Paramount isn’t confirming any of this, but I’m told that there soon should be good news and bad news on the Star Trek sequel front. The good news: With his film Super 8 set for release June 10, JJ Abrams is expected to announce shortly his return as director of Star Trek 2. The bad news: Even moving at warp speed, Abrams will be hard pressed to make the June 29, 2012 release date that the studio set for the film. I’m told that the move being considered right now is to push Trek back for a Holiday 2012 release. This comes after Paramount pushed back the other franchise film in its arsenal that has Chris Pine as its star. Pine’s also playing Jack Ryan in the reboot of the Tom Clancy-created series. Pine was expected to shoot that film first, but the script wasn’t ready. Paramount hired David Koepp to rewrite Adam Cozad’s script. Koepp just began writing this week after completing his film Premium Rush.
Why is Star Trek in such precarious shape, just 13 months before its release date? The film has three top-flight writers in Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof. Like Abrams, all of them have been busy on other films. Kurtzman directed Welcome to People. Orci has been busy on Cowboys & Aliens and in prepping the Gavin Hood-directed sci-fi epic Ender’s Game. Lindelof has been busy working on Prometheus, the Ridley Scott film for Fox that was conceived as a 3D prequel until Lindelof came on to do a rewrite and changed the concept so much that they consider it an original. The result? It doesn’t sound like they are close to having a script that will live up to the high quality of the first film that revived a dead franchise. On the Trekkie fan site Trekmovie.com, Orci confessed this week that they have a 70-page outline, and are waiting for Abrams to commit so that they can really get going. Well, that is hardly an enviable position to be in, exactly 13 months before the release of the film. Orci suggested in the interview they could prep the film from an outline. That is hard, particularly for a sophisticated, futuristic science fiction film. This is basically what happened on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and director Michael Bay has been open about the fact that the rush to make a release date with a script that wasn’t ready hurt the film. The cost of a Vfx-heavy film rushing like this raises the budget considerably.
Don’t be surprised if Paramount and Abrams push back six months at least. While Paramount doesn’t have the Marvel movies anymore, the studio could slot its G.I. Joe sequel for that early-summer release (I’ve heard other studios are now eyeing that date, too). Unless Koepp does an amazing job quickly and gives the studio a Jack Ryan movie that’s ready to go, Pine is still expected to shoot Star Trek first. According to the studio, nothing falls into place until Abrams declares his intention for the Trek sequel.