Hollywood has no idea what they're doing anymore, and it makes things exciting for people who are trying to figure out how to navigate a business that no longer makes sense.
One of the things I've been fascinated by is this sudden push where studios are handing over giant franchise movies to fairly untested filmmakers. Over the last couple of weeks, I've been hearing some stories about how those jobs have worked out. In one case, I hear things are going very well, and people seem to dig the end result. In another case, I'm hearing that the director has stopped taking phone calls from the studio and they're looking for someone to supervise reshoots.
In both cases, I think the studios gambled in a huge way, and I understand how it's come to this, but that doesn't make it any less dangerous. The problem they're all facing is one of resource allotment. There are not many directors who have actual experience making these giant event movies, but there are more and more of these giant tentpoles that the studios are making. This means they have to start turning to people who don't have that experience and they have to hope that making an indie comedy with Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza for under $5 million means that someone is fully prepared to make a $150 million mega-sequel full of CGI dinosaurs.
Justin Lin makes perfect sense as a director for “Star Trek 3.” He's one of the guys who has been through this process enough times, with enough pressure on him, that the studio knows he's going to be able to get the film made on the schedule and the budget they want. Now it comes down to screenplay, as it should with any of these movies. What Lin brings to the table, aside from basic competence (more in-demand than you would expect these days), is a knack for directing an ensemble cast and an ability to stage the sort of absurdly gigantic set pieces that drive these movies now.
Ultimately, they're never going to hire an auteur to come in and put a personal touch on something like “Star Trek,” which is purely about brand management for Paramount, especially since they have very few in-house franchises that work. They made a decision that is purely about knowing that they will have a film in the theaters at a certain date, and you can't fault them for that. In general, there are so few safe calls to make now that we're having to completely refigure what we consider the A-list. We'll see if they stay focused on the time-travel storyline that would allow William Shatner to show up and play scenes opposite Chris Pine, or if the switch in directors leads to a new direction of the story as well.
“Star Trek 3” is still on track for release in 2016.