The final frontier just lost two of its brightest stars.
With the Star Trek franchise rejuvenated by the first season of Star Trek: Discovery and the proposed return of Sir Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in an all-new Star Trek series, the franchise appears to be back to its best following a torrid few years.
As part of the deal to bring Star Trek: Discovery to Netflix here in the UK, almost every other Star Trek series found a new home on the streaming service’s platform which has prompted many of us to binge watch more episodes of The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager than ever before.
In short, Star Trek is back in a big way.
Despite JJ Abrams’ “Kelvin” motion picture saga proving to be the most divisive the franchise has ever seen; the movies have gone on to enjoy an incredible return at the worldwide box office. The latest addition to the series, Star Trek: Beyond was a triumph and restored the space exploration format featured throughout the franchises illustrious history. And yet, it was the least successful movie in the series.
However, despite the unexpected underperformance of Beyond, news of a long-awaited sequel is moving closer to fruition now that S.J. Clarkson (The Defenders) has been assigned to direct. But some unsettling news emerging from Paramount Pictures is casting a shadow of doubt over the project. THR has reported the unsettling news that series stalwart Chris Pine (Captain James T. Kirk) and Marvel icon Chris Hemsworth (George Kirk) have both departed the project due to financial reasons. It has been long reported that returning cast members like Pine and Hemsworth have a standing contract with the studio but considering the lacklustre performance of Beyond, the powers that be are eager to enforce a series of pay-cuts and are reneging on their obligations.
Sadly, this disagreement has prompted Pine, Hemsworth, Skydance Media and Paramount Pictures to walk away from negotiations altogether. The actors have cited their pre-existing deals which they expect to be honoured but the studio is refusing to play ball, this despite Star Trek 4 being viewed as a priority feature according to studio sources.
So, where does that leave Star Trek 4? Paramount Pictures has a few avenues to pursue with the most obvious being to swallow their pride, fulfil their contracts and pay Pine and Hemsworth their agreed salaries. The alternative would be to write both characters out of the story altogether, which is a seemingly impossible task with Pine cast as the Captain of the Enterprise or to just recast both characters. The latter would almost certainly earn a hostile backlash from the Trekkie fanbase who have finally accepted Pine as James T. Kirk and would not welcome a fresh actor in the role. What’s worse, the remaining members of the cast like Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, and John Cho, were all expected to follow suit and enter contract negotiations after Pine and Hemsworth.
Details on Star Trek 4 are scarce, but it was expected that Chris Hemsworth was to reprise the role of George Kirk, the man who sacrificed his life so that his wife and son could escape from Eric Bana’s Nero in Star Trek. This would lead to James T. Kirk encountering his long-lost father by some strange quirk of fate.
Whether or not these contractual issues can be rectified remains to be seen. CBS/Paramount Pictures has been the custodian of the Gene Roddenberry’s legacy for well over three decades and have demonstrated time and time again their ability to produce outstanding content and are expected to return to the table with an improved offer. Whether or not it will be good enough to appease both Pine and Hemsworth remains to be seen.
Until then, the future of the Kelvin universe remains in doubt.
Would you like to see Kirk recast? Or should the studio honour their contract and restore Pine to the Captain’s chair? Get in touch and share your thoughts.
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Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force and babbles frequently!