Here’s Why Star Trek 4 Suffered A Slow And Painful Death

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Star Trek‘s currently riding high. The second season of Discovery is now underway, fans are over the moon about the return of Picard in his own show, there are multiple animated series in production and, in a delicious cherry on top of it all, Quentin Tarantino’s currently developing his own mysterious take on the franchise. But within all that something’s gone very wrong.

I’m talking about Star Trek 4, of course, the third sequel to J.J. Abrams’ 2009 hit reboot which launched what’s been termed the Kelvinverse. The relaunch of the classic Enterprise crew was anchored by Chris Pine’s Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock, received rave reviews and found much box office success. Its sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, picked up slightly less favorable reviews but still took in roughly $470 million worldwide. But then things started to come unstuck.

2016’s Star Trek Beyond earned only $343 million globally on a $185 million budget. Still, Paramount announced Star Trek 4 and seemed enthusiastic about the project. Now, however, it looks like that sequel’s dead, and here’s why.

Prior to Beyond‘s failure, Paramount thought that the franchise was destined to go from success to success. Conscious that Quinto and Pine were the key performers and that their three-film contracts had expired, they decided to lock them down for further movies. During this process, they managed to secure sizable pay increases, with Pine reported to have successfully negotiated his salary up to $6 million. On top of that, the upcoming film would’ve seen the return of Chris Hemsworth as Kirk’s father George, with the father/son duo teaming up for a time traveling adventure.

But Hemsworth now comes with a price. After Beyond flopped, the studio realized that Star Trek 4 was a riskier bet than they’d anticipated. Conscious of having another flop, they decided they needed to save money, and where better than those pesky contracts signed prior to Beyond? Pine and Hemsworth were understandably miffed about being low-balled after already signing on the dotted line and while unhappy negotiations buzzed away in Paramount boardrooms for much of 2018, no agreement could be found.

So, quietly and covertly, the studio cancelled the project. There was no announcement, but when HBO told us that Star Trek 4‘s director, S.J. Clarkson, had signed up to helm their Game of Thrones prequel show, most fans read the writing on the wall. After any number of intergalactic catastrophes and disasters, in the end it was simply a few accountants who eventually killed the Kelvinverse, and what a shame that is.

About the author

David James

David James

London-based writer about everything and anything. Willing to crawl over rusty nails to write about Metal Gear Solid or Resident Evil.