EXCLUSIVE: Producer Bryan Burk Talks Schedule and ‘Bigger’ Scope Of Star Trek Sequel

Last week Star Trek co-writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman told us they (and Damon Lindelof) were just starting to break the story for the sequel due June 29th, 2012. At the same event, TrekMovie also spoke to producer Bryan Burk, one of the other members of Star Trek’s five-member "Supreme Court", who gave an update on the plans for the production, and also talked about how the team want the sequel to be even bigger than the first.


Bryan Burk Talks Star Trek Sequel

Bryan Burk is a long-time collaborator with JJ Abrams and his producing partner for pretty much everything going down at Abrams’ Bad Robot production company. Although we don’t often hear from him, Burk is the fifth member of Trek’s new Supreme Court along with JJ Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. TrekMovie recently spoke with the producer about his plans and hopes for the Star Trek sequel.

TrekMovie: You have to deliver a movie to Paramount by June 2012, so when do you expect to start shooting?

Bryan Burk: We will be shooting this time next year. Starting early summer or late spring.

TrekMovie: So that puts pre-production starting around December this year or January 2011?

Bryan Burk: I would like to shoot for that, we will see.

Burk expects the crew to be shooting the Star Trek sequel by next summer

TrekMovie: When you look at this next movie in terms of scale and budget, like the recent Iron Man sequel where they gave them another $50 Million, are you thinking same scale or bigger?

Bryan Burk: Monetarily I can’t talk about anything because there is no script yet. I can tell you as we go into it, that our aspirations are for the movie to be even bigger and better than the first one. I don’t mean that just in scope, I mean content and characters and emotionally. We had a lot of conversations about Batman Begins and how that movie kind of re-invented that franchise, and we looked at what The Dark Knight did and how that really ramped it up and they went to a different place with that film, and how those two films keep re-inventing themselves and are not the same thing every time. So we have strong ideas of what we want to do and we are hoping that this one is an even bigger film than the last one.

TrekMovie: I know you guys originally hoped to bring the A unit to shoot in Iceland for the first one. Are you hoping for the sequel to take on challenges like foreign location shooting? Is that part of what you mean by making it bigger?

Bryan Burk: Obviously whenever you are doing one of these films you are hoping you will outdo the other one in terms of scope and making it bigger. I feel like, particular with the last film, we brought a lot of people into the Star Trek universe who either hadn’t been there before or hadn’t been there in a while, and now that you know who these characters are, we are hoping to take grander and bigger steps with the characters, emotionally. The stakes will be bigger and people will be more invested.

Burk says team looks to "The Dark Knight" as model for a sequel

TrekMovie: Speaking about the first movie. You guys got a lot of accolades from fans and critics, like the NBR Top 10. But in the end you guys did not get onto the list of 10 Best Film Oscar nominees, which did spark some ‘snub’ buzz in the media. Was that a surprise to you guys?

Bryan Burk: If we had been on the Oscar list, that would have been the surprise. The fact we are even having this conversation is flattering that anyone would think we would get a nomination for an Oscar for Best Picture. We were nominated in the special effects and sound categories, and I was particularly proud of the team we had working on it. And last year had incredible visual effects movies, and to say that Avatar changed everything is an understatement, let alone the sound design in that movie and Hurt Locker which was incredible work. We won actually for Makeup and I think Barney [Burman], Mindy [Hall], Joel [Harlow] and the whole team did an incredible job. So to say there was a snub — in a million years we wouldn’t think that.

TrekMovie: So you mentioned the team from the first film. Do you expect to get the whole band back together, like Ben Burtt, Roger Guyett, ILM, Scott Chambliss, everyone?

Bryan Burk: God yes! The plan is to reassemble them. Of course the problem is always everyone’s schedule. We would love nothing more than to work with all these people again. So hopefully everyone will be back.

TrekMovie: A nuts and bolts question. On the last film, you, Bob [Orci] and Alex [Kurtzman] were credited as executive producers while Damon [Lindelof] and JJ [Abrams] were credited as producers. For this one, are all five of you producers for this one?

Bryan Burk: Yes, all five of us.

TrekMovie: How does that all break out. For example, what is it that you do that JJ doesn’t do?

Bryan Burk: Sleep! [laughs] It actually depends on the project. We have a lot of things going on right now. Like on Star Trek my involvement was heavier on the beginning of the project and at the end of the production, and less so in the middle because we were doing the Fringe pilot at the time. So it is a lot of bouncing around, so where everyone needs help from wherever it might be, you just jump in. But for right now, the boys [Orci, Kurtzman, & Lindelof] are all off writing it.

Bryan Burk (left) with Paramount CEO Brad Grey, JJ Abrams, and Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore at November Star Trek DVD party – Producer expects original team to reunite for sequel


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Great interview.

For inspiration for scope, just look at the Isaac Asimov´s “Foundation” series, or Arthur Clarke´s “Rama” series, there´s nothing bigger than that.

For inspiration on “emotional investment “, just watch “Babylon 5”.

PS: Great interview.

This guy is irradiating energy :)

Well, he seems like a nice guy. Hope we hear from him again when there’s more news :)

I like the idea of a richer film and a weightier film (without becoming ponderous or pretentious). Usually Hollywood thinks “bigger” means more ‘sposions, but I expect this team knows better.

I just hope a “bigger scope” doesn’t mean they’re using TWO breweries for the engine room in this one.

It means more character investment! Or … the lens flares might be in 3-D this time :)

Agreed, bigger scope can´t mean another “Revenge of the Fallen”.

The key phrase in that whole interview is when Bryan Burk said, “now that you know who these characters are, we are hoping to take grander and bigger steps with the characters, emotionally”


If they stick to their word, we’re in for a real treat!

So far, I like what I reading about the sequel!

Thanks, Anthony! Great interview and article.

yeah I hope we get the engine room as it was originally envisioned at least. No more breweries please- just silly-looking stuff.

Bryan Burk seems like he knows what he’s doing. Good to know that he’s a fan of “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight”.


Totally agree Harry! If they can make a sequel that is FUN, THOUGHTFUL, SUSPENSEFUL AND INTELLIGENT then we are indeed in for a real treat.

And it may even surprise and enthrall Captain Neill. :-)

^^ “am reading,” I mean.

13 “it may even surprise and enthrall Captain Neill”

Miracles DO happen!

I don’t want a Star Trek Dark Knight. Let’s get back to the fun of the Original Series

Anthony, I wasn’t pre-picking on Captain Neill. It was just some gentle ribbing. Hence the smile symbol at the end of the sentence.

I loved what these guys did with Star Trek. The movie was really amazing and some great writing.

One weak point that i think is worth raising. Kilk on Delta Vega being chased by a large monster. Just as that monster is about to pounce Kirk it is caught in the jaws of an even bigger monster who then tosses it to one side and also chases Kirk.

That scene has been done soooooo many times starting with Jurasic Park.

Please don’t just throw in scenes we have seen a billion times in other movies.

As soon as you see something like that it takes you out of the movie for a bit.

I’ve said before that whoever wrote that opening sequence deserves a medal. No popular fictional character has ever been given such a noble entrance into the universe as has James T Kirk thanks to you guys. The opening was cinematic gold.


“I’ve said before that whoever wrote the opening sequence deserves a medal. No popular fictional character has ever been given such a noble entrance into the universe as has James T Kirk thanks to you guys. The opening was cinematic gold.”

Perfectly said. This scene is the perfect example of how to reintroduce an iconic character. Should be required study at film school. :-)

Yeah, I hope they don’t get too deep with the sequel. Keep it fun guys, that’s the secret ingredient that had been missing in Trek for so very long that was always evident in the original series. You managed to find that missing ingredient and delivered one great movie. Please don’t go all philosophical and lose your new audience with 2 hours of deep soul searching “drama”.

Please dont use B5 as inspiration it was a hokey sci-fi show with decent CGI for its time imgho


Oh, I think they can do both!

The best Star Trek, whether it be episodes or movies, always weaved philosophy with entertainment and action. Let’s have faith in Bob and Alex. They gave us a great first movie. They are certainly aware of the desire for the sequel to be even greater.

Glad to be finally getting some idea about the new movie, even though there’s nothing solid yet. I think DK is the perfect sequel, though, Batman Begins got everything set up great, much as Star Trek did, and then the next movie needs to push it.

Great post!

19 — “There is always a bigger fish.”

I hope going bigger in scale and scope means that when the Enterprise has her new engines installed, Engineering doesn’t look like a 20th century factory with a weird “Galaxy Quest” pointless destructo water blade thingy.

Yes, bigger in scope. Let’s get some more jaw dropping WOW out of the Star Trek universe for a change.

That’s why I go to the movies. I want to see things TV just can’t do.

Please no 3D!

Burk knows what he’s doing. He’ll channel the big action/sci films of the late ’70s early 80’s while making sure the characters act like they should and have real choices to make. Who cares about the details of the engine room or monsters. I’m glad the latest movie went back to making Trek fun again instead concentrating on useless tech or self-important messages.



No 3D.

#31: “…making sure the characters act like they should and have real choices to make.”

This. Exactly this. This is what I want more than any of the other things I could list. This. ThisThisThis.

#9 yes, that emotion word jumped out at me as well, Harry! ;-)

Ya know, I was watching TOS season 1 on blu-ray the other day, and it occured to me there was a perfect “Proper First Mission” for the enterprise crew… “Where no man has gone before”.

Remake that as a movie, the story was rock solid, granted the acting what a bit corny, but it was a perfect “The crew isn’t working as a proper unit yet, but watch how it unfolds” and had plenty of action. Just not much in the way of space battles, but they’re not hard to come up with for fitting into a movie.

Well the set up worked very good. Now they have the job of pushing the envelope. The cats been let out of the bag so to speak. And expectations are running high. But I think they can pull it off.

Mr. Burk,

You had me at “Batman Begins/The Dark Night”


Buzz, you and I are often on the same page!

I felt the story was light on true science fiction elements, in favor of special effects and bad jokes. When I hear bigger, I fear the story will suffer even more. Dark Knight was not a “bigger” movie than Batman Begins or any other Batman film. Revenge of the Fallen was a “bigger” movie than the first Transformers, and somehow it was even worse than the first hunk of junk.

I have no faith in Hollywood whatsoever not to take a figurative doo-doo on any script, even if its great. They’ve become addicted to CGI, and now 3D. They don’t care about stories, because the braindead minions will fork over $15 instead of doing something productive.

Sorry, but when did Star Trek become an Action genre? Somebody mentioned late 70’s and early 80’s sci-fi? Well, there were actually not a lot of action sequences in movies like Star Wars or Wrath of Khan or Superman. Those movies were driven by the stories and by the actors.

I hope I’m wrong, but when they start talking about movies becoming “bigger” I interpret that as bigger pieces of crap.

I also hope they don’t shoot it in 3D.
I have nothing against a film that is designed in 3D (ala “Avatar”), but I really hate the ‘tacked-on, afterthought” kind they used to bad effect in “Clash of the Titans.” I saw the 2D version of that movie and it was a little more ‘natural’ (as natural as a CGI FX movie can be, anyway). 3D for Star Trek would seem a bit unnecessary IMO (as the best of Treks have always been character driven, not FX driven).

Something original (as original as it can be after 700+ hours of Trek) would be nice enough for me. As long as they don’t do a straight, scene-for-scene remake of any of those 700 hours, it should be OK. After all the Trek that has been made, I understand there WILL be similarities to older installments (unavoidable at this point), but if they can arrange things in a fresh new way with this great new cast, they may catch lightning in a bottle twice (as the 2009 movie did IMO).

Good luck to the everyone involved. I look forward to it. ; )

The sequel needs a larger all-star cast with many recognisable actors making cameo appearances.

There need to be larger space battles with more starships.

I hope that James Kirk has several (human) love interests like James Bond and that they are played by Hollywood’s most beautiful young actresses.

Lady Gaga should have a cameo in Star Trek 12! Midway through Star Trek 12, I’d like to see Kirk, Spock and McCoy go undercover to a concert of hers on a distant planet like with Diva Plavalaguna in The Fifth Element (1997). Her character (the most famous and successful singer in the Alpha Quadrant) could have dark connections to the Orion Syndicate who should be the villains of the sequel as they are essentially the Mafia of the Star Trek universe, involved in piracy, smuggling, and extortion. An explosively intense, thunderous phaser fight could erupt interrupting the show when she sings Bad Romance, Paparazzi, Poker Face or Just Dance between Kirk, Spock and McCoy and some Orion Syndicate henchmen.

Uh oh.

Bigger than blowing up Vulcan and putting Earth in peril… again?

I just hope someone talks them down from this ridiculous “it’s gotta be bigger than the last one!” high. “Dark Knight” was not a bigger movie than “Batman Begins”, at least in concept, it was actually smaller since it was no longer an Origins story.

I’m smelling a “Batman Forever” or “Spider-Man III” in the offing. “This time, we’re gonna have Kang, Kodos, and Koloth all at the same time! It’s gonna be HUGE!” I sure hope I’m wrong, but we’re talking about the guys who blew up Vulcan and Romulus. Restraint is not what they’re known for.

I think Bob Orci once said that writting this one is a bit more underpressure than the first one. In the first you almost had your story pre-wrote in a way (the origins story) and how much reworking of that can you really do?
They of course added a lot of stuff to it and it came out great. But this one is kinda wide open, Its not a begining story for sure. So its a test to write what kind of adventure this young crew is going to have. If they want to try a Dark Knight template thats cool, but really Star Trek and Batman dont have a great deal in common as far as story goes IMO.
If they really want to be brave (crazy) do a early V’GER meeting. Guaranted to drive Trekkers nuts (and not in a good way)

I also hope they dont listen to the fans. If they had their way Star Trek 2 will have Klingons every other scene, cameos by Cap. Picard, Cap. Archer, Shatner, Sisko, Janeway, all at the same time, and all on the E bridge. Borg, and of course tribbles, who save the day. And maybe a guest appearance by The Incredible Hulk as well. :}


Not a lot of action in movies like Star Wars…

What? Are you kidding?

The nice thing about the brewery is, no continuity problem. However they design Engineering, we can assume all those exposed pipes were exposed only because the new ship’s interior wasn’t quite finished.

If you are looking at remaking an episode into a film, how about Norman Spinrad’s “The Doomsday Machine.” There could be side stories told to add depth but it had a great message. Plus, it was an exciting episode.

One thing that could be interesting in the new film is the weakened Federation. Vulcan is gone. And that leaves the Tellarites, you know the pig guys and the Andorians along with the humans left in the Federation. Oy vey. The pig guys against the Klingons doesn’t look good. I smell bacon.

Until the next movie comes out we need to something to tide us over. I guess that means watching “Enterprise” on the net. Its the series that “survives” the althernate timeline. If we could only get Ron Jones (TNG) to write a new theme song. :) I know some of you guys like the “Patch Adams” song but … “Patch Adams?” The more I watch of “Enterprise” the more I love it. It was a shame that in my town of Cincinnati, it was hard to get. We had Fox and WB affiliate stations, and the only one left was a low power station who had no clout with local cable.

One more thing, I just saw “Knight and Day.” In the movie, did Tom Cruise give Cameron Diaz a Vulcan neck pinch?

1. Bring back Porthos Junior to Admiral Archer!

2. I want to see Mandala Flynn and her security team.

3. Build the engineer room, and new TV SERIES with the warp core. A clever conception, like Babylon 5. Funny characters, like the Firefly characters. And aliens, like Moya crew from Farscape.

It would be “bigger”.

#42: ““Dark Knight” was not a bigger movie than “Batman Begins”, at least in concept, it was actually smaller since it was no longer an Origins story.”

Sharply observed, sir. Whenever folks talk about movies in terms of learning the lessons of _other_ movies, I always cringe and worry, because it’s so common for Hollywood to ignore the worthy lessons and pounce on the surface-level stuff :/

#44: “Borg, and of course tribbles, who save the day.”

Someday, we WILL see the Borg/Tribble alliance on the big screen, if we have to keep emailing the related naughty fanfic to the writers every six minutes for the next 20 years.

#47: “and the Andorians”

Plz no Andorians thx :( :( :( I luff them and wish to continue to luff them.

#48: “new TV SERIES”



I don’t want to speak for 39, but I believe he was referring to the pace of the earlier films. Indeed Star Wars did have a lot of action, but it also had many scenes of reflection, simple dialogue scenes with characters sitting still and talking, and, most importantly, a well-measured pace that steadily progressed to that big, final, whiz-bang battle (even the trench run was structured like a proper game of skee ball–squadrons one at a time, wait your turn).

Unlike today, audiences in 1977 didn’t have to contend with a constant bombardment of shaky-cam explosions and frenetic exchanges of dialogue that only an eight-year-old on a sugar high could understand. The original Star Wars was a film, not a two-hour music video.