JJ Abrams has plenty on his plate with the upcoming release of Star Trek Into Darkness on May 17.
Where most of us would love to take a good, long rest afterwards, Abrams will then have to dive into Star Wars, which is currently due in 2015. Trying to work within one incredibly beloved classic genre franchise, and keep it amazing and fresh is hard enough, but
working within two of the biggest franchises in genre history?
Forget it, most of us would be a basket case from the pressure right now. But Abrams has always been very good at multi-tasking, and like Seth MacFarlane, he’s practically an industry onto himself. He also had time to sit down and talk to Entertainment Weekly about straddling the sci-fi worlds of Star Trek and Star Wars, and in a word, he called it, “Madness.”
It took a while for the second Abrams Trek to get up and running, in fact, Paramount was hoping they’d be on to part three by now, but all the right pieces had to be in place before Abrams felt comfortable going forward. “It’s not decades, but it’s long enough that you do have to remind people that the thing is and where it’s at. It would have been better probably for the studio [if we’d put it out earlier], because it would have been fresher in people’s minds. But I’m happy we didn’t rush it. It wouldn’t have been a better movie if it came out earlier, I know that.”
And it’s good to see any filmmaker resisting studio pressure to make sure a movie comes out right. Abrams also said that the cast has had more opinions since the last time about the characters, which means they should definitely show some growth in the film. Yet Abrams didn’t say anything about Star Wars this time around, other than the “madness” comment, and he also told The Guardian, “The opportunities for characters and plots are endless, but I can’t really talk about it yet. Really the focus for now is Star Trek.”
Trek screenwriter Roberto Orci, who’s been on JJ’s team forever, is excited and sad that Abrams is going “to his Super Bowl. For JJ this is achieving a childhood dream. Star Wars is what got him in the business. It’s genuinely joyful for me. [But] as a guy who is in love with Star Trek and in love with this version of it? It puts a scared lump in my throat. It’s like hearing one of the band members is going to do a solo album. I know Star Wars is going to be better for it. And I suspect Star Trek will be fine with the rest of us still here.”
Taking over Star Wars reminds me of when Jaws 2 needed a director. Spielberg wouldn’t come back for a sequel, and over twenty top directors turned it down as well. They didn’t want to even try to follow up what was the biggest box office hit in cinema history before Star Wars came along.
And we saw a lot of top directors turn down Star Wars, including JJ himself before producer Kathleen Kennedy apparently made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. You have to admire JJ’s courage. Reinventing Star Trek is quite a task in itself, and if he can pull off similar magic with Star Wars, he’ll definitely be Hollywood’s MVP.