When J.J. Abrams and his team first signed on to resurrect "Star Trek," Hollywood insiders questioned whether sci-fi fans still cared about the franchise. After a $76.5 million opening this past weekend the previous franchise record-holder was "First Contact" with a mere $30 million — you can consider "Trek" successfully rebooted. And as you read this, a whole new series of sequels are being planned for this new alternate reality.
"One of the obstacles that we found ourselves butting up against [when we took on the job] was this idea that we already knew the fate of the characters," writer/producer Alex Kurtzman told us of the newly established parallel "Trek" dimension, forever altered by the reckless actions of time-travelling villain Nero (Eric Bana). "If you're going to bring a whole new iteration of 'Trek' to life, you could never put them in any real danger — because you already know how they either died or lived. So, we felt like, all right, we have to find a way to make the future unpredictable, so whenever they're in these difficult, treacherous situations there truly is the risk of death."
Word already leaked more than a month ago that at least one "Trek" sequel is in the works, and the series' gatekeepers confirmed to us that such memorable characters as Khan Noonien Singh and Dr. Tolian Soran are among the many characters whose life courses may have been altered by the events of the new film.
"All the characters who existed in the universe or canon we grew up with are essentially still around in some capacity," Kurtzman explained. "But their lives have been altered, so they may again intersect with our crew."
"There's a deal in place with the writers and the actors," Abrams said recently of "Trek" sequel plans, explaining that all the key actors are under contract to return. "If people like this movie, and there's a demand for another one, we would be happy to work on it."
Well, they certainly did — and Kurtzman and his writing partner Roberto Orci (who also collaborated on the upcoming "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen") told us that their minds are already swimming with sequel possibilities.
"I don't think we ever need to talk about time travel again," Orci explained, saying that Leonard Nimoy and other "original universe" cast members will likely be unnecessary from here on out. "In fact, in the end of the movie, the device that allows time travel is destroyed. So we're stuck with this universe we're in now."
"Now we're in this new world," Kurtzman agreed. "And we're just gonna have to live through the unpredictable future."
As for ideas in that universe, Orci explained: "We've had a couple of really preliminary conversations, but we really didn't want to [get ahead of ourselves], because this isn't something we invented. We wanted to see what fans think of the first one; let's see what works, and what people think is the best in what we've done. And then we can take that into account when we think about the next movie."
Asked how soon they'd start writing the "Trek" sequel if the first one is announced as a hit the Monday after opening weekend, Orci said: "That day."
"I'm already going back and reading some of the books I've missed," he said of "Trek" tales and fan-fiction that have been written in past years, which could be reinterpreted for their new universe. "I'm trying to read every 'Star Trek' book I can get my hands on. We did that a lot for the first movie. ... I'm starting to re-immerse myself again in what's come before."
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