After many false stops and starts, and even rumors the project had been cancelled, it finally seems like things are moving forward for Star Trek 4.
The current series began in 2009 with a film directed by J.J. Abrams, followed by another Abrams project in 2013, and then Justin Lin’s movie Star Trek Beyond in 2016. Though the fourth project was greenlit in 2016, it has been a long road getting to it. We’re only just beginning to gain momentum toward seeing Star Trek 4 hit the big screen.
Where has all the drama landed? What can we expect from the return of these stories in the beloved sci-fi franchise? This is all we know about Star Trek 4.
Are We Getting Star Trek 4 Or Not?
Shortly after ViacomCBS announced to investors that another Star Trek movie was in the works, there came word of strife between the movie’s chosen director and the studio. That didn’t sound good and now things are all over the place. No one seems sure whether this movie is still happening or not.
The latest update comes from composer Jeff Russo. Russo has done scoring for Star Trek: Picard and apparently he’s also friends with Noah Hawley, who in theory is supposed to be directing Star Trek 4.
Russo says he’s been talking to Hawley about the score for Star Trek 4, which indicates that Hawley is on some level still working on the movie. However, those discussions don’t sound very serious. Here’s what Russo told ComicBook.com…
“We have had conversations about what it might sound like, what it might be, what he’s thinking. Nothing is set in stone right now. The movie is still in development and still being written and there are lots of pieces that need to get put into place, so who knows what’s going to happen?
But Noah and I are close friends as well and we talk about music all the time and talk about that and talk about the Star Trek that I’m already doing and we talk about that and right now we’re working on Fargo so there’s always talk about that. This was two people who are artistic talking about what the possibilities are for what the new Star Trek movie could sound like or could have in it or could be.”— Composer Jeff Russo
However Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the most recent Star Trek movies, says future Star Trek movies are not happening now. Pegg says…
“The fact is, Star Trek movies don’t make Marvel money. They make maybe $500 million at the most, and to make one now, on the scale they’ve set themselves, is $200 million. You have to make three times that to make a profit.“
It sounds like the problems are even more than money. Pegg doesn’t think there’s a clear direction and that they’ve lost momentum. He continues…
“And we’ve lost momentum. I think losing Anton [Yelchin] was a huge blow to our little family, and our enthusiasm to do another one might have been affected by that. So I don’t know.“
Even if they did make another, it doesn’t sound like he’s confident Paramount and Viacom would give it the support it needs. He has a lot of regrets about how they handled the last movie, Star Trek: Beyond…
“I don’t feel like the last one… They didn’t really take advantage of the 50th anniversary. The regimen at the time dropped the ball on the promo of the film.“
The official word from Paramount and ViacomCBS is that another Star Trek movie is happening, but Pegg’s statements are just the latest in a string of statements from him and others which make it seem like that, despite the official press release, the next Star Trek movie may be dead.
What follows is our report on where Star Trek 4 is supposed to be at.
How Much More Star Trek Are We Supposed To Be Getting?
ViacomCBS owns Star Trek and during their 2019 earnings call in February of 2020, ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish revealed how much more new Star Trek is supposed to be in the works. He told investors that one more Star Trek movie and two more new Star Trek shows are currently on the way. Bakish said they intend to “take the Star Trek franchise and extend it across the house.”
The two new television series are in addition to Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Section 31, and the animated Star Trek: Lower Decks. That means at some point we’ll have six Star Trek shows in existence all at once. We don’t know what those two shows will be, at least not yet.
As for the movie, that’s Star Trek 4 and while that announcement should mean it is now totally confirmed that its moving forward, there’s still a lot of doubt.
In addition to the movie and TV shows, Bakish also confirmed they’re working on a new line of tie-in Star Trek novels and comic books, which readers can look forward to.
The Man In Charge Of Star Trek 4
After many stops and starts, it seems the studio has settled on Noah Hawley as director for the next Star Trek movie. Hawley has earned a name in the industry for his work on the television series Fargo and Legion, where he’s known for great character development.
Most recently Hawley directed his first film: Lucy in the Sky. This story about a NASA astronaut returning to life on Earth was a total flop at the box office, earning only $54,058 in total. No on3 saw it. Worse, the movie was reviled by critics. It currently has a dismal 22% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite this, Paramount is moving forward with Noah Hawley as both writer and director for the newest Star Trek movie.
The Plot Of Star Trek 4
At this point we aren’t entirely sure what Star Trek 4 will be. Since Chris Pine has officially signed on most assumed that meant Star Trek 4 will follow the Kelvin Timeline. This timeline takes place in a parallel universe where the Romulan Nero destroyed a Federation starship in 2233. The destroyed starship was called the U.S.S Kelvin, hence the name of the timeline. The events of this timeline in the current Star Trek movie series differ greatly from the events of the “Prime” universe seen in the first run of Trek films.
But… director Noah Hawley may have other ideas. This rumor claims there’s a battle raging between Paramount and Hawley. Reportedly Hawley doesn’t want to bring any of the previous cast back and wants to develop an entirely new story with an entirely new vision all his own. Meanwhile the studio wants the original actors to return and isn’t interested in having Star Trek devolve into reboot churn.
When Noah Hawley was asked directly by the press if Chris Pine and the rest of the Kelvin timeline cast were going to be in his Star Trek movie he had this to say: “I have my own take on Star Trek… Star Trek is about exploration and humanity at its best, and diversity and creative problem solving. For me, it’s about getting to those elements of the show. I don’t necessarily find action in and of itself interesting, unless it’s story. So, it’s early days, I’m still talking with Paramount, and I have a take and I’ve got to write a script.”
His answer is vague but it sounds like he’s not married to the idea of bringing back the same cast. It does almost sounds like he’s planning to reboot the entire franchise and remake it in his own image.
Adding fuel to the Noah Hawley reboot fire are comments from actor Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the Kelvin timeline films. When asked about Noah Hawley’s Star Trek movie he had this to say: “I don’t know anything about it. Noah Hawley’s been hired to write something for Star Trek, which is very exciting. He’s a brilliant writer and always creates interesting stuff. Whether or not we’re involved in that, I don’t know. I don’t think so. I don’t think that Noah’s thing is necessarily going to be Star Trek 4. I’m talking out of my ass, as usual. But we’ll see what happens with that.”
Odds are that Pegg simply isn’t in the loop with what’s happening to Star Trek, but it could also be that Hawley is working on a Star Trek film totally unrelated to the most recent series of movies or some kind of total reboot.
That leaves everything a bit up in the air. It doesn’t sound like anyone really knows what’s happening here. All we do know is that we’re getting another Star Trek movie of some sort.
There were initially reports that the plot of Star Trek 4 would have Chris Pine travel through time to visit with his father. In the beginning of the first movie, Captain Kirk’s father was briefly played by Chris Hemsworth in the opening scene. In 2018, it was reported that both Pine and Hemsworth had been in failed negotiations for the fourth film.
While Pine has since signed on, it seems Hemsworth will not be in the movie. The Hollywood Reporter pinned this on a lowball financial offer for Hemsworth, but the actor himself said, “I didn’t feel like we landed on a reason to revisit that yet. I didn’t want to be underwhelmed by what I was going to bring to the table.”
With Hemsworth out, it has left us with no other clues as to what the plot of Star Trek 4 may hold for us.
Chris Pine has officially signed on, though the project was briefly delayed when negotiations for his contract had become rocky. After he was signed, Star Trek 4 seemed to slip back into development hell and now no one seems to know where the project is at.
With Star Trek 4 back in semi-limbo, it’s possible that Chris Pine, who is a pretty in-demand actor at this point, may simply move on. That possibility just got a lot now that word is Marvel is interested in him.
Being the leader of a Star Trek franchise is a pretty great gig for an actor, but one of the few better gigs is getting to be a Marvel superhero. And now word is that Chris Pine is in contention to play a Marvel comic book shero called Doctor Spectrum. Think of Spectrum as sort of the Marvel universe’s answer to Green Lantern, a character which Pine was also once in contention for.
If Pine takes this part and if Star Trek 4 continues to languish in development hell, it could be that by the time Star Trek 4 gets around to being made he won’t be available anymore. Contract or not, he’s not going to sit around waiting forever.
If Chris Pine comes back and if this movie gets made, it’s expected we’ll see Zachary Quinto reprising his role as Spock, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Karl Urban as Bones, Simon Pegg as Scotty, and John Cho as Hikaru Sulu. However, there’s been no word on whether any of them are signed yet and indeed Simon Pegg has been clear that he is NOT signed.
Sadly Anton Yelchin, who played Ensign Pavel Chekov, died in an unusual accident in 2016. Chekov, the Enterprise’s Russian navigator, was an important member of the crew. JJ Abrams, who serves as producer, has publicly vowed that they will not be recasting the role of Chekov. We’ll have to see how this is handled in the script, but you can count on his character being absent.
Other Star Trek Actors From The Past
Leonard Nimoy played a pivotal role in the 2009 Star Trek. For a time afterward there were rumblings that William Shatner might be involved in the new franchise at some point (maybe even in Star Trek 4), including some comments from Shatner himself about wanting to be part of it. Now though, that has all been put to rest. It’s been put to rest by Shatner himself.
William Shatner posted the following tweet when asked if he’d ever do any more Star Trek…
Shatner is 88-years-old at this point and in recent years has slowly been slipping out of the public eye. He hasn’t done much acting since the year 2016 (though he did film a small part in a low-budget horror movie in 2019) and seems like he has settled in to full on retirement. Godspeed Captain.
Boldly Going Into Production
We’ve moved past worries that Chris Pine may not be available to join the Star Trek 4 cast and he is signed on. Whether the movie will actually use him remains to be seen. Noah Hawley has been confirmed as the movie’s writer/director, though he says he hasn’t written the script yet. We are making progress in the realm of production, and yet there is still little news on when filming will begin or any other major milestones that could indicate a release date for the movie.
This is surprising, since the film was originally greenlit in 2016, but the many changes along the way for Star Trek 4 have caused delays in getting things moving. With a director and stars on board, we will hopefully hear more news about filming soon.
When Will Star Trek 4 Be Released?
It’s hard to say when we’ll see Star Trek 4 hitting the big screen. There hasn’t yet been any official word on the movie’s production schedule, let alone actual release dates.
While a 2021 release date is possible, Paramount Pictures (Star Trek 4’s home) has Indiana Jones 5 and Mission Impossible 7 releasing that summer. Most likely, we’re looking at a summer 2022 release date.
Spock’s Spinoff Movie
Star Trek 4 has been on again and off again so many times that Paramount may be getting tired of waiting for the production to sort itself out. Word is that instead of doing a sequel with the full cast, they may instead simply make a spinoff movie focused entirely on Spock.
This rumor originated with this source who have recently scored some other confirmed scoops. So there may be something to it. They say the movie would see Zachary Quinto return as Spock and would include Zoe Saldana as Uhura, but no one else from the current Trek cast. Saldana’s inclusion as Uhura makes sense in context of the Kelvin-verse Trek, since in this alternate universe Uhura is somehow Spock’s love interest.
The plot of the Star Trek: Spock film would be a time travel story in which Spock goes back to try and save his mother during the destruction of Vulcan at the hands of the 2009 Star Trek’s script writers.
Star Trek: Picard And Other Sequels
While waiting for more news on Star Trek 4, there are other Star Trek projects in the works.
One of the most talked about projects is Star Trek: Picard, which will see the return of Patrick Stewart in his beloved role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard some 30 years after Star Trek: The Next Generation. The new web-television series will premiere on CBS All Access on January 23, 2020. There are ten episodes planned for the much-anticipated series.
Stewart last played this character in Star Trek: Nemesis, which was the final Star Trek story to push forward into the future of the Star Trek universe. The new series holds a lot of creative possibility for the series, which combined with the popularity of Picard’s character, has built a lot of understandable hype.
Mike McMahan, the writer for Rick and Morty, has been working on a new animated series titled Star Trek: Lower Decks. This will also be a CBS All Access series with ten expected episodes we’ll see in 2020.
Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek
At one point Quentin Tarantino was going to direct a Star Trek film. Stories about this possibility have been circulating since 2017. Director Quentin Tarantino had a developed story idea for a film. Mark L. Smith, who famously wrote The Revenant, wrote a script for him that Paramount reportedly loves. Both Tarantino and the studio have confirmed it would be rated R if it ever happened.
Recently though, Tarantino has started moving away from Star Trek. When asked by Cinema Blend if Trek was still in his future Tarantino had this to say…
“I think I’m steering away from Star Trek, but I haven’t had an official conversation with those guys yet.”– -Quentin Tarantino on directing Star Trek
More recently Tarantino got a little more adamant about the idea that he won’t direct the Star Trek movie Paramount had written for him. He says…
“I think they might make that movie, but I just don’t think I’m going to direct it. It’s a good idea. They should definitely do it and I’ll be happy to come in and give them some notes on the first rough cut.”– -Tarantino on directing Star Trek 4
It sounds like Tarantino is out but other sources seem to indicate he’s still at least considering it. When asked about Tarantino’s movie, Simon Pegg who plays Scotty, had this to say:
“As far as I know, Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek idea is still kind of in the mix. That’s down to [him] about what he wants to do next, you know. There’s been talk of various spinoffs possibly. We’ll see. I’m always happy to get back into that universe. I think it’ll be bittersweet for us now to do another one after losing Anton [Yelchin], just because we were very much a family. And we’ll miss him more than we normally do, because he will be conspicuous by his absence. But we’ll see what happens.”– -Simon Pegg on Tarantino directing Star Trek
We’ll have to wait and see, but we know Star Trek 4 won’t be that Tarantino movie and will be something else entirely. And it sounds like even if Tarantino’s Star Trek movie idea gets made, he won’t be involved in making it.
While Star Trek has most famously been represented through television series, it’s always been a franchise of experimentation with movies and other formats. These future projects and Star Trek 4 represent a diverse direction for the science fiction franchise. Stay with us here as we track how they’re handled and what new Star Trek projects will spring up in the future.
Paying Tribute To The Crew Of The Past
Say what you want about the new Star Trek movies, but they’ve done a good job of at least paying tribute to the actors who played the characters in the past. We can do no less.
Leonard Nimoy was a pivotal part of the cast of the first movie. Now he’s gone, but not forgotten.
2020 marks 5-years since the death of Leonard Nimoy. On the anniversary of his passing William Shatner paid tribute to his friend this way…
I have been, and always shall be your friend. Live long and prosper.