Trek Core has posted the first installment of a multi-part interview with Star Trek 3 screenwriters Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne, and it’s an exciting chance to get a look inside the heads of two dudes who will be helping shape the big-screen future of Star Trek, but who have been mostly a big question mark up until now. The pair first caught Hollywood’s attention with a spec script they describe as “the Batman Begins version of King Midas,” which didn’t sell but became a calling card that was passed around town and helped build them a reputation. Other projects followed, eventually leading them including a draft of a Micronauts movie, until their journey culminated in the final frontier with the Trek 3 assignment — the sort of thing any up-and-coming screenwriter would chew off their own arm to get. The great news? McKay and Payne are avowed longtime Star Trek fans, and the interview proves, if nothing else, they can definitely talk the talk.
Even if you enjoyed J.J. Abrams’ first two Star Trek films, there was one thing sorely lacking: that whole “boldly going where no man has gone before.” I mean, sure, saving the galaxy from crazy, vengeful Romulans or crazy, vengeful genetically enhanced sociopaths is important, and certainly lends itself to epic big-screen action, but Star Trek is supposed to be about more than just action. We have yet to see this young, alternate-reality crew of the Enterprise truly head out into the galaxy to see what they can discover. According to Star Trek 3 co-writer/director Roberto Orci, however, that’s about to change.
That’s right, apparently Star Trek 3 will see Kirk, Spock, and the rest finally setting course for deep space to see what’s out there. Orci, who was a co-writer on the first two Abrams-directed Trek flicks, will be taking over the director’s chair for the third installment, as well as co-writing the Star Trek 3 script with hot new screenwriters Patrick McKay and John D. Payne (who also penned a new Flash Gordon script). Speaking on the Humans From Earth podcast (and spotted by Badass Digest), Orci said that, now that nobody’s actively trying to blow up the Earth, the Enterprise crew can actually begin that five-year mission that was the focus of The Original Series. Orci said:
Ever since J.J. Abrams announced that he was taking the helm of Star Wars: Episode VII, the Wheel o’ Rumors has been spinning contiuously when it came to who would now direct the inevitable Star Trek 3. Maybe it would be G.I. Joe: Retaliation’s Jon Chu. Or maybe Attack the Block’s Joe Cornish? Say, maybe Brad Bird (The Incredibles) would fit the bill. Well, it turns out it’s none of them, and in fact it’s somebody we hadn’t even considered a serious contender until recently: frequent J.J. Abrams collaborator and nu-Trek co-screenwriter Roberto Orci. And Star Trek 3 will be his directorial debut, no less.
Variety reports that Paramount and Skydance Productions have slated Orci to direct Star Trek 3, which he was already co-writing with J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay (the latter two are also writing a Flash Gordon reboot). But not, it’s worth noting, with longtime writing partner Alex Kurtzman. Orci and Kurtzman, who had been working together since the syndicated days of Hercules and Xena, had risen to be one of the most successful partnerships in Hollywood, in terms of quantity if not quality. The pair helped launch not only the revived Star Trek franchise, but also the current incarnations of the Transformers and Spider-Man series as well. Kurtzman and Orci announced last month that they were amicably breaking up the band to work on separate projects.
While some high-profile tentpoles, like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Hunger Games, looked beyond their narrow cinematic worlds to find directors after their initial helmers vacated, Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions are that progressive when it comes to Star Trek 3. Speculation about who will replace J.J. Abrams, who went off to do that other space movie, has revolved around the rebooted franchise’s writer/producer Roberto Orci, and it’s looking more and more like this will be his directorial debut.
What was that? Did somebody just cheer, or was that just the wind whistling through the trees? The wind, then. Okay. Let’s move on, but I’m watching you.
Even if you don’t know who Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (pictured above) are, you’ve certainly encountered their work. Having broken into the industry on syndicated ’90s shows like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, the duo went on to become one of the hottest writing partnerships in Hollywood. Their names can be found in the credits of huge summer tentpoles such as the Transformers movies, Mission: Impossible III, Cowboys & Aliens, and the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2. They also helped co-write the first two Star Trek reboot movies, but that long partnership will come to an end with Star Trek 3: Variety reports that Kurtzman will be beaming out of the franchise, whereas Orci is apparently campaigning to direct the third Trek film.
Flash! Ah ahhhh! He’ll save every one of us! It’s been a while since we’ve heard any updates about a big screen version of the classic spacefaring hero Flash Gordon, and we’ve been quite content with Hollywood failing to get this particular project into production. But that may change soon, now that Star Trek 3 screenwriters Patrick McKay and John D. Payne have reportedly worked up a pitch with producer Jon Davis, and they’re currently in the process of trying to make a studio deal. Can Flash Gordon save us from a terrible future version of himself? Let’s hope.
McKay and Payne haven’t yet produced any screenplays that have gone into production, but they’re definitely on the road towards success. Beyond the currently director-less Star Trek sequel for Paramount and Skydance, the duo have penned an adaptation of the graphic novel Boilerplate for Bad Robot, as well as a big budget version of the Biblical tale of Goliath. Is it possible Paramount or Bad Robot will want to get involved?