Don’t be expecting a new Star Trek movie anytime soon. Just as it appeared as though the franchise was gaining new momentum on the big screen with a fresh take by Fargo and Legion showrunner Noah Hawley, now word comes that Paramount Pictures is re-assessing Trek on the big screen and putting Hawley’s project on the backburner.
Hawley signed on to write and direct a new Star Trek movie in November 2019, with a take that was teased as a “new beginning” that likely would not include the cast from the last three Trek movies that hit the big screen. But THR now reports that Paramount’s newly installed motion picture group president Emma Watts (who formerly was at Fox) is taking another look at the slate, and as a result Hawley’s Star Trek movie is being put on hold for the time-being.
One factor that could be holding Hawley’s film back is a plot that centers around a virus that wipes out vast parts of the known universe. Which, given the current worldwide pandemic situation we’re currently in, doesn’t really feel like the kind of thing a big studio wants to put a blockbuster budget into right now for fear that audiences will be turned off.
There are currently three different Star Trek movies in development. Hawley’s film, a sequel to Star Trek Beyond, and a separate original take based on an idea by Quentin Tarantino. Paramount has thus far struggled to make the Star Trek franchise as big as they want it to be on the big screen. J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot was critically well-received and audiences adored it to the tune of $385 million. But the sequels Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond each made less than their predecessor, as Paramount watched other major franchises like Star Wars, Marvel, and DC frequently soar to worldwide grosses over $500 million.
As recently as a couple years ago, a Star Trek 4 was in the works that would have involved time travel and found Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk interacting with his father James Kirk, with Chris Hemsworth reprising his role. S.J. Clarkson (Jessica Jones) was onboard to direct, but contractual disputes led to Hemsworth falling out, and Paramount then became enamored of Tarantino’s idea and then Hawley’s.
So what’s next? We don’t know. Tarantino dropped out of directing his version as he didn’t want to make it his final film, but could still be involved as a producer should Paramount want to move forward with his idea.
In the meantime, Trek is moving full-speed ahead on the small screen and I’d be surprised if Hawley waited around for Paramount to make its decision. He’s a pretty in-demand storytelling on the big and small screen, and other studios may come calling now that news is out about his Trek movie going on ice.