Paramount Pictures decided against hiring Roberto Orci to direct their upcoming sequel Star Trek 3, despite the studio getting ready for an early 2015 start date. The race is on to find a new director. And now, Paramount and producer J.J. Abrams have narrowed their search down to five contenders. Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt is at the top of the list.

Also being considered to direct the sequel, which J.J. Abrams left behind to focus on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, are Morten Tyldum, who just released The Imitation Game in time for awards season. Daniel Espinosa, director of Safe House who just wrapped on Child 44 with Tom Hardy. Fast & Furious director Justin Lin, who became available after The Bourne Legacy sequel with Jeremy Renner was pushed back to make way for Matt Damon's return. And finally, Duncan Jones, the director behind Source Code and Moon.

A director has not been decided on just yet, as a lot of variables have to be worked out first. The hope is to get the movie before cameras sometime this coming spring for a 2016 release date, and there are a few conflicts standing in the way. Daniel Espinosa is expected to direct the Boston Marathon bombing drama Boston Strong, which will shoot in time to include actual footage from the next Boston Marathon, which may put him out of the running. Duncan Jones is currently working on the massive Warcraft movie, which may not allow him time to come aboard.

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There are currently no scheduling conflicts standing in the way of Rupert Wyatt taking on the project. That is one reason why he stands a good chance of landing the job. His next film, The Gambler starring Mark Wahlberg, will be in theaters this Christmas. There is no further news about Edgar Wright boarding the project, though he was one of the first directors Paramount was reportedly after to replace Roberto Orci. There is still no official word on why Roberto Orci was removed as director, though he is staying onboard the sequel as a producer and is contributing to the screenwriting process.

B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange