When Marvel hired Joe Quesada many years ago to produce comics about some of its lower-selling, but still-popular characters, Quesada approached the gig with one core strategy: hire the most talented creators he could get to work on the books and let them do their thing. It was a sound enough tactic that it eventually got him the job of Marvel's Editor-in-Chief and he's kept doing it to this day, bringing in top talent from not only the comics medium, but also film, television, and novels.
In an effort to revitalize itself, Paramount is doing something similar. According to an article on Trek Today, Paramount is "producing several 'high-profile tentpole' movies, and having them developed by some of the most talented people in Hollywood." Take your hottest properties and hire the hottest creators in your industry to work on them. Pretty easy math.
Undoubtedly, the new Indiana Jones movie will help with this, but Paramount's also looking to reboot their suffering Star Trek franchise. After the pre-mature cancellation of Enterprise, most folks (me included) thought that Star Trek was gonna have to lay low for a while before audiences would give it another shot. "Pshaw!" says Paramount. "All it needs is an original idea." And I agree with them.
Rumors have been floating around for a while of a series or movie based on the concept of Starfleet Academy. I never heard more details on it than that, but I always assumed it would feature an entirely new cast of young characters. Variety is reporting that a new Trek movie is in the planning stages and that it will be partly set at Starfleet Academy, but that it will feature some familiar characters: young versions of Kirk and Spock (and presumably some of the other characters from the original series -- certainly the Gary Mitchell character from the pilot episode who was supposed to be Kirk's best friend in the Academy). The movie will show their meeting at Starfleet Academy and follow them on their first mission into space. (Incidentally, the image accompanying this post is from a DC comic that chronicled stories from this same time period.)
The high-profile creator attached to the project is J.J. (Felicity, Alias, Lost, Mission: Impossible 3) Abrams. He'll write the screenplay (assisted by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who both helped him write the M:I3 script) as well as produce (assisted by his Lost co-producers Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk) and direct. Plans are to have it ready for a 2008 release.
As a fan of Abrams since his Felicity days, it strikes me that he's the perfect guy to do a Starfleet Academy film. He knows how to write young characters, especially ones in an educational setting. He also knows how to write thrilling action stories and compelling mysteries, both of which skills will come in handy when trying to make a great Star Trek film. Honestly, I never expected to be truly excited by a Star Trek project again. I'm glad to be wrong.