Report: Star Trek 3 now has a 'frontrunner' for the director's chair

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May 9, 2014, 2:26 PM EDT

Here's who could be steering the ship for our next journey out into the Final Frontier.

Ever since J.J. Abrams jumped ship from the U.S.S Enterprise to go and direct a little movie called Star Wars Episode VII, we've been wondering who would replace him in the director's chair for the third installment in the alternate Trek timeline he sculpted with writers and producers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof. For a while, it looked like his replacement might be Attack the Block director Joe Cornish, but as of late last year Cornish was no longer connected with the project. Now Deadline reports that there's a new "clear frontrunner" for the gig, and that frontrunner is ...

Roberto Orci

According to Deadline, Orci has emerged as the favorite for the job "after an aggressive lobbying campaign," and is now "in talks" with Paramount Pictures. Orci is also already on board to co-write the film with J.D. Payne and Patrick McCay. Abrams is still attached as a producer.

Seeing Orci's name come up again isn't all that surprising in light of the recent news that he and longtime producing and writing partner Kurtzman (they've also worked together on things like the Transformers franchise, the Amazing Spider-Man franchise and Fringe) are ending their more than 15-year collaboration to focus on individual projects. When that news broke, it was reported that, while Kurtzman wanted to direct the Venom spinoff (which he's also co-writing) over at Sony, Orci was lobbying for the Star Trek 3 director's chair. Now it seems he's moving closer to getting it.

Of course, for fans who are already frustrated at the direction Orci, Kurtzman and company took Star Trek with the last two films, this news can only lower expectations for Star Trek 3. If you're among those fans, the fact that Orci has also never directed a motion picture before can only add to your anxiety. But hey, we'll aways have Wrath of Khan, right?

Star Trek 3 is set to be released sometime in 2016.

(Via Deadline)