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Star Trek Into Darkness recently inched past the $200 million mark at the American box office, making it the fourth-biggest film of the year and, counting in international box office, already bigger than the first Star Trek. It's basically exactly what you hope for when you release a sequel, and you would have to be crazy to be a director and walk away from a franchise like that… unless, of course, you're J.J. Abrams, and Star Wars has come a knocking.
When Abrams look over the Trek franchise in 2009 he gleefully stepped away from many bedrock tenets of the Trek universe, rebooting the saga to make Kirk fatherless and rig up a romance between Uhura and Spock, and ditching the high-toned conversations about science and duty for a few more action beats. Some Trek fans embraced the new reality, some didn't, and many of them seemed perversely happy when Abrams stepped over to Star Wars earlier this year; in the words of my Trek friend Jordan Hoffman, "He's your problem now, Nerf Herders." Plenty of Trek fans assumed Abrams might do for the Star Wars universe what he did for theirs, picking and choosing the rules and characters he wanted and ditching the others, making everything a little sexier and shinier and more successful-- but maybe not necessarily the world they fell in love with.
Abrams, true to form, is still keeping nearly all the details close to the vest, but talking at the Produced By conference on Saturday, he said something that might prove those Trek fans right. According to the report at Deadline, here's how he plans to tackle the next phase of the Star Wars universe:
“I think that the thing is so big and so massive to so many people that the key to moving forward is honoring but not revering what went before."
That's pretty much his attitude toward Trek in a nutshell, and as we've argued before, a lot of the skill that Abrams brought to Trek really does suit Star Wars so much better, from his action chops to his desire not to get bogged down in the details of speculative fiction (unless you're all really going to miss the trade disputes and Senate meetings of the prequels, that is). It's hard to know exactly what "not revering" will mean for Abrams in this context, since he's an avowed Star Wars fan and probably just as nervous as you are that he might screw everything up. But after three prequels that seemed completely bogged down in the mind and imagination of George Lucas, Abrams isn't just a new person in charge, but someone set on his own ideas-- something I worried would be a problem when jumping into a previously established universe, but which might have the power to save Star Wars from its own musty past.
At the conference Abrams also mentioned plans to move to London at the end of this year to start production in early 2014, a timeline we've been hearing about for a month now. Right now we're still picking up the crumbs of information Abrams and company are willing to give us. Does his promise not to revere the canon fill you with hope and/or dread? Or is it just one more way for Abrams to misdirect our attention while proceeding to do, well, pretty much whatever he wants?