BEVERLY HILLS, California — Stardate, 2002: After the double failures of the movie "Nemesis" and recently launched, little-watched TV show "Enterprise,"
Stardate, 2009: Like Spock in the third "Trek" film, the series has defied the odds and been remarkably resurrected.
How did one of the most beloved franchises in science-fiction history fall into such a rut? And how did director
"I never doubted J.J.," said
"Of course, [the success of the reboot is credited to] J.J. more than any of us," agreed
"Everyone obviously realizes the history of 'Star Trek' — and ... the decline of 'Star Trek,' " Yelchin added of the series' dark days at the beginning of this decade. "But, like John said, it's J.J. — so he must know what he's doing."
Although Abrams' movie-directing career doesn't go any deeper than "Mission: Impossible III," the 42-year-old icon took on the "Trek" gig in the midst of an unparalleled hot streak that has seen him follow up older TV hits "Felicity" and "Alias" with his stamp on "Lost" and "Fringe" and the box-office hit "Cloverfield." And as Abrams himself has explained, his lack of "Trek" knowledge allowed him to avoid some of the series' old pitfalls.
"The original series had not been revisited in a while, and J.J. not being a fan was helpful," screenwriter Roberto Orci agreed. "If we could come up with a story that would attract him, we knew that then we might have a chance with the general audience that didn't know anything about 'Star Trek.' "
In doing so, Orci and writing partner Alex Kurtzman became convinced that they could sidestep the geek-friendly in-jokes and scientific stiffness that had limited the franchise's audience. "We had heard a lot [of theories about the series' problems] and talked to people," he remembered. "[They told us] that 'Trek' represented a cold sci-fi, that women felt alienated by it, and that because there was a long continuum of 'Star Trek,' you couldn't come into it if you hadn't already become a huge fan.
"We felt like, 'Well, wait a minute. There's no reason that it should be alienating,' " Orci added of their game plan. "There is so much warmth, so many great positive things in 'Star Trek.' It's an adventure that is for everybody — men, women, kids, adults, it doesn't matter. [Ours] is just a huge, fun space adventure."
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