Paramount announced this week that they were shelving the fourth installment in the latest Star Trek film franchise. Well, not so much “announced” as “buried the lead” on, given that it was casually dropped in a Deadline article about SJ Clarkson’s upcoming directorial turn on the pilot episode of the Game of Thrones prequel series. Clarkson, you see, was also in line to direct the newest Trek. This news comes after months of speculation following the departure of Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth over budgetary concerns. The film was reportedly to feature the return of Hemsworth as George Kirk in a time-travel story.
This is the second shelving of the Star Trek, following Paramount’s decision to do away with the film franchise after the disastrous Star Trek: Nemesis more than twenty years ago. That film, which starred not only the Next Generation cast, but also a very young Tom Hardy as a Picard clone, was the lowest earning Star Trek film ever.
The newest trilogy of films was a “soft reboot” of sorts, leaving some long-time Trek fans a little chapped that they would disregard more than 40 years of history at the time, in lieu of a more streamlined continuity. Whatever disappointments fans held with the first “new” Trek, they paled in comparison to the let-down of Into Darkness, the first sequel in the series. Touted by director JJ Abrams as not being a remake of The Wrath of Khan, the film was, in fact, a remake of The Wrath of Khan. It’s worst kept secret was a whitewashed Khan Noonian Singh, played with relish by Benedict Cumberbatch, and disguised as “John Harrison”. In an attempt to not be compared to The Search for Spock, Star Trek: Beyond dared to be different and take Trek into more philosophical territory than the two preceding films, which were criticized for being more action-oriented.
What did Star Trek 4 hold for us? We may never know. Or, if we do, we may have re-cast roles or even a reboot of the Next Generation film series. Time will tell. Hopefully the execs at Paramount won’t make us wait long, whatever is in store.