Jonathan Frakes Doesn’t Think Any More Star Trek Movies Are Happening, Here’s Why

Jonathan Frakes says the chances of more Star Trek movies are slim because "TV is the future."

By Michileen Martin | Published

jonathan frakes star trek movies

Jonathan Frakes thinks that while Star Trek remains set in the future, its movies are a thing of the past. The man best known as playing Will Riker in multiple series and films in the franchise recently spoke to SFX Magazine (via /Film), and among other things he cast doubt on the prospect of more films in the franchise. “TV is the future,” Frakes said, while giving examples of big names of filmmakers who have tried and failed to make Trek movies since 2016’s Star Trek Beyond.

Talking about the current cinematic climate, Frakes said:

“Movies are tough! Even JJ [Abrams] can’t get this fourth movie off the ground. All those wonderful rumors? Noah Hawley was attached to a Star Trek movie, and Quentin was toying with people’s emotions about doing a movie. If those two names can’t get a f—in movie made, I don’t know. TV is the future, it seems to me.”

-Jonathan Frakes, SFX Magazine

Jonathan Frakes should know a thing or two about the difficulty of making Star Trek movies, considering he not only starred in four of them, but directed two. In fact, while he made his directorial bones helming individual episodes of Trek series like The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, Frakes’ feature directorial debut was on 1996’s Star Trek: First Contact, which would prove to be the most commercially successful film of the franchise until 2009’s Star Trek. He also directed and starred in the 1998 follow-up to First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection.

jonathan frakes star trek movies
Data (Brent Spiner) checking the accuracy of Will Riker’s (Jonathan Frakes) “smooth as an android’s bottom” claim in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

It’s difficult to dismiss his point about television being “the future.” While, as Jonathan Frakes points out, the fourth of the Kelvin Timeline Star Trek movies has failed to materialize in spite of the efforts of influential and acclaimed filmmakers, on television there has never been more Trek. When Star Trek: Strange New Worlds debuted last summer, it marked the first time there were five series in the franchise — along with Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, and Prodigy — running concurrently.

Sure, that might make you think Paramount has over-saturated the market with Trek, but it isn’t just the quantity of Trek out there, but the quality. Shows like Discovery and Picard have proven divisive among the fandom narratively, but visually the effects in just about any single episode of Discovery or Strange New Worlds are as impressive as, or in some cases more impressive than, anything we’ve seen in a Trek movie. What would be the point of paying to see a Star Trek movie when you can just subscribe to Paramount+ and wait for the next episode?

Whether or not Jonathan Frakes is right about his bleak outlook on the future of Star Trek movies, the franchise itself is far from done putting out content. The third and final season of Star Trek: Picard debuts on Paramount+ on Thursday, February 16. No firm premiere dates have been announced yet, but Season 2 of Strange New Worlds and Season 5 of Discovery are also expected to arrive this year.