Star Trek Beyond Barco Escape

Star Trek fans can be an obsessive and detailed lot, and there is no better illustration of their attention to detail than Memory Alpha. The Wiki of the Trek universe has everything and anything you could possibly want to know about the Federation, its allies, and its enemies. If you want to know something about a certain ship or a certain planet, the information will be there. It’s enormously useful if you’re just a fan…and as it turns out, enormously useful if you’re writing Star Trek Beyond. Simon Pegg, who co-wrote the screenplay alongside Doug Jung, ended up using it as a tool while penning the sequel:

We had the entirety of Star Trek history at our disposal and it’s always there online. There’s an amazing Wikipedia online called Memory Alpha. It became Doug [Jung] and my resource, and the place that we’d turn to whenever we wanted to know, ‘What kind of weapons does an NX vessel carry?’ Memory Alpha has it. We actually wrote to the Memory Alpha guys and got them to name a certain device in the movie. I sent them a letter saying, ‘Can you come up with this for me?’ In two hours, they came back with an entire etymological history of what the thing was. It’s beautiful. It’s fantastic to have that support network.

Like any fandom, Trek aficionados just want to be appreciated…and what better way to show your appreciation than to actually enlist the services of fans in writing a movie? Mr. Pegg sure knows a thing or two about building up goodwill with the fanbase.

topgun

Screenwriter Justin Marks is having a very good year. In addition to penning the massively successful The Jungle Book (which just opened to north of $100 million at the domestic box office), he’s currently writing the screenplay for Top Gun 2, which sounds like something of a dream project for him. Speaking with Creative Screenwriting, he spoke at length about his love of the original film:

Top Gun is the first movie that I remember seeing in theaters, and I saw it seven times in the theater because of my mother. We had just moved to Houston, Texas and she knew nobody there. I was six years old at that time, so she brought me with her. We both loved it for probably two very different reasons. I realize as I get older why my mother would love watching a movie about fighter pilots.

It’s a very iconic film in my memory, and in a lot of ways it’s one of those movies that I hold up when I say, “This is why I want to make movies.” I can recite it for you line by line, so when the opportunity came when they said they needed a new writer to start to figure out what this movie could be, I really just approached it from that place of, ‘Well, what would I not want it to be? What would it ruin for me? What would really, really make me angry if I saw it on screen? How would I start to build a story that would feel like an evolution from the first film, but also feels like something that would very much connect us to why we loved Top Gun and Maverick as a character in the first place?’

He also described the similarities in writing movies as different as Top Gun 2 and The Jungle Book – both of them required a lot of research on his part:

That’s really where it grew. It also came to the other facet that I really like to embrace – and I got to embrace on Jungle Book as well – which is that I like to get lost in the research for a little while. I like to dive into the world and go to these places.

We spent a lot of time at the zoo for Jungle Book, and I spent a lot of time researching animal behavior and studying this great book that was about wolf pack behavior that found its way into the story. Similarly, with Top Gun just researching the Joint Strike Fighters, the F-35, the different notions of where the Navy is today was a very interesting insight and it started to give me ideas of what Top Gun would represent in a current era.

Early buzz has suggested that Top Gun 2 would focus on Tom Cruise’s Maverick fighting for relevance in a military where human pilots are replaced by drones, which certainly sounds like an interesting route for a sequel. Could this be what Marks is talking about when he mentions what Top Gun could represent in modern times?

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