Star Trek Into Darkness will be released in U.S. theaters Thursday, and its positive reviews raise the question: Will there be a Star Trek 3? A 2016 release date may already be in mind to coincide with Star Trek’s 50th anniversary.

star trek 3 small kirk spockInternational moviegoers have already been raving about director J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, and with the film hitting U.S. IMAX theaters today, all fans are going to start wondering if there will be a Star Trek 3. The real question is whether director J.J. Abrams will be involved in a third film. He’s taken the jump from Star Trek to taking over as director for the first film in the new Star Wars franchise, Star Wars: Episode VII, which is set to hit theaters in 2015.

Disney recently purchased the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas for $4.05 billion, and they quickly hired Abrams to direct their first film, in hopes that he can revitalize the Star Wars franchise like he has for Star Trek. A wise move on Disney’s part, but how does this affect our chances of seeing Star Trek 3?

Not a whole lot. While J.J. Abrams has been crucial to the success of Star Trek and its sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness is tracking to have a $100+ million opening weekend at the box office. It appears as though moviegoers are already looking for something new to watch, after Iron Man 3 gobbled up its massive box office numbers in its first two weekends, then slowly started to fizzle out.

This puts Star Trek’s sequel in a great position to fill the void. Star Trek Into Darkness has pulled in $31 million at foreign box offices so far, and it looks to make nearly triple that this weekend at the U.S. box office.

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With the release of the sequel, it appears as though audiences continue to enjoy the new Star Trek franchise that Abrams has created. While the films are costly to produce, mostly due to the massive amount of VFX shots which are essential to create the universe it takes place in, the actors involved aren’t exactly costly – yet.

What this means is that the studio can keep costs low with Star Trek 3, and possibly even lower if they hire a new director to replace J.J. Abrams – who is probably getting fairly pricey now that he’s Star Wars’ new wonder boy.

Paramount is most likely looking at a summer 2016 release date for Star Trek 3, as it will coincide with the original Star Trek’s 50th anniversary. Star Trek Into Darkness co-screenwriter Damon Lindelof explained to Trek Movie that he doesn’t see J.J. Abrams directing the next Star Trek film without “cloning himself.” J.J. Abrams told Yahoo! Movies that his involvement with Star Trek 3 isn’t on his mind right now, as Star Wars: Episode VII is his next project.

star trek 3 small j jWhen discussing Star Wars recently, Abrams said that he felt like he was being passed the ball for the franchise, we’re curious if he feels the same way about possibly handing off the ball to another director for Star Trek 3.

He says, “I never see myself doing anything more than what’s in front of me. What the approach is going to be remains to be discussed, because it’s in process, so it’s a weird thing to be talking about. If I’m charging down the court dribbling the ball, it’s hard to comment on the layup that’s about to take place. I feel like the ball is just getting passed to me now.”

Co-screenwriter Damon Lindelof did say that there may already be a storyline in mind for the third film which can be seen in Star Trek Into Darkness, saying “You can never see enough Klingons, and I think in this film we’ve given the audience a little taste, but there’s also a promise that there’s a larger conflict on the horizon, and that would be fun to see.”

So it seems there may already be something in the works in terms of a screenplay, and Lindelof seems interested in taking a look at Klingons and the larger conflict which is seen in Star Trek Into Darkness. We have a feeling that we will be seeing Star Trek 3 in the next 2-3 years, but director J.J. Abrams may just have his hands too full with Star Wars to fly this threequel into the timeslot that Paramount is looking for.

Do you think ‘Star Trek 3’ will be made?