We just got word that Star Trek 4 has been removed from Paramount’s release schedule, which was announced in the summer of 2016 before the release of its predecessor. That announcement failed to stoke much anticipation for another follow-up, considering the threequel underperformed with $158 million domestic and $338 million worldwide on a $180 million budget.
Could the cards be played for a sequel now that the main cast is brimming with even more star power (arguably) in today’s time? Possibly, but if we assess Paramount’s collapse with the Transformers franchise and the necessitation of rebooting it, Star Trek should ideally stand where it is and has been since the 3rd chapter over six years ago. It’s probably not going to occur, given how the main cast of Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Chris Hemsworth, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, and John Cho are wrapped up with other things and don’t seem particularly intrigued about another story. One conclusive proof is that in 2018, Pine and Hemsworth refused to take pay cuts. Ideas have been brainstormed (even by Quentin Tarantino), but none have come to fruition. In 2019-2020, Noah Hawley was in talks to direct the feature with most of the cast, but then Paramount put it on indefinite hold before canceling it in November 2020.
Oh, and Matt Shakman is no longer in the director role as he opted for the Fantastic Four MCU reboot. Start-and-stop pushes don’t exactly embellish the production stages or overall atmosphere.
Star Trek‘s momentum deflated between its first installment and the sequel due to the rise in big-budget superhero features (Marvel Cinematic Universe, Man of Steel), Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and Fast and Furious 5 & 6. Each of those brought new directions, more risk-taking, and more money. The sci-fi fantasy realm became too saturated for Star Trek’s tastes. When Star Wars 7 was released two years after Into Darkness to attain the highest-grossing domestic film title, Star Trek 3 would never achieve such standards.
What’s saddening is Into Darkness was toppled by Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, and Fast & Furious 6 in the summer of 2013. Beyond was another laundry-list summer blockbuster in 2016 when you had Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad, The Secret Life of Pets, and Independence Day: Resurgence swinging for the summer fences. For reference, a Star Trek 4 dropping in 2024 would collapse against Captain America 4, and dropping in 2025 would make it a tchotchke compared to Avengers 5.
So much has changed for better or worse in that the status of Star Trek needs to reboot itself entirely with new characters and storylines (on a smaller budget) or leave things as they should be. Audiences have lost much interest since its inception in 2009, when many features of that scale stood as events. Paramount can’t forge on with the main Transformers series since that busted storylines and coasted on flimsy Michael Bay action. Fortunately, they did create wonders this year with Top Gun: Maverick and showed that Sonic The Hedgehog can proceed with a third film and spinoff.
But in Star Trek‘s case, it ran its main course a long time ago.