You wouldn’t be out of the loop if you didn’t realize that there was another Star Trek movie after Star Trek Into Darkness. Released in 2016, Star Trek Beyond made back its reported budget, but only grossed a little over $343 million worldwide. That was nothing to sneer at ten years ago when the first film with the new Star Trek cast came out, as that film earned just a little more than Beyond. But as Scotty actor Simon Pegg pointed out to GamesRadar, it’s not anywhere near the massive piles of money Marvel and other superhero films are making.
To be fair, Star Trek has never been a major moneymaker on the level of a Marvel Studios; the first-ever film in the franchise, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, made just over $82 million domestically. TMP was supposed to be Paramount’s answer to the original Star Wars. While it relaunched the storied franchise, it certainly wasn’t the answer to Paramount’s quest for their own Star Wars. It may have paved the way for series of connected films which built their own lore, however, with callbacks to the second Trek film, The Wrath of Khan, appearing in Star Trek Into Darkness. Some may argue that Into Darkness was just a rip-off of the beloved Khan, however.
Star Trek Beyond got better reviews than Into Darkness, but a meager marketing effort in, of all things, the 50th anniversary year for the entire franchise, hindered it. Pegg spoke to that all the way back in 2018. Since 2018, multiple new Star Trek films with the cast led by Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto have been rumored, but none of them have really stuck. Noah Hawley of Fargo and Legion was the most recent name attached to the untitled Star Trek 4. Quentin Tarantino, who really needs no introduction, was attached to an R-rated Trek film since 2017; he exited the project in January 2020. Whether or not that R-rated take on Trek was going to focus on this cast was unclear. Hawley was announced shortly before Tarantino’s exit, in December 2019.
Hawley himself indicated that his Trek would feature an entirely new cast. Alex Kurtzman, who seems to be in charge of the recent CBS All Access Trek return to TV, said he had been in touch with Hawley. Kurtzman’s comments at the Television Critics Association winter press tour hinted at a desire to unite all the disparate Trek media under one umbrella at last. The recent CBS and Viacom merger makes that all the more possible.
Pegg’s frustrations seem fair; he’s been a fan ever since he saw Star Trek: The Animated Series when he was a kid. That he and the rest of the cast are likely getting booted after only three films has to be frustrating. Not only that, he co-wrote Beyond, and considering its warm critical and fan reception, it has to be additionally disappointing that the box office didn’t live up to our current standards.
Whatever does happen with the franchise’s film side next, the TV side is prospering. If indeed the two sides will be merging, it’ll be interesting to see what stories they decide to tell next…and with who.