J.J. Abrams was in the midst of postproduction on Mission: Impossible III when Paramount Pictures approached him to produce a new Star Trek film. Although Abrams knew that his friends Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who had written the screenplay for MI:III, were performing the same chores on this new film, he didn’t immediately jump at the opportunity. He’d never considered himself a fan of Star Trek; he was more of a Star Wars guy. Such differences can be important, particularly when it comes to fandom. But the more he thought about working on the project, and working with Orci and Kurtzman, not to mention his frequent production partners Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk, the more interested he became. They were a tight group, with similar cultural references, and they honestly enjoyed working together. Once he said “yes,” however, rumors immediately began circulating that he was also going to direct the film, and that he had not committed to do. Yet. He was, after all, committed to a variety of other projects, including Lost, which he had co-created and produced, Fringe, at the time a new show he was developing with Fox, and Cloverfield, which he was producing for Paramount.
But eventually, Abrams realized that if he didn’t direct the film, he’d regret it. He came to the project with great respect for series creator Gene Roddenberry and what the series had achieved. What ultimately inspired him about working with the subject matter was the same thing that had kept the franchise alive for so long: it wasn’t set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It was a hopeful vision of our own future. That said, he strove to make Star Trek (2009) feel as real as possible, using live sets and location shooting whenever he could. Which explains why a large portion of the Narada’s drill platform was built in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium, and why part of engineering was shot inside a Budweiser plant, and why a scene in the Starfleet auditorium was shot in the Long Beach City Council chamber.
“So much incredible stuff happens in Star Trek,” Abrams explained, “stuff that feels almost unimaginable to us. So I wanted to always keep it feeling as real as possible, emotionally and physically. I didn’t want to have it be all CG. I wanted to build as much as possible.”
Abrams also made the decision to shoot the film in anamorphic widescreen, so that the film would feel as huge as space itself. By the end of the process, Abrams admitted to a change of heart. He now considered himself a true blue Star Trek fan. Judging by audience response, both the original fans and the film’s newest fans believed him. The film’s worldwide gross at the conclusion of its run was $385.5 million... the most money earned by any Star Trek film ever. Abrams returned to the director's chair for Star Trek Into Darkness, which grossed $467 million worldwide.
As everyone in the universe knows, Abrams is producing and directing the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. However, he remains a part of the Trek universe, and is producing Star Trek Beyond.
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