With J.J. Abrams focused on directing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it was widely speculated for months that Star Trek Into Darkness co-writer Roberto Orci would be promoted to director for the tentatively titled Star Trek 3. Originally it was just assumed that he had scored the position, although Orci later stated that Paramount was waiting to see the script before they made a decision. However far along they were in the process, it looks like Orci won’t be leading the starship Enterprise in 2016. It’s being reported that Orci will not be the director of the third Star Trek reboot film.

Although he won’t be directing, Deadline is saying he will remain as a producer. The article also mentions that among the names on the short list to succeed Orci is Edgar Wright, who left Marvel’s Ant-Man earlier this year. While Orci has been writing and producing projects for years, the 2016 blockbuster would have been his directing debut. Orci also recently stepped down as producer for the Mighty Morphin’ Powers Rangers film. This film is aiming for release on Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, so whatever happened behind-the-scenes, Paramount must have decided that Orci wasn’t a good fit for this installment, or perhaps Orci stepped down willingly to focus on his writing and producing pursuits. Either way, the studio is going to need to find a replacement fast if they’re going to stay on schedule.

Orci co-wrote Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness with his former movie-writing partner Alex Kurtzman, and was also a producer on both films. Recent projects of his include co-writing and executive producing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and producing Ender’s Game. Details on Star Trek 3 are sparse, although it was rumored several months back that there is a role in the script for original Captain Kirk actor William Shatner. If it’s true (and if he accepts the part), Shatner would be reunited with his former co-star Leonard Nimoy, both playing older versions of their alternate-timeline selves rather than the Spock and Kirk from the original timeline.

Orci not directing is probably for the best. Although the reboot films have been commercial and critical successes, many hardcore Star Trek fans have been harsh on the new films, especially Into Darkness. Much of their blame is placed on Orci and Kurtzman’s scripts, and considering all the elements of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that Into Darkness either replicated or twisted, I don’t blame them. It’s doubtful that putting Orci in the director’s chair would have been an improvement. Also, as mentioned earlier, Star Trek 3 would have been Orci’s directing debut. Sure he’s been involved with the franchise for over seven years and has been writing in Hollywood for even longer, but maybe this isn’t the best project for him to get started on.

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