Orci Talks Star Trek Sequel Script “Polish” + Reveals Bit On Time Passed Between Films

Earlier this week we reported how Star Trek’s new Spock (Zachary Quinto) had made a comment about how the script for the Star Trek sequel currently in production is still going through changes. Now here at TrekMovie, co-writer/producer Roberto Orci has detailed the nature of these new "polishes." Orci also revealed something about the time setting between the two films. See below for more details.


Orci explains

As noted in the article earlier this week, it is not uncommon for scripts to go through changes during the production of a film, although it is different than the 2009 Star Trek film, which was mostly shot during a writer’s strike. However, Quinto’s commenting about the sequel script changing created concerns with some fans. Responding to one particularly pessimistic commenter here at TrekMovie, Orci tried to explain how the process for writing the Star Trek sequel has progressed. In so doing, he also revealed that the sequel time setting will not be the same as the four year gap between the 2009 film and the 2013 sequel. Here is his comment:

boborci: First, this movie is by no means written by committee. It has been written by ONE team. Me, Alex [Kurtzman], and Damon [Lindelof]. Thanks to the protective umbrella of the success of our first movie and JJ Abrams, we get less studio interference than almost any other production around. This process is the OPPOSITE of script by committee.

As for a full time trek staff, you should know that we have been working on the video game, the comics, and the story for the last two years. Trek has never been far from our minds. And we were doing all of that without even having a deal with the studio to do so (and our deal is only for script. all other stuff is pro bono to make the universes consistent). We were acting in good faith.

The reason the script wasn’t finished until recently is mostly for strategic philosophical reasons. We were not willing to turn anything in until we knew for sure that we had a start date, based on JJ’s availability. If we had written the script a year ago and it sat on the shelf, it would not have been current. Nothing messes up a script like it sitting on the shelf, because then everyone does get time to second guess and wonder, and then movies fall apart.

Finally, you should know the story hasn’t change, the structure hasn’t changed, and the action sequences haven’t changed. Most changes are minor. The changes I suspect Quinto is referring to are the character interactions as we fine tune the level of their various friendships. How well they all know each other and what they’ve all been through off screen is a nuanced yet essential part of the actors understanding where they are coming from with each other. While discussing the exact same plot elements, what they’ve been through colors their attitude toward each other. And given that the time past in real life is different than the amount of time passed in the movie world, it takes a polish to get it just right. That’s what polishes (a legal contractual word in our contract) are for.

Does any of this mean the movie will be any good? No. But if it’s no good, it will be because we were wrong to execute exactly what we wanted. Not because we changed our minds or someone changed our minds for us.

The Star Trek 2009 crew (except Spock) – Orci says nuances of character interactions are part of the changes being made to script 

Orci then followed up with more info, explaining how JJ Abrams embracing of new technology can call for edits in the script:

boborci: as an interesting addendum, the weirdest kind of changes comes from how JJ wants to move the camera. Thanks to advances in film making, we can move the camera around the ship in ways you couldn’t before — so sometimes lines will change or even who says them may change based on their position on the set relative to the coolest choreography of the camera moves. Keeps you on your toes as a writer for sure, but is is fun and worth it.

JJ Abrams directing "Star Trek" – Orci says some changes to sequel script are based on choices being made on set by the director and where he puts the camera

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Orci shares fresh info? Ya gotta love it! :>)

Hey Anthony, long shot here, but I studied journalism and creative writing at school and I’m a huge Trek nerd. Looking for anyone? Let me know.

Even longer shot:


Need some Scottish dude around the place? Who’s stitched up more than Kirk after Amok Time? Give me a shout.

Yeah, well Bob is saying that time passing in the real world is NOT equivalent to time passing in the movie world, so we don’t get much out of that. It might just mean that the actors need to reconnect to how they relate to each other since that could get lost in the interim. It doesn’t really tell me when the sequel starts, sooner or later.


Well I was never really worried when ZQ stated that the script was still changing. I do have quite a bit of knowledge of filmmaking and screenwriting and I am aware that this happens on practically every movie, some done as minimally as possible (such as this movie) and then others which change drastically so much so that the entire movie ends up being completely different than the script the studio initially greenlit.

Do not be worried, folks! The Supreme Court shall not let us down!!!

3 true! Its hard to say so much without saying anything;)

5. Tell me about it, I do it here all the time. ;)

“We were not willing to turn anything in until we knew for sure that we had a start date, based on JJ’s availability.”

This is the Hollywood equivalent of “the dog ate my homework.” This has got to be one of the lamest excuses for being late on a script that I have ever heard. LOL

5. boborci – January 29, 2012

Ha! Yeah buddy, well you are really good at it! ;-)

8. Why?

I’m probably in the minority here, but I like the fact that we don’t know anything and won’t know until we actually see the film. It worked so well for XI, and I think it’s better in general. I’m one of those people that’s really bad for making preconceptions so I prefer to not know and go in with an open mind.

@10. Wouldn’t it really be so much more refreshing if Bob just said the script took a lot longer than anticipated instead of constantly blaming JJ for it?

At least I know a lot more about Legal Polish than I did before.

8. I have no need to lie to you. I could easiky say it is because i was working on my top ten show Hawaii 5-0 for the same parent company, or because we didnt have a deal with Paramount. You can research and find out as well as anyone that JJ was not available to even prep the movie until after finishing press on Super 8 and taking a month off, which was August, and STILL we delivered in time to shoot onky 5 months later, cutting the average prep time of a movie this size by an average of almost 5 months.

Apology accepted.

Anyway, been a fun night, but I have to wake up in the am. Night all!

12. If that’s truly the case, yes. Bob’s usually pretty defensive/cautious on here, though — as I assume he’d have to be. I don’t remember anyone ever bringing up a critical point on here that Bob’s ever agreed with or acknowledged. But, i don’t read em’ all.

But, then again, I’m assuming it’s true.

12. I always mistakenly think that people prefer the truth, but more and more, i find Jack Nicholson was right.

@14. I’m not going to presume to know exactly how it all went down, but I do recall numerous articles over a long period of this website starting 2.5 years ago in which the script was reported as near completion, the writers were finishing the script in a hotel, etc. etc. So, sorry Bob, I am not quite buying that the delay is all due to JJ. I think you guys will produce on hell of Trek movie, and I am really looking forward to it, but if I want to learn time management skills, let’s just say that I won’t be asking you to lead a seminar on that topic.


Are you the kind of person who gets frustrated with annoying comments or questions, or do they not really get to you?

I’m interested because you engage a lot with people. More so than the norm, I think.


engage as in speak to them, not engage as in open fire. Just to be clear!

14. Always with the “top ten”s and the (paraphrasing) ‘oh yeah, critics? Transformers 2 made a mint!’

Ps. I do like that you come here and interact, but the “hey everything I do is successful!” / “well, you might not like it but jj did” (paraphrasing again) response gets a little…. you know. We already know what you do.

@16 “I don’t remember anyone ever bringing up a critical point on here that Bob’s ever agreed with or acknowledged.”

Yep. And I don’t expect it to happen here tonight. But I am sticking with my opinion on this.

@guys in general

What do you do? I want to be able to contextualise your posts here.

Me: I’m in a band, do some freelance videogame reviews, lots of writing/scriptwriting/dreaming, and looking for something to do more than just pay the bills.

So I’m coming from quite a creative/busy/poor background here ;)

The question I have for you, Bob is: How does the new movie trilogy fit into the original crews history, chronologically?
If it is to span to beyond the five year mission, into the movie era, then it would be safe to assume that several- if not many- years will gap the movies. However, If the trilogy is to cover only the first 5 years (assuming the alternate timeline allows for the historic first five year mission) then perhaps less time will have passed than in real life.
And thank you, Bob, for helping to restore my belief in the franchise’s future.


I definitely agree.

@21 “I do like that you come here and interact, but the “hey everything I do is successful!” / “well, you might not like it but jj did” (paraphrasing again) response gets a little…. you know.”

Well said, Jack.

18. Time management? Given that i have 3 shows on the air, and three movies in production, you might learn something from me about time management. The release dates did not move because of our script. That is just a fact. i told you how to do the math, and you ignored it by calling me a liar. If we had wanted a different director than JJ, thren you may have a point. We could’ve turned in a script he wasn’t available to direct and taken our chances with that the studio would find someone elese instead over his potential objections. You think that’s a good plan?

19. Annoyed is not the right word. I know how lucky i am, and i understand most criticisms. It is more about truth. I dont begrudge anyone their feelings or opinions. But when i think something is untrue, i have a pathalogical need to comment.

22. Not that I expect him, or anyone else in a similar position, to. I’m just one guy, but I’m not bothered by the delay. I’ll take the story at face value.

But yeah, it does frustrate me that I’ve never heard a ‘we maybe could have done that better’ on anything. And I’m not tryingto be a dink here, although I’m definitely being one. But, yeah, maybe it really is just honesty. And yes, saying that would be huge news, so I get it.

21. Never have i commented on the box office success of TF. And my 5-0 comment was about how i don’t use it as an excuse! Whuch proves no matter what i say, your opinions are your facts.

@27. Not calling you a liar, Bob. Perhaps a well meaning stretcher of plausibility though. Hey, aren’t we all at times. :-)

“It is more about truth. I dont begrudge anyone their feelings or opinions. But when i think something is untrue, i have a pathalogical need to comment.”

Okay. Fair enough. Have a good night, Bob.

@23 Fine since your question’s open and I have insomnia and nothing better to do at 7 in the morning. I act, I’m only an anonymous youtuber but you can’t run before you can walk. Though I am ready to film a big project I’ve been working on since October-ish (I’m almost a one man production team which is not that fun) but it’s really hard when all you can do is work around your mate’s schedules.

So I’m coming from a creative and poor background too, I guess. Hopefully I’ll get into uni this year.


There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I’m exactly the same.

The need to please everyone just leads to mediocrity, I find. And a boring life.

24. Wish i could answer!


Good to know I’m not the only one in this situation posting here. PS: school didn’t really help me ;)


One of the things that I enjoy about Star Trek is the sense of continuity & interconnection in that universe. So, I was wondering if you are planting any Easter eggs in the movie like you did in the last one ?


I just wanted to say I really enjoy the current version of Hawai Five O on the small screen as much as I did the original classic tv show from all those years ago. It’s also nice to see Terry O’Quinn being peppered in the current season every so often. It was also nice to see Robert Englund in one of the episodes from earlier this season. I wish that James MacArthur was still with us and it would have been nice to hear his take on the current show and who knows if he might have been interested in making a cameo role let alone a vist to the tv set. It would have been special. For what it’s worth, I hope the current show carries on for many more years to come.

@11. I agree with you wholeheartedly (is this even a word??:))
@ Mr. Orci – I cannot believe your perseverance! No wonder you are so successful in what you are doing! What’s your secret??:)

Hey Bob, how are you?. I have a question of a different nature. It seems most of the Trek films do not do so well outside of North America. I was wondering if you guys considered more advertising for other countries. I live in Turkey and here almost no one knows Star Trek. Only the older generation know of the Original Series. It would be sweet if you could advertise the movie over here and get some of the guys to promote the movie over here. Anyhow, rant over. Have a nice day on set. (you do go the set don’t you? I know of some films where the directors ban the writers :D)

36. We can’t help ourselves when we see an opportunity.

23. Me. Journalist/writer/reporter. Been off sick (depression) and draining my savings after a layoff and, as you can tell on here, get a little frustrated/over my head. Wanting to be more creative/ trying to make some sort of difference and am working on some fiction along with working on bill-paying freelance stuff.


I’m sure you do! I’d have bitten my tongue clean off by now. Perhaps we could all use a healthy dose of Thorazine to help ease the anxiety a bit.


I’m most intrigued to see the elements of this universe that HAVEN’T changed, especially visually. For example, other races’ ships, locations, all of that.

There were hints of that in the comic books that we recently saw.

Am I on the right track here? I’m not sure how to phrase this. Is this something you’re interested in exploring as well?

39. We are taking steps to make the Trek known to international audiences. Hopefully, you will see that pay off.

And yes, the set has been fun, since i am also the producer, i cant be banned;)


Sorry to hear things are tough.
Maybe some of us writers here should get together and start something. (This sort of broad statement is where ideas begin.)

Yeah and the Spock Uhura love plot sucks! The story should be the three! Kirk, Spock, McCoy. Don’t blow it .

45. Sorry, too much information. Just trying to explain my high-strung posts. And things are getting better. But, yeah!


Oh come on. So you’d go back to the days when the rest of the cast barely got a damn line?

Thank God you’re not running the production.


It’s cool! I’m just nursing a head injury, hence my curt responses and barely contained sense of rage ;)

I’m not always like this. Normally I’m as delicate as a newborn petal, trembling in the morning br… actually, I’ll stop there.

48 : yeah good thing!