A major shakeup for Paramount’s Star Trek franchise as Roberto Orci has stepped down from his position as director for the upcoming third film in the rebooted science-fiction franchise.
There’s no official word as to the circumstances for Orci’s departure, and even if there were, it would probably be something along the lines of the euphemistic “creative differences.” Badass Digest is reporting from their sources that Orci was butting heads with the studio execs over the direction of the film’s direction, even to the point of the studio temporarily shutting down production last month. If true, this does not surprise me in the least. Star Trek is one of the few franchise crown jewels that the studio has, and with so much of any studio’s financial fate tied to big tentpole pictures like Star Trek, the suits tend to manage these films very carefully. Although Orci has plenty of experience as a screenwriter and producer, this would have been his debut as a feature film director, so I would imagine that the pressure from the front office on him was extraordinarily heavy.
Orci got the job after franchise rebooter JJ Abrams headed off to a different galaxy to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens for Disney. Orci had previously worked on the screenplays as well as served as a producer for the two Abrams Star Trek films. Additionally, he is reported to be a big Star Trek fan, so on the creative side, it does appear as if this is a big loss for the film.
One interesting bit coming out of the reportage on this is the fact that apparently on Paramount’s shortlist of potential replacements for Orci is one Edgar Wright. Wright, of course, built his directorial reputation on his collaborations with Star Trek co-star Simon Pegg and reportedly visited his friend on the set of Star Trek Into Darkness. In fact, at one point before Orci was given command of the film, Wright had been under consideration for the job, but passed when his screenwriting partner Joe Cornish wanted to move on to a different project. Famously, or perhaps infamously, Wright and Cornish had worked with Marvel Studios for several years developing an Ant-Man film before walking away from the project right before production was set to begin. That split was indeed over creative differences, so I have to wonder if he would be willing to step back into a tightly mandated studio project like a Star Trek film versus continuing to develop his own projects.
No matter whom they get for the director’s chair, Paramount had better make a decision soon if they want to have the film in theaters in time for the franchise’s 50th anniversary in 2016.