The Star Trek Movie Franchise Is Headed Backwards

A Star Trek threequel is on the way. Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Viacom's (NASDAQ: VIAB  ) Paramount Pictures is taking a huge risk naming screenwriter Roberto Orci to direct the next film in the Star Trek movie franchise, Fool contributor Tim Beyers says in the the following video.

According to an exclusive report in Variety last week, Orci, whose screenwriting credits include work on Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, will team with J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay to write the threequel. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are expected to reprise their roles as Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.

Good news, right? If only it were that simple. Instead, history shows the franchise is suffering decelerating returns. According to, Star Trek earned a combined $578.6 million including box office, DVD, and Blu-ray revenue. Star Trek Into Darkness earned $540.4 million on the same basis. Orci is taking on a turnaround story.

We also know from history that, despite its cult status, Star Trek offers no box office guarantees. 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis failed with audiences, earning just $67.3 million worldwide on a $60 million production budget. Why take the added risk of hiring an unproven director for Star Trek 3? Tim says it doesn't make sense, especially when Paramount's revenue and operating income have declined in each of the last two fiscal years.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you believe Orci will get the Star Trek movie franchise back on track? Please watch the video to get the full story and then leave a comment to let us know your take, including whether you would buy, sell, or short Viacom stock at current prices.

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Read/Post Comments (21) | Recommend This Article (10)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 10:08 AM, AcuraT wrote:

    Paramount is absent from the Marvel univere as well as Star Wars as Disney owns both. They need what they feel is the closest thing to a "sure thing." The only thing in their "empire" is Star Trek. So, that is why they are gambling around this "tentpole" for that time frame. They don't have anything else to go with. It is a problem with the "me to" culture that is in the movie industry. Unless you have something better, you go with the best of what you have.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 10:09 AM, incognito67 wrote:

    "Do you believe Orci will get the Star Trek movie franchise back on track? "..really, how is making $578.6 million including box office on the first one, and $540.4 million on the same basis for the second being off track?? the last two movies made over a billion dollars...that is on tract to me, not being off track. that being said, who knows if this new director wont be any good? they must have saw something in him to give him this opportunity. im sure they didnt play pin the tail on the director to choose him. I say give him a chance and judge the final product till you condemn the guy

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 10:25 AM, manos wrote:

    Star Trek fans are purest. When you play and change the history of a beloved series you will run into a giant wall. Most fans watch this show from the beginning or picked it up in reruns. They know the story from the beginning to the end. The last two movies did not follow the history of the show. In the Star Trek universe that is a major mistake. If you play with a classic you will pay.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 10:48 AM, starbones wrote:

    Directing nothing! What about the writing? Here's an idea.How about writing something we haven't seen before?How did the movies get so far off base from the shows original purpose? Gene Roddenberry is turning in his grave as star trek has become all war and no explore.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 11:03 AM, SciFiJunky wrote:

    The reason why Star Trek: Nemesis didn't do well at the box office, and the reason why Star Trek Into Darkness was not as well received by audiences has nothing to do with "franchise fatigue" or general audiences not being interested in Star Trek. The reason, however, is because (simply stated) the stories were crap. If Orci can manage to make a captivating, exciting, thought-provoking (which is necessary for a Star Trek tale) film, it will make money. If he and his new writing partners churn out more of the same crap, it will not do well. It really is that simple. Tell a good story, use credible science in your fiction (hello?! a super nova threatening to destroy the universe??? Khan has super blood? WTF???), and don't try to shoehorn in the plot between action sequences you think might look cool on screen, and you might just find yourself rolling in greenbacks. Oh, one more thing. For the love of all that is holy, don't revisit past characters or steal - I mean create homages - to the past series. If I want to hear someone yell "Khaaaaaaaaan!" I will watch the Wrath of Khan. Star Trek is about moving forward and discovering the unknown. Let's see some of that.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 11:20 AM, morn1960 wrote:

    the only way to save the franchise, yet again, is to return to the original concept and reset away from abrams disaster. the last movie was just ridiculous

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 12:07 PM, mxavierw wrote:

    Paramount invested millions in research to remove Star Trek from the Star Trek movies, they wanted the blockbusters and got them. What the writer doesn't understand is that Paramount makes more from merchandising than Star Trek's box office and that's what matters. Besides, Motley Fool writers have predicted the last 3-4 Marvel movies would BOMB and that DC-Warner was ahead on points.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 12:41 PM, lattethunder wrote:

    Unproven directors who've helmed a Star Trek flick: Leonard Nimoy, Jonathan Frakes.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 12:49 PM, Ibetexas wrote:

    REALLY - Get back to the orginial stories!!! Stop trying to make Spock a lover!!! He has no emotions - KISSING... really - get real!! STOP changing what we have grown to know and love. Back to the REAL story lines.. True Trekies know the REAL people!! We WILL watch them and STAY LOYAL!!!

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 1:20 PM, jojo34219 wrote:

    The way this franchise has been rebooted in such fool-proof manner, even Barbra Streisand can direct the next Star Trek movie and it would be an enormous hit.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 1:43 PM, JJ82 wrote:

    You can call a duck a dog, and make it walk like one but it doesn't make it one.

    These were not Star Trek films, they were Star Wars films.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 1:51 PM, jerrie wrote:

    to bolding go where no man has gone before.......

    to explore strange new planets...........

    wow! what a concept! stick to the Star Trek we all know and love. it will make $$ if done right.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 1:54 PM, jerrie wrote:

    to boldly go where no man has gone before........

    to explore strange new planets.........

    Wow what a concept!

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 2:18 PM, arabbitwhisperer wrote:

    It took you almost four minutes to say what amounted to be nothing more than two sentences reiterated ad nausea. Nothing about the story line. The same for all other aspects of what will be coming. To this end, you are upset. As much as Paramount has invested in STAR TREK, i trust we as viewers will be in for a treat.

    GOD Bless,


  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 2:26 PM, zocolofishing wrote:

    Somebody was not going to like it, no matter what decision was made: But like many I was not keen on JJ.Abrams style. So maybe a different direction would be good. I'm not sure what you mean by backwards? When I say his style: I mean, especially with 'Into the Darkness' I felt he had turned 'ST' into a Superhero movie: Spock VS. Khan the battle to the death... JJ.Abrams style is boom,boom, bang. And very little pause to think before the next blast. But people of this day and age are dazzled by that.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 3:03 PM, Reaver wrote:

    Abrahms totally changed the timeline and history of a beloved franchise that had over 40 years of history. That to me is just criminal. What he gave us didn't feel like Star Trek to me. In my opinion, his Trek movies were crap. Scrap it and go back to the original timeline. With a decent director and script, Paramount will have their box office success.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 5:07 PM, stupidestfool wrote:

    You know i've been trying to get someone on twitter to listen to me but i have been continually ignored. No surprise there, twitter seems to be the place where fans get ignored! Anyway my foolish statement that i've been trying to get someone to listen to is this;

    Roxann Dawson

    (who has by the way been working on Agents of Shield lately as a director!)

    She has a massive list of directing credits including having worked on duh, Star Trek Voyager, like hello? irony of ironies!!

    At a time when most studio heads believe that women would scoff at the notion of directing Star Trek Roxann Dawson has remained consistent in directing genre programs in television. Unlike Roberto Orci who has no experience to speak of.

    Just like i ask on twitter, is anybody listening/reading this??!!

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 7:14 PM, bigmuddie wrote:

    Abrams version of Star Trek is just that, his version. I watched Star Trek when it is was first on in prime time when I was 7 or 8. Before everyone goes off the deep end, Roddenberry had left the show after the first season to begin working on another series. Most of the ideas like the Klingons and the Prime Directive were not his. They were Gene Coon's.

    Aside from the above, Trekkies like everyone else is comforted by the known. While I did not like the second Star Trek movie it is passable. Why not let someone else see what they can do. J.J. Abrams has a spotty record on TV maybe a fresh perspective will help the Franchise. anything has to better than watch Spock a Khan fighting on top of a fast moving flying vehicle going very fast. It looked like a western just in different guise.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2014, at 10:26 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    Thanks for all the comments, everyone.

    For another related (but still different) perspective, check out what David Edmundson at Geek Legacy wrote about the news:

    Foolish best,



    TMFMileHigh in CAPS and on the boards

    @milehighfool on Twitter

  • Report this Comment On May 22, 2014, at 4:54 AM, Erikdercf wrote:

    Mr. Orci has already made comments in the past that have offended fans so in think his being the director/writer must be a bargain package on Paramounts part. I don't like the direction Paramount has been taking. I've hoped that CBS and Paramount would work together to bring Trek back to TV. I can say I'd be more interested in buying Viacom stock if they would scrap the idea of Star Trek III with Orci. At this point I feel fans of trek should send a very clear message to Paramount by boycotting the film. I went to see Universals Fast and Furious movie the same day as "Into Darkness" and felt Universal made a more entertaining movie by leaps and bounds because it had a multicultural cast of characters with action that wasn't as predictable as "Into Darkness." "Darkness" was twisted and barrowed from past movies and its success stands on the shoulders of work that was done long ago by other men. I think that studios should invest in a long view. Ron Howard tried is still trying to bring the Gunslinger to life from a Stephen King novel. His idea was for a TV series that builds into a movie event. If Paramount wants to build Trek they should try similar and work hard with CBS to make that happen.

  • Report this Comment On May 22, 2014, at 8:59 AM, RobtJonz wrote:

    Orci is The Trekker in The Abrams Camp. I think that giving him more control over what will hit the screen for Star Trek 3 is a good idea because he "gets" Trek and there will be fewer filters in this process.

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Tim Beyers

Tim Beyers first began writing for the Fool in 2003. Today, he's an analyst for Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Supernova. At, he covers disruptive ideas in technology and entertainment, though you'll most often find him writing and talking about the business of comics. Find him online at or send email to For more insights, follow Tim on Google+ and Twitter.

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