No matter how involved Roberto Orci has been involved in the new “Star Trek” franchise as a writer and a producer, it was always going to be a huge gamble to put him in the director's chair for “Star Trek 3.”
I've heard some people offer the opinion that on films of a certain size and budget, directing is just factory work, and anyone can do it since they're propped up by their various department heads and their second units and their cinematographer and… hogwash. That argument can be negated by looking at the way certain filmmakers are able to clearly express personal themes and styles even when they're working in the blockbuster space. It is not a job that just anyone can do.
Orci evidently campaigned hard to get the job in the first place, and there was a fairly extensive director search already. If Deadline's reporting is correct and Orci is indeed stepping down as director, then they're going to have to start again.
I'm intrigued by Mike Fleming's mention of Edgar Wright as one of the people on the short list to take the job, but the last time I spoke with Edgar, it sounded to me like he was focused on original material at this point. I'd love to see him take on a film this size, and I can't help but wonder how Edgar's way of shooting and cutting would fit when applied to something like “Star Trek.” He doesn't approach action in the standard blockbuster way, and I can't imagine him muting his own style no matter what film he's making. Joe Cornish, one of Edgar's closest friends and collaborators, was one of the people who was originally in the hunt to direct the film, but Orci was determined at that point to direct it himself and I think that was clear to any of the directors in the mix.
This next “Star Trek” is important since it's coming out on the 50th anniversary of the series being created. It also feels like Paramount's got to make a choice about how the series moves forward. I love the 2009 “Trek,” and I thought the second film still had a great energy even though there were some big script issues. The cast is in place, though, and it feels like the right filmmaker with the right script could still turn this into an even bigger series than it already is.
According to Devin Faraci, script issues may be behind Orci's sudden change in status on the film, and I'll be curious to see if they also bring in new writers as they find a director, or if they'll hire someone who can do both.
Whatever the case, this must have Paramount worried because the clock is ticking if they still plan to make that 50th anniversary release date.