CBS’s Star Trek TV franchise is humming right along at Warp Speed: its animated series Lower Decks premiered yesterday, and after that season wraps up, the third season of Discovery will take over on CBS All Access.
But while the TV franchise is bustling, the film franchise remains in limbo. According to Deadline, Paramount has put Noah Hawley’s Star Trek 4 on “pause” while it works to figure out what to do with the franchise next.
The last Star Trek film to hit theaters, Star Trek Beyond, did so in 2016, and ever since, there’s been a handful of attempts to produce another one in the continuity that J.J. Abrams started back in 2009 with Star Trek.
The most recent attempt was to be helmed by Hawley, the writer behind FX’s Legion. That project surfaced in November 2019, and it was apparently going to be set within the Kelvin timeline (J.J. Abrams was set to produce), but earlier this year, Hawley hinted that he was most interested in bringing in new characters and stories:
“I’m excited there’s going to be another Matrix movie. I don’t need it to be the old Matrix movie. I’m excited to see characters used in new ways, or new characters, or whatever it is.”
Deadline says that Hawley’s film would have featured a new cast and would have been about a “deadly virus.”
Now, it looks like Paramount is doing some reevaluating. In July, Paramount brought in Emma Watts (formerly of 20th Century Fox) to head up its movie division, and in this latest report, Deadline says that her top priority will be to rebuild the science fiction franchise. Thus, Hawley’s take seems to have been put in a holding pattern while that happens.
Taking the time to figure it out might work well in Paramount’s favor, especially in a theatrical environment where overarching franchises are par for the course. There have been a handful of attempts at a new film: a sequel to Beyond seemed inevitable, but the death of Anton Yelchin and other factors seem to have blunted the enthusiasm for it — stars Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pine walking away over pay might have contributed as well . Paramount announced in 2018 that S. J. Clarkson would direct a new film, but she departed the project a year later to direct a prequel to Game of Thrones for HBO (which also didn’t happen — she’s now reportedly working on a Spider-man related film for Sony). in 2017, Quentin Tarantino had been working on a Star Trek film, but said last year that he was “steering away” from that.
Deadline notes that both Hawley and Tarantino’s projects aren’t dead, but suggests that they might serve as one-off projects that would be attempted down the road, rather than holding up an entire new series. The decision over their fates, Deadline says, will happen in the next couple of weeks. If they don’t survive, presumably Paramount will go back to the drawing board to figure out what new worlds the franchise will visit next — something the TV franchise has already been doing.