05.13.2014 Update: Yep, looks like it's happening. Orci is now in negotiations to direct.
“We always try to approach these big action movies from a place of: Could you remove the robots and the spaceships and aliens and whatever it is and take that character story and make an independent film out of that little story?” Roberto Orci told The Los Angeles Times in 2009. “If you can and then you sprinkle back in the giant robots, you have something very unique.”
Orci and his writing partner Alex Kurtzman have co-written some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters in recent years, including “The Legend Of Zorro,” “Mission: Impossible III," “Cowboys & Aliens,” two of the “Transformers” movies, both of the “Star Trek” films directed by J.J. Abrams, and most recently, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” And it’s very debatable whether they’ve achieved that indie film principal in any of the aforementioned blockbusters.
In fact, fans have been calling for their heads in recent years. Fanboys lashed out hard after “Star Trek Into Darkness” and they’ve been doing the same after the release of the extremely story-hampered 'Spider-Man' sequel. Orci, has been getting the brunt of the heat, in part because he’s more vocal and also because he’s an avowed and public 9/11 truther (he deleted his Twitter account last year after some very strange and vulgar comments at fans).
In the meantime, Orci and Kurtzman have ended their screenwriting relationship because they both want to direct. Kurtzman already made the small indie “Welcome To People,” and he’s being tapped to write and direct the next Spider-Man villain film “Venom.” Orci has already been vocal about wanting to direct the next “Star Trek.”
Many pundits it out there see Orci as a questionable wild card. But apparently Paramount Pictures doesn’t and the bad buzz surrounding the screenwriter hasn’t hurt him, and has arguably even elevated his status (if you strike him down he’ll only become more powerful, right?), because it seems like he’s gotten his wish. Deadline is reporting that Orci—who has never directed a film before, let alone a gigantic tentpole—is the frontrunner to direct “Star Trek 3.”
It’s a bold move for all the aforementioned reasons. He’s never actually made a film before, and publicly, Orci is a bit of a loose cannon, but apparently he’s convinced someone out there, and probably one of them is J.J. Abrams, who is moving to more of a producer or exec-producer role now that he’s moving on to the “Star Wars” franchise instead.
It’s a risky move, but it’s also a testament to the way teams are building around filmmakers. Marvel has been doing much the same, hiring directors who know character, comedy and tone, but aren’t known for big blockbuster filmmaking (Shane Black, James Gunn, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo), and never once have they looked like they had no clue what they were doing. The difference, of course, is that all of these filmmakers had at least a few indie films under their belts and Orci would be going from 0 to 60 with what amounts to a mega-franchise.
He’s been involved in the series since its reboot inception, but knowing it front to back and being able to manage a huge ship like that is something different. We’ll see, I guess. Hat tip to the Dissolve for the above quote. Matt Singer recently put a long piece together about the Orci/Kurtzman writing relationship and you should probably give it a read.