Star Trek 4, the next installment in the Star Trek universe created by JJ Abrams, has been on hold for several years at this point. Every once in a while, rumors start flying about the movie going into development again. However, no concrete progress has been made since 2016.
At this point, there have been so many rumors about what might happen with Star Trek 4 that it’s hard to keep track of what’s actually going on with the movie. To make it a little easier to digest, here’s a timeline of what’s happened with the movie and what’s happening now.
2009-2016: The Success of the Previous Abrams Movies
In 2009, Abrams created a brand new Star Trek universe. Though Star Trek used familiar, beloved characters, the storyline branched off from the TV show by creating an alternate timeline, now known to fans as the Kelvin timeline.
Though Trek fans were wary of the reboot, Star Trek was an overall success. The Washington Post did a meta-analysis of all the Star Trek movies — except Star Trek: Beyond, which hadn’t been released yet — based on fan ratings and Box Office numbers. The publication found that Abrams’ Star Trek was one of the most financially successful of all the Star Trek movies and that it was given the most favorable ratings by Trek fans.
The success led to two more movies, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Star Trek: Beyond. Into Darkness was well-liked by fans and grossed even more than its predecessor. However, Beyond was not a hit at the Box Office or with fans, Forbes reported.
2016: Abrams Announces ‘Star Trek 4’
Right before Beyond released, Abrams announced that the next movie was already in the works, ScreenRant reported. He teased that the movie would feature a father-son storyline, with Chris Pine’s Kirk meeting his father, played by Chris Hemsworth. The plot was particularly interesting to Star Trek fans because Kirk’s father had died in Abrams’ first movie. So, bringing him back to life would assumably involve some very interesting space-time mechanics.
J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, who had both worked on the script for Beyond were set to create the story for the new film.
2017: The Stars Said They Were in the Dark
During an interview with MTV at CinemaCon 2017, Pine was asked about Star Trek 4. He said if something was happening with it, he’d be the last to know. Pine went on to say that he’d be excited to reprise the role and work with the cast again. However, he made it clear he didn’t know where the project was at.
Just a couple of weeks later, Zachary Quinto appeared on the Today Show to promote another movie he was working on, Aardvark. He told the anchors that he’d heard they were working on a script for Star Trek 4. Quinto continued, saying that though he was “hopeful” there would be another movie there were “no guarantees.”
2018: ‘Star Trek 4’ had a Script and a Director
In June 2018, Zachary Quinto appeared on the Happy Sad Confused podcast with Josh Horowitz. When asked about the future of the Star Trek franchise, he confirmed that there was movement. He said he’d met with the person who’d been tapped to direct, S.J. Clark, but that he hadn’t read a script yet.
When Horowitz asked him to confirm which movie he was talking about, Quinto made it clear that he was talking about Star Trek 4 by confirming that the story would involve Hemsworth’s character as teased.
Quinto went on to say that he was excited to move forward with the movie because he wanted to explore the character of Spock further and work with the cast again.
When Horowitz asked about the Tarantino movie, Quinto was vague. He replied that the project had been pitched to the actors as involving the same cast as the Beyond follow-up. However, he made it clear that deals for the movie had not been signed and said that without that, nothing was for sure.
Around the same time, Simon Pegg, who starred in and co-wrote Beyond, spoke to Fanáticos del Cine to promote his new Mission Impossible movie. When the publication asked about Star Trek, Pegg confirmed that Star Trek 4 had both a script and a director already.
He also clarified that the Tarantino project was completely separate from Star Trek 4, though it was supposed to involve the same cast. Pegg stated that he thought Tarantino’s project was several years away from hitting screens.
2018: Negotiations with Cast Members Fall Through
In August of 2018, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that contract negotiations with Pine and Hemsworth for Star Trek 4 had fallen through. The publication wrote that the two headlining stars weren’t pleased with the salaries the studio offered them to reprise their roles. According to their sources, the studio was trying to convince both actors to take salary cuts after Beyond performed poorly.
Later that month, Karl Urban, who played Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the Kelvin timeline films, appeared at a Trek convention and said he was confident things would soon be on track for Star Trek 4. TrekMovie.com reported that Urban said all the actors involved in the movies really wanted to move forward with the next installment. He went on to say that the studio needed to be willing to make a deal and that he was “confident” it would happen.
In September 2018, Pine told Variety that he would love to come back as Captain Kirk and that he was waiting “for the phone call.”
However, after the contract negotiations trouble, production on Star Trek 4 stalled out.
2019: ‘Star Trek 4’ was Canceled then Uncanceled
In January of 2019, Deadline casually dropped that Star Trek 4 had been “shelved.” The detail was a minor mention in an article about how Clark, the director who’d been tapped for the movie, was moving on to other projects. Paramount didn’t officially confirm the cancellation. However, the studio remained quiet about the film for most of 2019.
In May of 2019, Hemsworth had told Variety that salary disputes weren’t the only reason he’d decided not to return for Star Trek 4. He revealed that he didn’t like the script and he didn’t want to return to the role if he wasn’t excited.
In November 2019, Variety reported that a brand new writer and director, Noah Hawley, had been brought onto the project. The publication also reported that all the core cast members from the previous movies were expected to return for Hawley’s movie. Additionally, they revealed that the plot would be different from a previous version of the script that had been floating around.
The script change may have been an attempt to lure Hemsworth back to the table. Or perhaps the script changed because Hawley wanted to make it his own. Either way, Variety indicated that the movie was moving forward with a different story. The publication also made it clear that the movie Hawley had been tapped to work on was totally separate from Tarantino’s movie, which was still in development.
To complicate things even further, rumors started circulating that Hawley’s script wasn’t actually Star Trek 4 but yet another Star Trek universe project. In an interview with Gold Derby, Pegg seemed to indicate that the Enterprise crew featured in Beyond would not be back for the movie that Hawley was developing.
So at the end of 2019, it looked like development on Star Trek 4 may have been canceled after all, with a new Star Trek movie taking its place.
2020: Hawley Went in a Different Direction
In January 2020, Hawley told Deadline his movie may not feature the same cast as the previous Abrams movies. He told the publication that he envisioned his movie with a new cast but said that it was early on in the process. He admitted that they didn’t have it all figured out yet, especially whether or not any of the actors from Beyond would return. He also confirmed that his film project wouldn’t be connected to Alex Kurtzman’s projects Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Discovery.
Hawley indicated that he wanted to get back to what he loved about Star Trek while still being respectful of all the material that came before.
2020: ‘Star Trek’ Placed On Hold
In the summer of 2020, a higher-up at Paramount told Deadline that her top priority would be to figure out where the Star Trek movies were headed. The publication indicated that Hawley’s movie might have been put on hold because the storyline involved a pandemic, which was deemed too dicey a subject given the state of the world.
By the fall, it seemed like a decision had been made. In September of 2020, Hawley told Variety that his Star Trek project had been put on hold for a while. He insisted that the project hadn’t been killed, but admitted that he didn’t know when it would be moving forward.
Just a month later, Hawley told Deadline that it didn’t look like Paramount was planning to move forward with his Star Trek project in the near future. He said that the studio seemed to be headed in a “different direction” with the Star Trek franchise.
An interview Pine did with ComicBook.com in December 2020 furthered speculation that Star Trek 4 was done for good. Pine said he hadn’t seen a script for the Tarantino movie or the Hawley movie.
To drive the point home, he stated, ” I have no idea what’s happening in Star Trek land. ”
However, he did say he’d love to work with Tarantino and portray Kirk again.
2021: Are Any of the ‘Star Trek’ Movies Happening?
Though Hawley’s movie is still on hold and Tarantino’s movie is still in limbo, neither project has been outright canceled as of right now. However, the focus for the Star Trek universe seems to be on the television properties for right now.