It's official. JJ Abrams is beaming up for duty.
After months of speculation, the Lost mastermind has confirmed he will helm Paramount Pictures' first new Star Trek voyage in more than five years.
The tentatively titled Star Trek XI will follow the formula of franchise reinvention pioneered by Batman Begins and Casino Royale—i.e., do an origin tale of the main characters.
In this case, the new Trek will travel back to the Starfleet Academy salad days of James T. Kirk and his best half-Vulcan buddy Spock as they boldly go on their first adventures together in the final frontier.
Paramount is targeting a stardate of Christmas Day 2008 to launch the new-old crew.
The script is being penned by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who also wrote last May's Mission: Impossible III, which marked Abrams' feature-helming debut. Kurzman and Orci are also part of the production team with Abrams and his Lost pals Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burke.
There's no word on casting yet. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, both 75, played Kirk and Spock, respectively, on the original 1966-69 Trek TV series and in several Trek movies.
A self-professed Trek nerd, Abrams initially agreed to develop the project last year, taking on the daunting task of overhauling a creaky franchise that had grossed more than $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales but recently had fallen on tough times.
The last Next Generation-powered movie installment, Star Trek: Nemesis, bombed at the box office (with just $67 million earned worldwide on an estimated budget of $60 million, per Box Office Mojo). The most recent TV series, Star Trek: Enterprise, a prequel set in the days long before Kirk and Spock, lasted only four low-rated seasons before being canceled in 2005. And in 2003, Paramount and the Trek brain trust were sued by a former partner for letting the once vaunted franchise fall into "decay."
"If there's something I'm dying to see, it's the brilliance and optimism of [creator Gene] Roddenberry's world brought back to the big screen," said Abrams.
"Alex and Bob wrote an amazing script that embraces and respects Trek canon but charts its own course. Our goal is to make a picture for everyone—lifelong fans and the uninitiated. Needless to say, I am honored and excited to be part of this next chapter of Star Trek."
Of course, Abrams & Co. currently have their hands full trying to figure out what the heck is going on with Lost. Ratings for the ABC show have declined by 14 percent during its current third season. (Lindelof admitted last month that he and his fellow producers have begun talks with the network about setting a specific end date for Lost, in part to help keep viewers plugged in to the series' ongoing mysteries.)
Word of the Star Trek liftoff comes amid repots from New York's Comic Con that Stephen King has sold the Lost boys the rights to develop King's epic fantasy-western series, The Dark Tower, into a possible movie or TV show.
Fanboys will have to wait a while on that one, however.