Star Trek 4: What’s Happening With The Movie Franchise Now

By Liana Keane

Enterprise A in Star Trek 4

After many false stops and starts, and even rumors the project had been cancelled, it seemed like things were moving forward for Star Trek 4. But now we’ve heard from our sources that Paramount has put the entire idea of making more Star Trek movies on pause, focusing instead on simply making Star Trek for television.

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. Fans want Star Trek 4 hit the big screen, but with things being shook up at Paramount, it’s not clear when that will happen. 

Before hitting pause on their future Star Trek 4 plans, Paramount Pictures had three totally different Star Trek movies in development, each with the potential to become the next Star Trek movie. The first was an actual Star Trek 4, which would star Chris Pine and the cast of the current Star Trek movie universe. The second is the one they announced that director Noah Hawley was working on. The third is the idea Quentin Tarantino came up with for Star Trek and it’s currently being written by Mark L. Smith (who wrote The Revenant). Originally only one of these potential next Star Trek movies was actually going to move forward.

So if Paramount gets back to making Trek movies, which movie concept will end up being Star Trek 4? Here’s everything we know about the next Star Trek movie so far.

Possibility #1: A Star Trek 4 From The Man Who Made Wrath Of Khan

Star Trek 4

There’s little question that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is one of the best things Star Trek has ever produced. Now one of that movie’s producers is working on a pitch for another Star Trek movie, a movie which could end up being Star Trek 4.

The man in question is Wrath of Khan producer Robert Sallin and he tells Den of Geek that he’s in talks with Paramount now about his project. Sallin explains: “I don’t have it completely written, but I have a lot of it written. I have a concept for another Star Trek feature that I’ve had discussions with Paramount about – at least on the phone. This one I guarantee you is unlike anything that has been done in Star Trek, and it will be part of the canon, but they (the studio) don’t want to talk about it until they see what Noah Hawley does.

Noah Hawley is the man originally hired by Paramount to make the next Star Trek, but we’re starting to hear rumors that they aren’t happy with what he’s doing. His project seems like it’s turning into a big mess (more on that elsewhere in this article). So if Hawley continues to fail at getting his Star Trek movie going, it sounds like Paramount may be ready to turn Star Trek 4 over to Sallin.

Robert Sallin is adamant that his idea is completely unique. He reiterates: “Unless I am completely off base here, it is completely different. Nothing has been done like this and I think it will become part of the canon. That’s all. I hope one day to be able to have the meeting and have them say, ‘Hey, Bob, come on in, let’s talk about that.’

It’s probably worth noting that since Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Robert Sallin hasn’t actually done a lot. He was heavily involved in making Wrath of Khan what it was (though not as critical as director Nicolas Meyer), but it’s not like he’s gone on to great things or has the kind of reputation that would inspire Paramount to put any confidence in him.

Still, Sallin claims they’re taking him seriously and as someone who has been pretty in touch with the fan community and up front with them over the years, I’m inclined to believe him if he says he’s talking to the studio about Star Trek 4.

Possibility #2: Noah Hawley’s Star Trek Movie

Star Trek 4

Paramount has hired writer/director Noah Hawley to develop a Star Trek movie for them. Word is that his movie will ditch all previous Trek casts and involve an original concept about trying to find a cure for a disease.

Possibility #3: Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek Movie


Famed filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has developed an idea for a Star Trek movie and Paramount has had that idea turned into a script. It could well end up being the next Star Trek movie and we know what it’s about.

So Are We Getting A Sequel To Star Trek Beyond?

Star Trek 4 done

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 a sequel to Beyond is ever coming or even what that movie would be.

The most recent update on Star Trek 4 comes from Zachary Quinto, who played Spock in the previous three Star Trek movies. When asked about it he had this to say to “It’s already thriving in the television format with Discovery and Picard and the spinoffs… I can’t even keep track of how many new Star Trek stories are being told since our last film in 2016. All I know is that we, all of us, had an incredible experience making those films. If there is an appetite for more of those stories with us in them, I’m sure that we would all be thrilled to come back and do one more or whatever, but I’m not really attached to it anymore.”

That doesn’t sound too bad until he goes further and says: “I stepped away from any expectation or any real certainty that it’s ever going to happen again… I think that’s the only real way to move through the world, right? If it happens, that’d be great, but I’m not going to sit around waiting for it to happen. I have a ton of other stuff in my life, in my career. I have lifelong friendships from those films and working relationships and a lot of respect and fond memories, so if that’s what it ends up being and I can look back on my life and say that’s what it was, then that’s incredible, and if we get to do more, that’s also incredible. But as far as the stories go, they’ve been around for decades and generations, and I think that that will continue, whether or not we continue on with them.”

That does not sound like the words of an actor who thinks he’ll be in Star Trek 4. The official word on the movie is still that it’s going forward (though unofficially our sources say otherwise), but none of the actors who should be involved seem to know anything about it, if it is.

For example, in a past update on the status of Star Trek 4 Simon Pegg, who played Scotty in the previous three Star Trek movies had this to say about it to Collider : “One thing I did mention when I spoke about it recently is that for us, losing Anton Yelchin the way we did was a real blow. And I think it slightly took the wind out of our sails in terms of our enthusiasm to do another one, just because we’re now missing one of our family. He would be conspicuous by his absence.”

Forget whether the studio wants Star Trek 4 to move forward . It sounds like the cast isn’t even really sure if they want to.

Pegg continues, “We’re all still in contact, we were emailing with each other the other day, just checking in, ‘how are we,’ and stuff. But it’s not like any of us have been banging on the door at Paramount saying, ‘Hey, when are we doing this?’ If they say, ‘We’d like to do another movie,’ I’m sure we’ll all jump at the chance. I miss those guys, and I love making those films. But I just don’t know. Noah Hawley’s project has been mentioned, and maybe that will happen. I don’t know anything about that. So yeah, I’m as in the dark as everyone else, I’m in the same boat as you guys.”

The good news here is that at least Simon Pegg has moved his stance on Star Trek 4 to “maybe that will happen” In the past Pegg has been more adamant that future Star Trek movies are not happening. In a previous interview Pegg said, “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.

And at the time he made it sound like the problems was 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 didn’t sound like Pegg was 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 saying, “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.

Simon Pegg Is Reportedly Holding Out

Simon Pegg has been at the forefront of making negative comments about the future of Star Trek, so it should be no surprise to learn that he may also now be refusing to return. Or at least that’s the news from WGTC where they say Pegg is now holding out and will only come back for Star Trek 4 if his demands are met.

Exactly what those demands are is a little murky. It seems he wants, for starters, a much bigger role. That’s always going to be tough to do since he’s playing Scotty and Scotty, while an important Trek character is basically fourth in importance to the franchise behind Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. He’s not part of the holy trinity.

His other demands may also include a bigger paycheck and maybe creative input into what Star Trek 4 will be. Giving Pegg more creative input should probably be viewed by most Trek fans as a net positive. He had a lot to do with why Star Trek: Beyond was the best and perhaps most Star Trek of all the Kelvinverse movies.

Giving Scotty a bigger role though, that’s going to be a difficult demand to meet. Especially when Paramount isn’t even sure they still want to make Star Trek 4.

How Much More Star Trek Were 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 was 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 Plot Of Star Trek 4

At this point we aren’t entirely sure what Star Trek 4 would be if Paramount unpauses their efforts. Since Chris Pine has officially signed on most assumed that meant if they go forward with him as the star then 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. 

Of all the people currently involved in the world of Star Trek, writer and actor Simon Pegg seems to understand Star Trek best. When asked what he thinks the next Star Trek movie should be by Collider, Pegg says that he thinks they’ve been trying to be big spectacle movies like Marvel, but that’s not what he sees it as. Pegg explains, “I think Star Trek is just a little bit more niche, so it isn’t gonna hit those kinds of numbers. So yes, the obvious thing to do would be to not go for that massive spectacle, go for something a little bit more restrained in the vein of the original series”

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.

Chris Hemsworth for Star Trek 4
Chris Hemsworth as George Kirk in Star Trek

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. 

Returning Crew

Star Trek 4 captain

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. Zachary Quinto has also been adamant that he’s heard nothing about Star Trek 4 and is not signed on to the movie.

Star Trek Beyond cast
Anton Yelchin as Chekov, Chris Pine as Kirk and John Cho as Sulu

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. 

Brie Larson Wanted For Star Trek 4

Brie Larson

Everything seems to be on the table for Star Trek 4 and Paramount is heavily evaluating their options. Rumor has it that one of the big things they’re considering is bringing in Brie Larson.

Or at least that’s the somewhat shaky rumor coming from this source. They claim Paramount wants a big, big star involved in the franchise and at the top of their wish list is Brie Larson.

So why bring in Brie Larson? Simple: Women. Star Trek has never been as popular with women as men, and bringing in Brie Larson would guarantee a new female audience. It would also guarantee that Trek would take a more feminist turn, since Brie at this point in her career has all but announced that she won’t do anything which isn’t geared towards feminism. Of course, Star Trek has always been about equality, but bringing in Brie Larson is a sure sign they want to push that equality even further and make the franchise less male.

For now Brie being courted for Star Trek 4 is just a rumor. Contextualize it as such.

Other New Additions To The Crew

Number One

Word is that for some unknown reason Star Trek 4 writer/director Noah Hawley wants to resurrect the classic character of Number One for his new movie. And reportedly he’s targeting Jennifer Lawrence to play her.

How exactly she’d fit in is a total mystery. Number One was Captain Pike’s first officer when he was in charge of the Enterprise, and in this weird Kelvin universe that would have been years before James T. Kirk even joined Starfleet. That would mean Number One is quite a bit older than Kirk, but Jennifer Lawrence is definitely not older than Chris Pine. So casting Jennifer Lawrence as Number One really makes no sense at all.

Most recently Number One was played by Rebecca Romijn on Star Trek: Discovery. It’s worth noting that Discovery takes place in a time period much earlier than the one Star Trek 4 will be set in, and yet Rebecca Romijn is a lot older than Jennifer Lawrence.

Casting Jennifer Lawrence as Number One in Star Trek 4 really makes no sense at all. It would also be a little strange given that Jennifer Lawrence followed Rebecca Romijn in playing Mystique and now she’d be following Romijn in playing Number One.

Other Star Trek Actors From The Past

Captain Kirk for Star Trek 4

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.

When Will Star Trek 4 Be Released?

Spock and Bones for Star Trek 4

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. It seems likely it isn’t being made at all now.

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.