J.J. Abrams directing ‘Star Wars’: What happens to ‘Star Trek’?

Jan. 25, 2013 | 4:39 p.m.

J.J. Abrams, who has made a name for himself writing, directing and producing such hits as "Lost" and "Star Trek," was tapped in January to direct "Star Wars: Episode VII." (Tracey Nearmy / European Pressphoto Agency)

Abrams made his first foray into television in 1998, co-creating the coming-of-age drama "Felicity," which starred Keri Russell as the title character. The show won a Golden Globe and an Emmy. (The WB)

Abrams created the Jennifer Garner-starring spy thriller series "Alias," which won four Emmys and a Golden Globe. (Norman Jean Roy / ABC)

J.J. Abrams on the set of "Mission: Impossible III," the first feature film he directed. The film earned nearly $400 million at the worldwide box office. (Paramount Pictures)

Director J.J. Abrams and star Tom Cruise on the set of "Mission: Impossible III." (Paramount Pictures)

Director J.J. Abrams and star Tom Cruise pose atop Shanghai's historic Bund 18 building after wrapping up filming in China for "Mission: Impossible III" on Nov. 30, 2005. (Associated Press)

Abrams co-created "Lost" with Jeffrey Lieber and Damon Lindelof. The suspense-filled show followed a group of people after their plane crashed on an island. The massively popular series became a cultural touchstone, with millions of viewers tuning in for twist after twist. (ABC)

J.J. Abrams is photographed in Los Angeles in April 2006. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

J.J. Abrams, second from left, poses with the cast members from "Fringe," a sci-fi television series he co-created with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. (Rich Lam / Getty Images)

J.J. Abrams reveals his first casting for his 2009 reboot of "Star Trek" during a 2007 Comic-Con panel in San Diego. (Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times)

A scene from Abrams' 2009 film "Star Trek," which raked in more than $385 million worldwide. (Paramount Pictures)

Steven Spielberg, left, co-produced the 2011 film "Super 8," which J.J. Abrams wrote and directed. The pair are shown here at a 2009 dinner honoring Spielberg in Beverly Hills. (Michael Kovac / WireImage)

J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg on the set of "Super 8." (Paramount Pictures)

Director J.J. Abrams and actor Kyle Chandler on the set of "Super 8." (Paramount Pictures)

Young actors Joel Courtney and Riley Griffiths discuss a scene with director J.J. Abrams on the set of "Super 8." (Paramount Pictures)

J.J. Abrams, left, and Eric Kripke executive produce the post-apocalyptic adventure series "Revolution." The pair are photographed here at Abrams' company Bad Robot in Santa Monica on Aug. 20, 2012. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Abrams, second from left, shares the stage with "Star Trek Into Darkness" actor Benedict Cumberbatch, star Chris Pine and producer Bryan Burk during a December 2012 press conference for the sequel to their 2009 blockbuster. (Koji Sasahara / Associated Press)

J.J. Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath are co-chairs of the Children's Defense Fund of California. They're photographed here in December 2012. (Mark Davis / Getty Images)

J.J. Abrams is photographed in Beverly Hills in June 2011. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

J.J. Abrams is photographed in Beverly Hills in June 2011. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

It’s a question that immediately sprang to the minds of fans of two franchises with Thursday’s news that J.J. Abrams will direct “Star Wars: Episode VII.”

What happens to “Star Trek”?

According to Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore, Abrams — who directed both 2009′s “Star Trek” and the upcoming sequel “Star Trek Into Darkness” — will still be involved in some capacity with a possible third “Trek” movie, at the minimum as a producer, if not also directing the film.

Moore also pointed out that Abrams will continue to play a role in another of the studio’s most valuable franchises, “Mission: Impossible.”

“J.J. will continue to develop projects for us including a new ‘Mission: Impossible,’ and he is committed to produce another ‘Star Trek,’” Moore said Friday afternoon.

With 2009′s big-screen reboot of the beloved television and movie series, Abrams won over a new generation of audiences with a broadly entertaining and accessible take on Gene Roddenberry’s venerable cast of characters — and satisfied hard-core fans by creating a place for Leonard Nimoy to appear as Spock alongside Zachary Quinto’s new take on the beloved Vulcan.

Anticipation for the May 17 sequel is astronomically high. Paramount wisely began stoking interest in “Star Trek Into Darkness” starting late last year, with the release of a plot synopsis, a poster, a teaser, a trailer and then rolling out nine minutes of footage before Imax 3-D showings of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Last month, Abrams revealed the nine minutes to select journalists at a Century City screening room. Two days later, at the Santa Monica offices of his company, Bad Robot, the writers and select cast members — including Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch — gathered to chat up reporters and to show off costumes and props from the upcoming film.

Damon Lindelof, who wrote the script with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, said the early rollout was inspired by director Christopher Nolan’s early reveal of footage from “The Dark Knight Rises.” With four years having passed since Abrams’ first “Star Trek” film, Lindelof said, “there had to be a lifting of the curtain a little bit,” otherwise fans grow suspicious.

With just about 100 days to go before the film officially opens, though, word of Abrams’ defection to a galaxy far, far away — news that met with a decidedly mixed reaction — raises questions about who might direct a third “Trek” film, should Paramount move forward with one, and what role Abrams and his creative partners Lindelof, Kurtzman and Orci might play in a future installment.

Abrams’ schedule likely would prohibit him from stepping behind the camera, though there was a four-year gap between “Star Trek” and the upcoming sequel. If Abrams does not direct, that could leave either Lindelof or Kurtzman and Orci in the director’s chair, or perhaps another Abrams associate such as filmmaker Matt Reeves, who helmed the Abrams-produced monster movie “Cloverfield” (though Reeves is set to direct “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” for Fox).

It seems for now Abrams’ relationship with Paramount remains strong — every film Abrams has directed or produced since 2006′s “Mission: Impossible III” has been for the studio, where Bad Robot enjoys a lucrative first-look deal.

Still, executives can’t be overjoyed by the idea of Abrams working on “Star Wars” for Disney, especially with the promotional effort for “Star Trek Into Darkness” continuing to pick up steam. At least for the moment, journalists are probably more interested in hearing about how Abrams might further George Lucas’ vision than deciphering the identity of Cumberbatch’s mystery-shrouded villain.

– Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex


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19 Responses to J.J. Abrams directing ‘Star Wars’: What happens to ‘Star Trek’?

  1. G says:

    Please Paramount fire JJ from Star Trek. Create a new cast and give it to Brian Singer, Joss Whedon, Jonathan Frakes (for the Riker as Captain idea) or whomever. A new movie series or TV show…whatever.

    Only then will I be paying for new ST content.

    • Gene says:

      Oh, hell no! JJ's done a fantastic job on Star Trek. I want him to finish the trilogy as director, not producer. As for Star Wars, let them have Singer (whom I'll never forgive for what he did to Superman), Whedon (who's already in disney's stable). If they go back to TNG, maybe give it to Frakes. But the series is set in a different TOS timeline, so there will be a while to wait. Screw Disney, let them get their own unattached Director, stealing JJ from Trek is… well, cheesy (putting it mildly).

      • Connie says:

        Oh, hell yeah! I don’t want action scenes so mired in lights that they look like they have been shot in a makeup trailer, or so dark, I have no idea what’s going on. A good movie is worth more to me than camera tricks.

        Besides, the second installment of Star Trek was just a mesh mash with no new material in it.

        During an Abrams film, I find myself disappointed, possessing a screaming desire to reach up and steady the camera while attempting to remix the sound for better quality. I always exit the theater with a migraine, feeling like I’ve just wasted the price of a ticket.

        JJ could be a great force in the industry. Instead, he has substituted flash for substance. Now that he is headed over to Star Wars, I see another favorite universe that will be getting the “same old, same old.”

    • Thomas says:

      You maybe the only person who thinks JJ should not be attached to Star Trek.

      • Jason says:

        No, he isn't. I pray this news leads to the end of JJ-Trek once and for all! I want to see REAL Star Trek again!

    • bearflagfan says:

      JJ Abrams did a great job with Star Trek and the new cast is perfect. But as others pointed out Abrams seems to get bored quickly. I like the idea of handing it off to Joss Whedon, although he may be a bit tied up with Avengers sequels.

      • bearflagfan says:

        Watched MI: Ghost Protocol again last night and reminded me of another excellent action director/storyteller: Brad Bird. Yeah, he previously did animation (The Incredibles, Iron Giant) but they're all fast-paced and interesting. Plus he did MI under JJ Abrams production. I'd watch a Brad Bird Star Trek.

      • Connie says:

        Joss Whedon has so much creativity, he could make constructing a peanut butter sandwich dramatic, enduring, captivating, funny, and sexy. Imagine what he could do with the Star Trek franchise. I vote yes!

  2. Francis Yip says:

    Yes! … Joss Whedon should take over Star Trek franchise … A better writer and director than over-rated J.J. Abrams. And the new ST captain should be ex-browncoat Nathan Fillion !

  3. NNB says:

    Mr. G I totally agree with you man!

  4. Guest says:

    Be smarter.

  5. gallser49 says:

    People. Abrams can come up with some great concepts, such as Alias, Lost, Fringe but then he loses interest and moves on to another project. The projects do end up suffering because of this. The same thing is about to happen to Star Trek with him now moving on to Star Wars.

    If he were a chef, he would come up with this great, mouth watering menu, you would order only to find out he's down the street at another restaurant and the souez chef had to take over and the meal comes out burnt. Much the same way he burns his show fans.

  6. Mandy says:

    Good grief. Give it three more movies and Princess Leia's daughter will be carrying Spock's baby.

  7. Mandy says:

    I thought the Star Trek reboot was the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. The prequels were terrible.

    • daniel says:

      Deffinitely! he made STAR TREK watchable, because he introduced some of the stuff that made awesome the original STAR WARS trilogy

  8. bearflagfan says:

    Now all that's left is for JJ to direct a reboot of Stargate and the 'Star' circle will be complete.

  9. James Petrie says:

    I watched Star Trek and understood it since it first arrived in 1966. I've been watching it, and every attempt to copy it, up to this minute and the original was simply not understood by any Director, until JJ took it on. Haven't they learned a thing from all the Star Trek failures. You've found the right Director. If you change the Director we will get junk and the Producer will lose a lot of money. Producers like money so listen up – JJ is you man.
    James Petrie

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