early 2010 to get the movie delivered by 2011. However, if Abrams ends up doing this "something else" next, then the studio may be left with a choice: Get a Star Trek sequel in the Summer of 2011 produced by Abrams, but directed by someone else, or wait until 2012 (or later) to get an Abrams-directed Star Trek sequel.
Of course this is like déjà vu all over again. Back in late 2006 and early 2007 all the Internet buzz was regarding if JJ Abrams would or would not direct the first Star Trek movie. We should probably expect the same kind of thing this time around.
There is another fundamental question regarding the next Star Trek film, and that is the budget. The first film ended up costing around $145M (before marketing), which is typical for a summer tent pole, but the largest Trek budget ever. However the film was greenlit in early 2007 when things were different at Paramount, and they still had an investment partner on the film (Spyglass). Since then Paramount (and other studios) have cut back on production slates and they are also cutting back on spending as well. Just this week Paramount moved the release of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie Shutter Island from October 2009 to February 2010, citing a lack of funds to market and distribute the film (apparently they blew all their cast on Monsters vs Aliens, Star Trek, Transformers 2, and GI Joe). Studio Chief Brad Grey issued this statement
regarding the move:
Our 2009 slate was greenlit in a very different economic climate and as a result we must remain flexible and willing to recalibrate and adapt to a changing environment. This is a situation facing every single studio as we all work through the financial pressures associated with the broader downturn. Like every business, we must make difficult choices to maximize our overall success and to best manage Paramount’s business in a way that serves Viacom and its shareholders, while providing the film with every possible chance to succeed both creatively and financially.
So even though Star Trek is a hit movie and considered a success (grossing over $382.5M theatrically so far, with more big profits expected from home video this November), the economic climate could affect the budget of the next film. To be sure there are some built in cost-savings already as much of the design and set construction work will carry over. Also the main cast actors were all signed to 3 picture deals so they are not going to have a big bump into the budget. So in the end it would not be surprising if the studio asked Abrams to find a way to deliver the next Trek with the same or a little less cash. Of course Nicholas Meyer delivered what is seen as the best Star Trek film (Wrath of Khan) with just a fraction of the budget of the first film.
So Trek fans should maybe take a tip from Zach and relax and not be in a hurry. It seems fairly certain a Star Trek sequel will happen, but we are a ways off from knowing what shape it take.
One more thing: congrats Bob!
Bob Orci was certainly not working on the Star Trek sequel last night, as he was receiving his Imagen Award. Here is a photo of the event, with Bob and Jimmy Smits.