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Confirmed: Star Trek Sequel 2nd Unit To Shoot In Iceland May 19, 2012

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Star Trek Into Darkness , trackback

Last week we reported that principal photography production for the Star Trek sequel had wrapped, but it appears there is still some filming to do. TrekMovie has confirmed that the Star Trek sequel is headed to Iceland for some 2nd unit shooting. Exclusive details below.


Star Trek Sequel To Shoot In Iceland

News that the Star Trek sequel may be shooting in Iceland first came from the Frettabladid newspaper in Iceland (spotted by TrekMovie’s Hallbjörn Guðjónsson), but their report only noted it was "possible" and it came out shortly before the Star Trek sequel wrapped. At the time it couldn’t be verified so TrekMovie held off. After doing some more digging with sources, TrekMovie can now confirm that there will indeed be Star Trek filming in Iceland, however the shoot will be for the Star Trek sequel’s second unit.

The crew headed to the island nation in the North Atlantic will be filming solely for visual effects shots. The 2nd unit is headed up by visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett (of ILM). Director JJ Abrams may also go, but that is still being determined. As this is for VFX, none of the main Star Trek cast will be heading out to Iceland. Even though none of the main cast are going, filming in Iceland does fit in with the promise that the sequel will be "bigger" in scale than 2009’s Star Trek.

The Icelandic paper speculates that filming could be for the planet Vulcan, but they are probably not up on their Star Trek lore to know that the planet was imploded into a black hole in the 2009 movie. It is likely to assume that if the Star Trek crew are taking the trouble to travel all the way to Iceland, it is for some kind of interesting alien vista. Nestled up to the Arctic Circle, the small island of Iceland certainly offers opportunities for frozen landscapes, but there are also volcanic areas and even green plains.

Iceland offers many opportunities for alien locales for the Star Trek sequel

Some regular readers may remember that back in 2007 JJ Abrams had seriously considered shooting for two weeks in Iceland, however the plan was eventually scrapped. While it is 4,400 miles from Los Angeles, Iceland is growing in popularity for location shooting. As noted above, the "land of ice and fire" has stunning vistas and the government also offers significant incentives.  Just this year, three other productions have shot there: Ben Stiller’s Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Horizon starring Tom Cruise, and Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. And last year Ridley Scott shot alien planet locations in Iceland for Prometheus.

"Prometheus" cast in Iceland

And HBO’s Game of Thrones headed to Iceland for their second season to film scenes “north of the wall.” The below video is from the GoT Iceland location shooting.

In Production – Iceland

Historic trip for Star Trek

The Iceland trip marks the first time any Star Trek production has done any location shooting outside of the USA. The longest a Trek film crew has gone before was a trip to Alaska for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The second unit brought stunt actors (standing in for William Shatner, DeForest Kelley and Iman) to a glacier to shoot Kirk and McCoy’s escape on the Klingon prison planet Rura Penthe.

Alaskan glacier used in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country"

For those that are wondering, it is not uncommon to do some shooting on a film after what is considered the official "principal photography" production wrap. For example, JJ Abrams wrapped production on his first Star Trek film in late March, 2008. However, Trek’s 2nd unit filmed some shots for little Kirk’s Iowa Corvette chase in the Bakersfield area in early April.

2nd unit shooting for "Star Trek" corvette scene in April, 2008

Counting down – now less than a year away

As always, stay tuned to for all your Star Trek sequel news. The movie is now less than a year away, opening May 17, 2013. You may have noticed but a countdown clock has been added to the front page in the sidebar (scroll down). Here is another version of it…



1. Bob Tompkins - May 19, 2012

I have seen many documentaries on Iceland on various cable channels. It id the most exotic place on earth.

2. Montreal_Paul - May 19, 2012

Yay! We have the countdown!!!

3. Browncoat1984 - May 19, 2012

Also the HBO TV show Game of Thrones (based off of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels for those who don’t know) did some major shooting in Iceland, shooting the portions of the show that take place beyond The Wall there.

4. Captain Hackett - May 19, 2012

Perhaps Andoria?

5. Charla - May 19, 2012

Love the countdown clock~ :-D

6. Freddie - May 19, 2012

2013, you mean? :)

7. swh1939 - May 19, 2012

You mean 2013, not May 17, 2012.

8. Remington Steele - May 19, 2012

The movie came out TWO DAYS AGO??

Oh god, I missed the build up….and the premiere…quick to the movieplex!

9. Anthony Pascale - May 19, 2012

settle down, the 2012,2013 thing was fixed.

good note on GoF…added

10. dmduncan - May 19, 2012

The Denali filmed scenes of Alaska for TUC were awesome. Gonna be hard to top those.

11. C Miles - May 19, 2012

Yeah, a countdown clock. Now we’re talking.

I was annoyed to have read at the last outing that Iceland would be used, as it’s one of the few countries which still supports

Whaling… and isn’t Whaling, like Anti Star Trek (IV anyhow).

I remember being surprised at the time that Mr. Nimoy would have been ok with being associated in any way with a Whaling country.

Recently Iceland has suspended that horrible practice. (At least for this year)

So for this movie we’ll get great looking 2nd unit location shots without being hypocrites and forgetting what Star Trek IV stood for.

Lets hope all the new movie money being spent there & new awareness of Iceland in general, keeps the damnable whaling ships in port on a more permanent basis.

12. Allenburch - May 19, 2012

Wow…one of most awesome locations in the universe.

13. J.A.G.T. - May 19, 2012

GoT – Finally they’re getting north of the wall… wonder whether we’ll see any boobs there…
and yes, I’m drunk. Don’t blame me, Chelsea FC just won the Champions League Final!

14. Sebastian S. - May 19, 2012

Beautiful locations abound in that country. Prometheus and the new ST are wise to use them as ‘alien planets’ as they possess an exotic beauty you won’t find in southern California. Very nice.

I refuse to even attempt a guess at what location this could be standing in for (in the ST movie), but it is gorgeous. Makes me really anticipate Prometheus all the more as well (this article served a dual-purpose!). At least I only have to wait until June for that one…


15. Red Dead Ryan - May 19, 2012

“Batman Begins” filmed some scenes in Iceland too. In particular, the sword fight between Bruce Wayne and Henri Ducard/Ra’s al Ghul on a frozen lake.

“Die Another Day” filmed scenes there too, notably the car chase sequence.

I’m thinking the Trek crew are getting volcano shots for the scene where Spock descends with his environmental suit.

16. Endeavour Crew - May 19, 2012


Game of Frones?

17. Adolescent Nightmare - May 19, 2012

I won’t believe these confirmed rumors until Paramount confirms them.

18. Phil - May 19, 2012

Really not that big of a deal, second units will be shooting for as long as they need too….

19. "Check the Circuit!" - May 19, 2012

Love the extra miles you guys put in on this site. Appreciate the stock shots search you did to how just how alien and beautiful the Iceland locations can be.

Nice work TrekMovie!

20. Hugh Hoyland - May 19, 2012

Dang I cant wait until next year for this movie! lol I wanna see it now.

Paramount if you’ll release this early I have a 20$ bill in my pocket that aint doin a thing (wink wink).

21. Chingatchkook - May 19, 2012

Love the countdown clock…hate the amount of time remaining on it. I would love to shave a couple hundred days off that sucker!

22. Ahmed - May 19, 2012

Great to have the countdown clock back, I was thinking it might be better if the clock was moved to the top of the page or somewhere near it, just my 2 cents ;)

23. Hat Rick - May 19, 2012


24. jas_montreal - May 19, 2012

the countdown has begun ladies and gentlemen.

25. Elias Javalis - May 20, 2012

When are they gonna release the production budget info?

26. alec - May 20, 2012

Look at those pictures: Genesis!

‘All the varieties of land and weather known to Earth within a few hours walk’

27. Christopher Roberts - May 20, 2012

Vulcan lives!

Through some timey-whimey, flashback/forward, two ends of the space-time continuum folding back on itself type plot.


Or else they just went to live somewhere else.

28. denny cranium - May 20, 2012

Yes interesting post.
Thanks for the great shots.
Hopefully not a thin year for news Anthony on the Trek front!

29. VZX - May 20, 2012

Very, very cool. Since Trekmovie stated thare there be Klingons in the sequel, I’m hoping that these will be of Qo’noS, the Klingon homeworld. Actually, I bet they are!

It’s no secret that JJ likes to revisit and use popular Trek characters, items, and locations. So, it’s a good bet that the Iceland locations will stand in for some known alien planet. And why not Qo’noS? How cool would that be?

30. Gary S. - May 20, 2012

he reason for this trip is obvious.
The Country of Iceland is playing KHAN!

31. Sebastian S. - May 20, 2012

# 26

Genesis allowed is not; is plot-line forbidden…. ”


32. AJ - May 20, 2012

I’ve been to Iceland, and the first thing you notice is that there are no trees due to just how far north it is. A perfect location for other-worldly-ice-planet shots.

33. BrF - May 20, 2012

For some reason it always struck me as conspicuous that those were extras or stand-ins trudging across Alaska in VI. Hopefully it’s easier to integrate the feel of disparate shots in these digital times.

And I’m surprised that no one has yet speculated that Iceland may be in the Ceti Alpha system.

34. Gary Makin - May 20, 2012

About time a Trek movie filmed outside of the USA. Shows more ambition.

35. Tom.web - May 20, 2012

Odds are, the Iceland shots are to depict the near-inhospitable and exotic landscape of Ceti Alpha. The story doesn’t have to be a Space Seed rehash for there to be a logic and consistency to the currents of fate.

How sweet destiny would be if Khan became stranded on Ceti Alpha in the new timeline. Would that mean that Spock is destined to die 15 years later?

36. Tom.web - May 20, 2012

33, I just saw your speculation on the same matter. Heh. Yeah, did no one else say it?

37. Magic_Al - May 20, 2012

^33. It looked conspicuously “second unit” if only by omission. If a production fully goes on location they’ll take advantage of it and show the actors are there, a lot.

A digital-era example of using all second-unit location imagery is Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. It’s the only Star Wars film that was entirely a studio shoot. The closing scene on Tatooine was done with green screen and digital images after a version of the scene Lucas pre-shot on location during Episode II was deemed unusable.

38. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 20, 2012

Why should these shoots in Iceland necessarily have to depict anything alien at all, especially Ceti Alpha planets? Why not just Iceland, or is that too earth-like?…;)

Actually the country which could be considered as close to the Star Trek Genesis planet would actually be New Zealand. These two small islands contain almost every terrain found anywhere on the planet. I live within 20 minutes off the coast of the largest ocean in the world, Pacific and further north could be driving along narrow, windy, hilly roads (a good part of the Scenic Drive tarsealed only within the last 10 years) through regenerating and virgin indigenous forest, last of its kind, the kind of forest believed to have been inhabited by species of dinosaurs. Further south, two or so hours drive from here, are the (active) volcanic mountain ranges. The forests etc are no longer there – it is all alpine country. This is where the Boston students experienced their fateful and tragic accident – near Tongariro. My son, with other students, did the walk in that same region, and the guide was pleasantly surprised at how good the weather was then (mid-April). It is now autumn here – weather very changeable and a lot colder.

I am born and bred kiwi. I’ve been over much of the North Island several times. I know the kind of roads, especially if you want to explore off the “beaten track” which means you can never take anything for granted. I note that the American student driver (age 20) has been charged with dangerous driving – don’t know what all the charges are. A couple of things in his defence though – NZ drives on the left hand side of the road, as they do in the UK, whereas people in the States, Europe and other countries drive on the right hand side. That, along with the variety of terrain and changing weather conditions, can make driving a bit more hazardous for someone used to driving elsewhere, so extra caution needs to be taken.

I adore driving/being driven around NZ. It is gorgeous. However, with the increases in the cost of petrol and other basics, this pastime has become less affordable as income has not kept up…:((

* Interesting to note that Chris Pine’s lady friend Dom (as he calls her) tweeted a photo of part of California’s Big Sur a few days ago, before they left for Cannes. I had to google Big Sur – now I want to go there to see it for myself. Is it just me in wondering this – does it have to take a foreigner to reveal some of the loveliness that some of you have sitting on your doorstep but not think to share with others?

39. Sunfell - May 20, 2012


Zach Quinto apparently spent a night or two camping at Big Sur before going to Livermore for the final part of the main Star Trek shoot. He even tweeted a photo of what looked like part of his tent and a field. Big Sur is just south of Monterrey, and is one of the prettiest parts of the Pacific Coast. I’ve been there myself. Lovely place.

40. Jack - May 20, 2012

Those Prometheus spacesuits are pretty nifty.

41. Daoud - May 20, 2012

Welcome to Ceti Alpha Some-number-or-another!!
Or as we like to call it.. “Khanworld”. :)

42. ster julie - May 20, 2012

Well, there are volcanoes on Iceland, and there were earlier pics of ZQ hanging around (pun verra much intended!) in a thermo/volcano suit.

Did you know that the biggest suppliers of bananas in Europe is Iceland? Something about geo-thermal energy from the volcanoes and huge greenhouses…

43. T'Cal - May 21, 2012

I saw the third episode of season 2 of Sherlock yesterday. Just great! I’m looking forward to BC as a cast member of the new film.

44. T'Cal - May 21, 2012

Perhaps the Genesis Effect will create a new Vulcan homeworld!

45. David - May 21, 2012


Just one simple question for you: I know you can’t give details about the film away but in the most general terms, will there be much emphasis on space exploration this time or will it mainly be about conflict between Kirk’s crew and the villain?

I would love more of an emphasis on exploration of new worlds as this has never really featured in any of the Trek films. The fact you are filming in Iceland whets my appetite for that kind of thing.

46. DS9 IN PRIME TIME - May 21, 2012

Love the count down clock

47. somethoughts - May 22, 2012

Wow countdown! /stands in line is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.