Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Star Trek 2 Moving to Christmas 2012?

If you are a regular reader of this blog, TrekMovie or another Trek blog, then you are already aware of concerns by fans that the sequel will not make its June 29th, 2012 release date. These concerns were not really addressed when Roberto Orci revealed that at least some preliminary pre-production has started based on their 70 page treatment while they wait for JJ Abrams to finish with his Super 8 obligations.

Now two industry leading websites, Deadline and AICN, has waded in and also expressed their concerns, both believing that the film will be pushed back to Christmas 2012 or even Summer 2013 due to the lack of a shooting script. This is rather significant because Hollywood does read these sites and this will increase pressure for Paramount to firm up its Star Trek 2 schedule. Deadline even upped the ante by saying that Abrams was all but signed on the dotted line to be director of the next film. The suggestion of a move is entirely based on Orci's statements and has not been verified by Paramount. Based on current information a move may even be necessary but that window is closing fast.

The reasoning, again shared multiple times here and elsewhere, is that the now 13 months that remain may not be enough time, with visual FX being the leading cause as they take a long time to complete. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is an excellent example of a film that had about 13 months to hit its deadline, that worked off a rough draft and outline due to the writer's strike and the resulting film was even admitted to be poor by the director. That film had a few advantages though with a lengthy pre-production that gave VFX plenty of lead time and even then ILM had to go to a 24/7 schedule to make the deadline (about a week before the film came out).

If this film had the budget of previous non-Abrams Star Trek films (around $50 million and less) than it would be possible because the volume of effects out of necessity would be small and planned well in advance giving the VFX crew plenty of time to complete them. Assuming Star Trek 2 has at least the same budget and number of visual effects as the first film (hopefully with less lens flairs) than it might be do-able even without some of the advantages that ROTF had.

A broad estimate indicates that the film will need about three months of pre-production (design, set building, costumes, storyboards, planning FX, etc), three months of production (filming the actors, etc), and than 6 months of post-production (completing FX, adding sound, etc). So a year total. Thirteen months - one year leads to a month wiggle room. So the math indicates potential success. On top of that, JJ Abrams had done more with less twice now with both Super 8 and Cloverfield as they both filmed on essentially the same schedule (but then smaller budgets). He also comes from the world of television where the filming pace by necessity is just faster. The more time Abrams can create for post-production, the more likely the film can make its release date. His experience can make it happen.

The one huge caveat remains - the final script. Nothing can be nailed down for sure until the shooting script is written and approved. Assuming my estimates hold true, the line in the sand deadline for this film is at most the end of the first week of July (to account for 4th of July holiday). Each day after that significantly raises the odds of the film being bumped to a different release date.

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