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Star Trek 3 has had its share of problems, and it hasn’t even started filming yet. There were behind-the-scenes kerfuffles with the studio that led to the director/writer Roberto Orci parting ways with Paramount. In the aftermath, writing duties for what is now known as Star Trek Beyond were handed over to Simon Pegg, and apparently he’s doing what he can to make the script less like Star Trek than ever before.
Pegg has been making waves for his recent comments about the state of geek culture, but his latest statement about how he and the studio are approaching the new Star Trek movie may cause ripples among hardcore fans. Talking with Radio Times (via The Guardian, the RT interview isn’t online yet), Pegg talked about taking over the Star Trek Beyond script and what the executives at Paramount want out of the new movie. He says:
They had a script for Star Trek that wasn’t really working for them. I think the studio was worried that it might have been a little too Star Trek-y.
When Orci, who was set to make his directorial debut with Star Trek 3, broke with Paramount, one of the reasons floating around was because the studio took a look at the success of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and wanted to take their franchise in that lucrative direction. For his part, Pegg actually draws a comparison to a different Marvel superhero movie, The Avengers.
That seemingly niche movie, based on a beloved but specialized property, made $1.5 billion dollars, while the last Star Trek movie, Star Trek Into Darkness, made less than one-third of that. And the studio is wondering why. From his description, the approach they’re taking is to move away from the feel and aesthetic traditionally associated with Star Trek and give it a makeover. People don’t necessarily think of it as a soaring, action-heavy franchise (though the two rebooted films certainly took that approach), and they’re looking to alter the public perception, to make it what Pegg calls, "Saturday night entertainment like The Avengers." He continues, saying the strategy is to:
make a Western or a thriller or a heist movie, then populate that with Star Trek characters so it’s more inclusive to an audience that might be a little bit reticent.
Given the reaction of a large number of longtime Trekkers to the last two movies (there are a lot of fans who aren’t particularly pleased with the reincarnations), this isn’t going to be welcome news. One of the biggest complaints has already been that the new Star Trek movies don’t truly feel like Star Trek, that the emphasis is more on action and spectacular visuals, like a Star Wars movie, rather than the things they love about the earlier franchise. To hear that the studio is trying to move even farther in that direction in order to make it more accessible and palatable to general audiences is going to rub many existing fans the wrong way.
Hopefully Simon Pegg and co-writer Doug Jung will be able to strike a balance between what makes Star Trek its own unique entity, and the more populist style of entertainment that Paramount appears to be after. However it shakes out, we’ll find out on July 8, 2016.