Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have been the screenwriters on many of the biggest films of the last decade, with Transformers and its first sequel, and the J.J. Abrams-led Star Trek series among their hits. Now their partnership is ending, as Kurtzman has signed on to direct a Venom movie, while Orci wants to helm Star Trek 3. But Orci’s not there yet.
Variety notes that Orci has been lobbying to direct Star Trek 3 (which he’s writing), and has the blessings of Abrams and producer David Ellison, but Paramount is holding back from giving Orci the job. As this is the nugget that’s become news, it’s possible that this is part of Orci’s campaign to direct and it was intentionally made public to help Paramount make the decision.
But it’s easy to see why Paramount doesn’t want him. First and foremost, he’s never directed a film before, nor any television. He has no demo reel, and this is going to be a production that costs a hundred million at the cheapest. Of course Orci has spent a lot of time with the franchise, and as both a writer and a producer knows his way around a set. Another strike against is that Orci is a name that seemingly brings nothing to the table (where Abrams could come in to both Mission Impossible: III or Star Trek as the visionary behind Alias and Lost) and in fact Orci may work against the project. Orci not only scripted the now widely derided Star Trek Into Darkness, he’s known as a 9/11 truther and his beliefs made him (or his people) delete his twitter account.
On top of which it was Orci’s work that turned Darkness into a disappointment –ultimately the film made less money than the first film in America — though if Paramount wanted to course correct they could have taken him off the writing side of things. Then again, with J.J. still behind this franchise (and with Paramount perhaps a little peeved that he moved on to Star Wars), it gets complicated.
Orci and Kurtzman were a hot writing duo who’ve worked on a lot of A-list movies, but they have mostly been personality-free works, with films like The Island, Cowboys and Aliens, and M:I: III showing clever but empty construction that often (even more so of late) build to set pieces and action beats on precarious ideas that fall apart as you watch them, while there’s a credible theory that Into Darkness is essentially a truther movie. Kurtzman can at least be credited with doing some leg work: He directed a small indie-type movie (People Like Us) which he surely delivered on time and on budget, which is why Sony is more confident about him being behind Venom. But after this weekend’s Transcendence, it’s likely that all studios are nervous about giving a nine digit film to a novice.
In a perfect world, who would you like to see directing Star Trek III?