Ever since the surprise announcement that J.J. Abrams would direct "Stars Wars: Episode VII," the internet has churned in rampant speculation mode. What will these films entail? Who will star? What characters would return? But in another corner of the galaxy, many were asking what would happen to Abrams' "Star Trek" franchise. The sequel, "Star Trek Into Darkness," hits theaters in May at the beginning of blockbuster season, but what of future installments? Won't Abrams be too busy with "Star Wars," particularly if that 2015 release date gets locked down?
The cast and creatives behind "Star Trek" have wondered the same thing aloud. Screenwriter and executive producer Roberto Orci expressed both excitement and genuine alarm. “For J.J., this is achieving a childhood dream," Orci told Entertainment Weekly in the latest issue. " ‘Star Wars’ is what got him in the business. So watching him go to his Super Bowl like this? It’s genuinely joyful for me. [But] as a guy who is in love with ‘Star Trek’ and in love with this version of it? It puts a scared lump in my throat. It’s like hearing one of the band members is going to do a solo album. I know ‘Star Wars’ is going to be better for it, and I suspect ‘Star Trek’ will be fine with the rest of us still here.”
Much like Orci's final quote, Zachary Quinto said "Star Trek" will be in capable hands whether or not Abrams sticks around. "J.J. surrounds himself with talented people," he told EW. "And if the day is coming where he has to hand off the director’s chair to someone, then we will all embrace that person and trust that [the new director is] the next best choice."
Chris Pine has also been worried, joking that he would kidnap his director if "Star Wars" took him out of the ballgame. Abrams' exit is a valid concern, and one actor has made a definitive statement. In a recent U.K. press line for the BAFTAs, Pegg was questioned point blank about "Star Trek III," and when asked if Abrams would direct the movie, he simply said, "He will do 'Star Trek,' " and the press line interview immediately concluded.
Some sites are already practically in rejoice mode, but Pegg's statement is hardly anything to bank on, especially when the principal players are essentially saying "we'll figure something out if need be." With "Star Trek Into Darkness" landing this summer, the logical date for a sequel is 2015, and at the latest 2016 (Though to be fair, rebooted "Star Trek" Abrams films have been four years apart thus far). But Abrams already won't commit to a 2015 "Star Wars" film because -- much like he did with 'Into Darkness' -- he refuses to put the release date cart before the movie horse, and won't let quality suffer for a rushed production (always an ideal plan if you have the Hollywood muscle to do so).
So if Abrams has already pushed one date ("Star Trek Into Darkness") and may push another ('Episode VII') for the same, valid, "we won't be rushed" concerns, how could he even possibly dream of fitting in "Star Trek 3" into his current schedule? OK, Paramount could be alright with another four-year gap between "Star Trek" movies, but that's still a tough timetable. If "Episode VII" arrives in summer 2016, you could be looking at a 2018 date for a "Star Trek III" film if it's directed by Abrams, and that would be five years between pictures. Is that too long for Paramount? And for Pegg's comments, it could be a case of wishful thinking or realizing the studio will work to whatever schedule Abrams wants, but as of right now, nothing's looking like a sure bet at all.
Update: Basically what we've been saying all along. Pegg doesn't know anything official. See his tweet below.
Just to be clear, contrary to reports in the press, I have no idea whether or not JJ will helm Star Trek 3.
— Simon Pegg (@simonpegg) February 11, 2013