Popular film director JJ Abrams has a way of tweaking fans all of his own: using online viral marketing schemes, he teases his potential audience with only tidbits of insider information and plot spoilers about his latest projects. Also, it’s been clearly established that Abrams will stop at nothing short of blatant misdirection, often times refusing to comment on what role his actors and actresses play, all in hopes of whipping up a fan base into a veritable frenzy.
His goal? To playfully coerce ticket sales higher and higher in anticipation of a must-see-movie.
His curious feints have fueled many heated internet debates surrounding some of the last decade’s most promising theatrical films, including Cloverfield, Mission Impossible 3, and Super 8. In 2009, Abrams brought his particular brand of cinema magic to the once-flagging Star Trek franchise, and the result was nothing short of box office gold: the film served to reboot the on-screen adventures of Captain James T. Kirk, and it went on to gross nearly $400 million worldwide.
However, his latest project – the long-awaited sequel to his first Star Trek picture – shows that the budding auteur may’ve bitten off more than he can chew.
Despite the release of two official trailers for “Star Trek Into Darkness,” as well as a special 9-minute sneak preview of the film played on exclusive IMAX screens, JJ Abrams now denies the motion picture has ever been made.
“Seriously, I don’t know what any of you are talking about,” Abrams insisted while appearing this past December 7th on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live. “The last I knew, Paramount was still waiting on Bob (Roberto Orci) and Alex (Kurtzman) to deliver the script. I heard they had some ideas – something about this big space ship going out to battle some other big space ship – but I swear that’s the last I heard. Principal photography can’t even be scheduled these days without a completed script approved by the studio … well, that is, unless you’re Christopher Nolan, which I’m not.”
“I don’t know who this Cumberbatch fellow is,” he added. “Sherlock Holmes? Seriously? I don’t even watch the BBC. I hate anything with subtitles.”
This latest unexpected development in the Official Abrams Deception Campaign for Star Trek 2 follows quickly on the heels of Abrams last deception, which included the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch rumored to play Khan Noonien Singh, more commonly known as ‘Khan,’ the fictional villain from the Star Trek television show. In 1967, Ricardo Montalban played genetically engineered superhuman who matched wits with Captain Kirk and nearly bested Starfleet’s finest. Montalban returned to the role he made famous in 1982 with the release of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.
For his take on the strongman, Abrams originally cast Benecio del Toro, a fact the director now denies.
“I’m not kidding,” he said, visibly disturbed, pounding a closed fist on Kimmel’s desk. “I really wish people would stop asking about Star Trek 2. I’m telling you. I haven’t even seen a script. Talk to Bobby. Or Alex. Alley, to his friends. Have them on. They’ll tell you that they’re still fleshing out a story.”
Initial ruses had Abrams claiming that del Toro was not, in fact, playing Khan. An unnamed Paramount Pictures executive claims that the director’s early media misdirection was so poorly received by the Oscar-nominated del Toro that the actor backed out of the film, claiming he couldn’t “find his character” if he wasn’t allowed to know who the character was. Recovering quickly, Abrams brought in Cumberbatch, a reality he now disavows.
“Didn’t you hear what I said?” he insisted to host Kimmel. “I already told you. I’ve never even met Cumberbatch! Aren’t any of you listening?”
In late 2011, the director stated for the record that Cumberbatch might be playing the strongman Khan, but he threw further speculation into the fray when adding the Brit could also be playing space conman Harry Mudd or the original series’ one-off villain, Gary Mitchell. In November, 2012, an unnamed spokesman for Abrams’ Bad Robot Pictures claimed that Cumberbatch was brought in to replace Zoe Saldana as ‘Uhura.’
“We wanted to take the Spock/Uhura/Kirk triangle in a whole new direction,” the media rep said but asked to not be identified.
With Abrams now claiming to have never even participated in the filming of Star Trek Into Darkness, Paramount studio executives are clamoring to figure out what to do with the May 17, 2013 release date.
“I always knew these viral marketing schemes would get the best of us one day,” said Brad Grey, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Paramount Pictures Corporation. “I always said that, one day, we’d be caught with our pants down around our ankles, and now it looks like JJ’s screwed us royally. I mean, you can’t release the trailer and not have made the film. This is the kind of sh#t that happens when you hitch your wagon to Scientology, I suppose.”
When asked what steps Paramount can take to salvage the impending box office disaster, Grey is quick to point out that, chronologically, May is still five-to-six months away, depending on the date.
“I’m not sure what we can do,” Grey explained. “The good thing is that we still have time. You can shoot three Seth Rogen pictures in a single weekend, and there’s always Adam Sandler, right? I mean, thank God for Adam Sandler! You don’t even need to have a script spellchecked to work with half of the folks who’d star in an Adam Sandler film, and I don’t want to tell you what it costs a studio to spellcheck a script these days.”
Despite the developments, CEO Grey insists Paramount hasn’t soured on its association with JJ Abrams.
“One of his people said we’d cast a male Brit to take over the role of Uhura?” he asked. “Oh, Jesus Crepes.”