J.J. Abrams sure is a master at shock and awe.
The producer, who helmed the “Star Trek” reboot in 2009 with a prequel film, announced during the Paramount Investor Day on February 15 that a fourth “Star Trek” film with the original cast will soon start production.
“We are thrilled to say that we are hard at work on a new ‘Star Trek’ film that will be shooting by the end of the year that will be featuring our original cast,” Abrams said. “We’re thrilled about this film, we have a bunch of other stories that we’re talking about that we think will be really exciting, so can’t wait for you to see what we’re cooking up. But until then, live long and prosper.”
The only issue? Per The Hollywood Reporter, representatives for stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldaña, and John Cho were “not aware that an announcement for another film was coming” featuring the aforementioned actors.
Pine reportedly is the first to enter early negotiations, with the fourth film centering around his Captain Kirk character.
“Star Trek 4” is eyeing a December 22, 2023, theatrical release, with “WandaVision” director Matt Shakman attached to the project. The script is still “being worked on,” according to THR, with no official greenlight or budget established. According to Digital Spy, the screenplay will be written by Josh Friedman and Cameron Squires, based on an earlier draft by Lindsey Beer and Geneva Robertson.
The initial plan for a fourth “Star Trek” installment was stalled in 2018 due to contract issues and budget disputes with Pine and Chris Hemsworth, who was slated to play Captain Kirk’s father. There were once three “Star Trek” follow-up features in development, including one by Quentin Tarantino that included time travel and “gangster” storylines.
Now, THR writes, “Industry insiders say that Paramount let go of negotiating leverage in order to have a key chess piece as it courts Wall Street investors,” so sky’s seemingly the limit for any “Star Trek” budgets. The third film, “Star Trek Beyond,” grossed only $343 million worldwide with a budget of $190 million, the lowest box office return out of the trilogy.
The “Star Trek” universe has been alive and well, thanks to CBS All Access series “Discovery” and “Picard,” plus adult animated series “Lower Decks” and Nickelodeon’s kid-oriented “Prodigy.”