‘Star Trek 3′ recruits screenwriters Payne, McKay to join Orci

Dec. 06, 2013 | 6:01 p.m.
Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine in "Star Trek Into Darkness." (Zade Rosenthal/Paramount)

Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine in “Star Trek Into Darkness.” (Zade Rosenthal/Paramount)

Screenwriters J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have been hired to join Roberto Orci in penning the next installment in the “Star Trek” film franchise. The as-yet-untitled sequel has no release date, and no director set, though rumors have suggested the job could go to Joe Cornish (“Attack the Block”).

By this point, Orci is a “Trek” veteran, having written the scripts (with Alex Kurtzman and then Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof) for the previous two movies in Paramount’s rebooted series that were directed by J.J. Abrams, 2009′s “Star Trek” and this past summer’s “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

The recent movie prospered at the box office, earning more than $444 million worldwide after opening to mostly positive reviews in May, though many fans groused about the veil of secrecy that surrounded the villain who was played by Benedict Cumberbatch, a character first identified as John Harrison and later revealed to be the iconic Khan.

Abrams admitted earlier this week that he harbored a few regrets about trying to keep the character’s identity under wraps, lying about Cumberbatch’s role long after the secret was out.

“The truth is, I think it probably would have been smarter just to say up front, ‘This is who it is,’” Abrams told MTV. “It was only trying to preserve the fun of it, and it might have given more time to acclimate and accept that’s what the thing was.”

Previously, Payne and McKay adapted Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett’s graphic novel “Boilerplate,” about a robot soldier, for Abrams’ production company Bad Robot. That project is still in development.

Abrams, of course, is currently preparing to venture into a galaxy far, far away — he’s set to direct 2015′s “Star Wars: Episode VII” and is now writing the screenplay with Lawrence Kasdan, the duo having recently taken over the scripting job from Oscar winner Michael Arndt.

Earlier this year, Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore told Hero Complex that Abrams will still be involved with a third “Trek” movie, at the minimum as a producer. 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.

– Gina McIntyre and Noelene Clark

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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