2009's Star Trek rebooted the final frontier for the big screen. Bad Robot's BRYAN BURK tells Tara Bennett how the past powered the future
Trek reboot producer speaks!
As co-founder of Bad Robot Productions with JJ Abrams, Bryan Burk helped to creatively shepherd an array of hits from Alias and Lost to Cloverfield and the rebooted Star Trek movie franchise. The series was never on his childhood radar, Burk admits, but he tells SFX that the last seven years have been all about discovering his inner Trekkie…
Why did you return to the classic crew for the recent movies?
I can tell you from our initial conversation with Bob [Orci], Alex [Kurtzman], Damon [Lindelof ], JJ and I, the first sentence out of everyone’s mouth was, “We’re going to blow up Vulcan so everyone knows we’re not f-ing around.” However, Leonard [Nimoy] or Bill [Shatner], or both, are going to be in the film because Gene is no longer with us and they are the carriers of the flame. If we are going to try and go forward with this franchise, we have to do it with one or both of their blessings to be able to make it.
What are you most proud of about the first two films?
In general with Star Trek, a lot of people came out saying they really liked it and it wasn’t what they thought it was going to be. For me, that was the biggest win. More than anything else, what I liked about the second film, and it sounds crass, but our box office doubled internationally which was really telling because people were starting to see
[Trek] and not be afraid of it in the rest of the world. My goal for the Star Trek franchise is to make it something that when a film comes out in all these countries that were not traditionally
Star Trek fans, they are now starting to become Trek fans. The reason we even got involved was that it was the first time I could remember at any time in my life that there wasn’t a Star Trek project happening. Nothing was going on. We didn’t want to do another one for the sake of it, but to take all of that history and put it back in the world for people to discover yet do it differently.
Star Trek Into Darkness was polarising because of its use of Khan as a villain. Why did you go for such an iconic foe?
The original logic of making Khan the villain is the same reason why when they did Superman they used Lex Luthor, or with Batman, it’s the Joker or the Riddler. There are only a handful of villains who are legendary in the canon. Obviously we could have picked another one or made them up, but it seemed like an exciting thing to bring in the biggest, most nefarious villain.
What’s director Justin Lin bringing to
Star Trek Beyond?
I’m a big fan of Justin Lin’s work. No one directs action like Justin, but on top of that, he’s a big Star Trek fan. It’s about “Where does he take these characters and what’s his take going to be?” In the beginning, you could see a palpable excitement as the cast started to work with him. I think the scope that Justin brings to this movie is enormous. It’s a Star Trek that will exceed everyone’s expectations and that’s all we can hope for.
What does Star Trek need to do to survive another 50 years?
It’s still following the guidelines set up by Gene Roddenberry and sticking to the idea of a future where our problems aren’t amongst us, and it’s out there and we’re working together. It’s more than just firing phasers at each other. I believe the next 50 years could be better than the last, and I’m counting on it and hoping for it. Somewhere there’s a little boy or girl reading this and they will be inspired to take the torch and continue where we briefly have our hands on it. What are people going to do next with it?
Recasting the most iconic friendship in SF. “Look, I’m not saying it goes well for the people on Vulcan.”