Chris Pine Reveals How Star Trek Has Changed For The Worse

By Michileen Martin | 1 month ago

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To a lot of old-school Star Trek fans, the notion of Chris Pine complaining about change in the franchise is pretty ironic. There are still plenty of devotees to the original series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and other parts of Trek who see the so-called “Kelvin Timeline” films as a lesser clone of what came before. But thirteen years and millions of lens flare jokes after Pine assumed the role of Captain James T. Kirk with 2009’s Star Trek, and it’s one of the films he led — 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness — that remains the highest grossing movie in the franchise. According to William Shatner’s successor, that’s part of the problem. Pine says Paramount is dragging Trek into a league it was never meant to play in.

Speaking to Deadline in a story posted late last week, Chris Pine expressed frustration not specifically with the storytelling of new Star Trek, but with the financial expectations. “We always tried to get the huge international market,” Pine said. “It was always about making the billion dollars. It was always this billion-dollar mark because Marvel was making a billion. Billion, billion, billion. We struggled with it because Star Trek, for whatever reason, its core audience is rabid. Like rabid, as you know.” The so-far insurmountable challenge, Pine says, is bringing in those uninitiated to Trek. “To get these people that are interested that maybe are Star Wars fans or think Star Trek is not cool or whatever… we’ve definitely done a good job of it but not the billion-dollar kind of job that they want.”

By any metric, Chris Pine is right. Star Trek Into Darkness enjoyed a worldwide gross of $467.4 million. The first in Pine’s Trek movies took in $385.7 million, and the low man Star Trek Beyond brought in $343.5 million. Meanwhile, without adjusting for inflation, when it comes to the ten films that preceded the Kelvin Timeline, the highest grossing film of them all was 1996’s Star Trek: First Contact, which had a worldwide gross of $146 million. So even the worst performing Kelvin Timeline Trek movie made $200 million more than the best performing of the original ten films.

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But Paramount needs a bigger return because of their inflated budgets. That $146 million that First Contact made? As Chris Pine is no doubt aware, First Contact‘s entire gross is less than the budget to make 2009’s Star Trek ($150 million). The budget for Into Darkness was $190 million and its follow-up cost $185 million to make. Pine thinks it’s time to scale back.

“I’ve always thought that Star Trek should operate in the zone that is smaller,” Pine argues. “You know, it’s not a Marvel appeal. It’s like, let’s make the movie for the people… that love this story, that love Star Trek. Let’s make it for them and then, if people want to come to the party, great. But make it for a price and make it, so that if it makes a half-billion dollars, that’s really good.”

Whether or not Paramount takes Pine’s words to heart remains to be seen, but we wouldn’t wait in a compartment that lacks oxygen. The studio is putting a lot of eggs in its Trek basket. With the premiere of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds next month, for the first time Trek will have three live-action series running concurrently (with Discovery and Picard), plus the two animated series Lower Decks and Prodigy. Then there’s the ever-elusive (perhaps fittingly so) and long-brewing Section 31 spinoff that hasn’t graced fans with any updates in a while.