Star Trek 4 is dead, according to a new report. That contrasts what we had last heard back in August, with insiders then claiming the sequel to Star Trek Beyond — which was to be the first Trek entry with a female director in S.J. Clarkson (Jessica Jones, The Defenders) — was “a priority development” for Paramount Pictures, given Trek is one of its biggest franchises alongside Transformers and Mission: Impossible. But that’s clearly not the case any more.
Deadline brings word of the new development, positing that Clarkson’s new position as director and executive producer on the Game of Thrones prequel series is courtesy of Star Trek 4 ‘being shelved’, which made her available for the HBO project. It’s not entirely a surprise considering salary talks with the two biggest stars, Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth — who was to return as the father of Pine’s Captain Kirk from J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot — had broken down in August, with Paramount wanting them to take a pay cut in light of Beyond’s box office performance.
The reported cancellation of Star Trek 4 does somewhat throw the future of the Trek film universe into question. Thankfully, Trek 4 wasn’t the only Trek movie in development at Paramount Pictures, thanks to “a great idea” from director Quentin Tarantino that he brought to Abrams and was then turned into a screenplay using a writers’ room. Simon Pegg, who plays USS Enterprise chief engineer Scotty and co-wrote Star Trek Beyond, had said that Tarantino’s version wouldn’t happen for another 5-6 years due to Trek 4 and Tarantino’s schedule, but it could now potentially be brought forward. Of course, Paramount would have to get Pine to sign on the dotted line, since Pegg had said Tarantino “likes the new cast”.
Otherwise, it’s entirely possible that Paramount might just wait out a few years (again) and hit the reset button on the Trek film universe, sending it in a completely new direction. Paramount has released a total of 13 Star Trek movies since the first one in 1979, spawn from the success of the original 1966-69 TV series that started it all. And while Trek is struggling on the big screen, CBS is moving full steam ahead with Trek on TV. Star Trek: Discovery, which began as a prequel to the original series in September 2017, returns next week for season. Patrick Stewart is set to return as Jean Luc-Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation later this year in his own series, while an adult animated comedy series called Lower Decks is in development with Rick and Morty head writer Mike McMahan.