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With a release date already scheduled for next summer, we figured Star Trek 3, or Star Trek Beyond, would begin filming before too long. It’s now on the horizon, but what about the script? Simon Pegg and Doug Jung took that on fairly recently, and though they’ve now finally turned in a draft, a big part of their process included shaving the screenplay down significantly.
Talking to Radio Times, Pegg revealed that he and Jung just turned in their first draft of the script to execs, and that it was kind of a monster that they had to tame. The general rule of screenplay writing is that one page is roughly equivalent to one minute of screen time. Pegg and Jung had to wrestle theirs down from 180 minutes to 135.
Talking about the time crunch, Pegg said:
We started again six months before we were due to start shooting, which is insane! In fact…we start shooting in Vancouver in four weeks—and we’re only handing in our first draft today.
Pegg doesn’t specify a concrete date for the start of production, but as his comments appear to come from the same interview where he talked about how the script he reworked was considered too "Star Trek-y" by the studio, it appears that this is a couple weeks old. That would mean that we’re even closer to the start of principal photography, and that maybe Pegg and Jung have had more time to tinker with the script.
If this sounds rushed to you, and makes you worry about the state of the screenplay, it shouldn’t be too alarming (at least no more so than all the other behind the scenes problems). It’s common practice these days for big blockbusters to get a draft right before production, and anymore many, if not most, continue to work and rework scripts while they’re shooting. And hell, as you know, Pegg plays Scotty in the reworked Star Trek franchise, so he’ll already be on set. Director Justin Lin and company can just lock him in a closet with a laptop if they’re not happy with what he turned in.
After a bumpy road that saw original writer and director Roberto Orci supplanted by Paramount over reported disagreements about the future direction of the series, it sounds like Star Trek Beyond is finally gathering steam. In addition to the core returning cast that includes Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, and Karl Urban, Idris Elba will reportedly play a villain (possibly a Klingon, possibly not, who the hell knows at this point), and Kingsmen: The Secret Service’s Sophia Boutella also signed up to go where no one has gone before.
Speaking of that, what we know of the plot indicates that, after two movies of sticking relatively close to Earth, Star Trek 3 will finally see the crew of the Enterprise in the midst of their legendary five-year mission to explore new worlds and seek out new life. That’s welcome news to Star Trek fans, and deep space enthusiasts in general.
Star Trek Beyond is scheduled to hit theaters next summer on July 8, 2016, to (roughly) coincide with the 50th anniversary of The Original Series’ 1966 debut.