Step 1: Plan to make Star Trek 4! Step 2: Whatever you do, don’t tell anyone you plan to cast in Star Trek 4 that they’re going to be in Star Trek 4; especially not the lead actor, Chris Pine. Step 3: Profit?
Well, apparently that is basically the plan Paramount had when it announced that the long-awaited Star Trek 4 was on the way. Last week — in the middle of a long list of announcements that included a Sonic the Hedgehog spinoff series and a hyper-focus on streaming — Paramount announced that Star Trek 4 would be filming by the end of the year with the original cast on board, and an expected release date of December 2023. But now THR is reporting that the studio made its announcement before letting Chris Pine or the rest of the cast aware of it. Apparently neither Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldaña nor John Cho or their respective representatives were aware of a release date, or that the film would begin production by the end of 2022. In fact, THR says the movie’s script isn’t finished, it hasn’t been officially greenlit, nor does it have a firm budget.
This does not seem like a great way to revive the Kelvin Timeline film series, especially considering the future of the narrative has been on unsure ground for a while now. As the theme song for one of Star Trek‘s less successful TV series begins, “It’s been a long road” bringing Chris Pine and co. back to the Enterprise bridge. As THR points out, the most recent entry — 2016’s Star Trek Beyond — suffered the worst box office performance of the films since 2009’s Star Trek. There was word for years of Quentin Tarantino bringing Star Trek 4 to the big screen as his final film, with a focus on a mobster story along the lines of the original series’ 1968 episode A Piece of the Action, but it never materialized.
The blunder seems even more mind-blowing when you consider talent involved. Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, and Zoe Saldaña in particular are all a part of big, multi-movie and TV show franchises outside Star Trek. If Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as George Kirk, you can add his name into that bag. To simply assume they would be available to film by the end of 2022 makes Paramount sound like they’ve been dipping into the Romulan ale a bit too much, especially when you consider the sorry state COVID’s Omicron variant has left Hollywood’s production schedules in.
The good news is that the time does seem perfect for Chris Pine and the Kelvin Timeline crew to return for a new Star Trek movie. When Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premieres in May, the franchise will have three ongoing live-action series — with Discovery and Picard — running concurrently for the first time. Not to mention its two animated series, Lower Decks and Prodigy. While there are those Trek fans who thumb their nose at anything new, the rest are enjoying a Trek renaissance. That doesn’t mean don’t tell the actors that they have a job before you tell everyone else, but it’s still a good thing.