The Shuttle Pod Crew Ponders The Future Of Star Trek Films

Using Noah Hawley’s recent comments about making a smaller budget Star Trek movie as a springboard, Brian, Jared, and Matt discuss the business of making movies. The podcasters discuss where Trek fits into the current business models, and the pressures to make Star Trek films a worldwide success.

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Star Trek films could follow a similar path to TV.

Star Trek almost died back in 2005.

Than the film franchise saved Star Trek from obscurity.

Now the TV shows are carrying the torch to the next generation can boldly go.

I hope the films and TV shows connect more in the future.

I would love to see a Star Trek cinematic universe.

Star Trek could also do the Marvel approach.

It’s really up to the corporate overlords over at Paramount and ViacomCBS to decide what happens to Star Trek films going forward.

Great podcast dudes. Almost everything you said touched on thoughts I’ve had about the movie franchise in recent months.

Personally I’ve always been more about the movies than the TV shows. If it had to be one or the other I would jettison the TV stuff and have ST just be the occasional movie. And preferably the oddball movie at that rather than the franchise movie.

But speaking of the franchise movie, I’m not convinced that ST couldn’t perform as well as most other mainstream movies out there. Sure, a $1 billion plus is not going to happen. But I don’t think Marvel’s early Phase One films did much better than Kelvin Trek. You COULD make a ST that sells better than the Kelvin Trek movies did… but you have to build it. And probably over the course of several movies. And the Kelvin movies ran out of gas.

So you would need to start smaller. I agree with Hawley that a $25-50 million movie is too small to turn a worthwhile profit. But I don’t think a movie that size was ever on the table anyway… I mean that figure is 1990s money. $100 mil is the figure you most often see speculated on these threads, and I think one suspects that would have been the size of Hawley’s film had they gone ahead with it. Seems like midrange is the way to go -for now- once Paramount is in a position to decide what they want.

Is ST too American? Love it. (Feels liberating hearing you guys give serious discussion to something I’ve wondered about for a while now.) Could it be made LESS American? Would Paramount be willing to retcon it? And what would that look like?

A lot of fans would reject the idea right out of hand. But then that’s why you already have the TV stuff. (I’ve pretty much written off Kurtzman Trek at this point anyway, I feel like his team has had three years now to prove they’re serious about making some quality television). If movies need a more international audience anyway, then here seems like a good argument for keeping the two franchises separate.

ST could probably do itself a favor by looking at successful sci-fi movies that have more of a “global” awareness to them. I can pick three such films (and optimistic ones at that) out of my @$$, and they are Arrival, The Martian and The Wandering Earth. What I think fans DO want is for ST to be relevant again, basically be the kind of mythology that the whole world needs.

You’re never going to get better incentive than now. I heard we have 8 years left to prevent 3c degrees of warming before the end of this century (sounds like 2c may already be off the table?). We may be lucky if we’re still watching ST here in a couple decades instead of having our vital infrastructures fall apart underneath us.

Would positively love to have seen a Tarantino Trek, but that goes back to my wanting ST to be the occasional oddball film. I’ve never been much about “canon” anyway. To me every ST’s goal should be to BE the ST that changed ST. That’s what it “really” means to make the next Wrath of Khan (as opposed to *literally* remaking TWOK). And almost every successful ST feature film has been that movie. TMP, TWOK, TVH, TUC and ST09, all five movies reinvented ST to a degree. Each more concerned with being its own thing rather than what canon was doing.

And I think that’s why I’m mostly about the feature films. On the TV front, the only ST that reinvented ST for me was TNG (DS9 expanded on it). I think STD tried to change it as well, but then it fired the only person who understood what it was.

Would you happen to have a follow-up LDS podcast in the pipeline? Just curious.


Thanks for nice words. I don’t know if an LDS follow up in the cards. Need to see who else watched the whole season. I think Kayla and I might be the only two from this crew. Not sure if you’re a listener to both TrekMovie podcasts, but I gave my thoughts on LDS over on the All Access podcast as a guest with Laurie and Tony for the season finale.

I’ll have to check it out. I may have assumed the other podcast was a CBS thing and hadn’t paid much attention to it..

There’s a lot more that could be done with the Kelvin Timeline. So many threads created in the first few movies that can be followed up on.

Yes, don’t really want another cast as that is being done with all the TV shows.

As the Kelvin crew have now got older, close the gap between the end of the the 5 year mission and TMP. Or make a new new TWOK era film with the now 1701A ship.

With any luck we’ll see SNW sooner than later. Doesn’t sound like things are proceeding very quickly.

I’ll just say on the matter of excitement for Star Trek in 2016, the Creation event in Chicago at the Wynn was awesome! People flooded the room for Shatner the day after the 50th anniversary.

A superb and very welcome discussion. I hope that some folks involved with the process take note.

It was helpful that the ShuttlePod Crew looked the Star Trek movie problem as part of a larger problem in Paramount’s strategic approach. Paramount execs clearly want to take on their sense of being at the margins by making a splash and an impression rather than build up market share from the bottom (as compared to say Disney with Touchstone in the 90s). This doesn’t sound like a fit for a Star Trek movie.

Most of all I really want to thank the ShuttlePod Crew for acknowledging some of the embedded American exceptionalism in Star Trek and honestly putting it forward as a possible limitation for the franchise globally.

It’s not often that American reviewers can take a step back to see how that would play outside the United States. Acknowledging that American “Manifest Destiny” isn’t something that plays well elsewhere is very much out of the ordinary, but I believe that understanding this issue may be key to making the franchise viable beyond English speaking countries and Germany.

I’m actually more optimistic about the ability for the Star Trek franchise to work around this than the ShuttlePod Crew.

As much as it may be “baked in” from an American viewer’s perspective, the other “baked in values” of acceptance of diversity, intercultural curiosity and tolerance can have broader global appeal. More, Trek’s society seems more in the tradition progressive traditions in the UK and the British Commonwealth countries as well as the EU. I can see potential for market growth in Latin America, South Asia and Africa. In many cases, these value questions don’t have to be scanned as being the American way, the crucial thing is to avoid explicitly linking them to the United States.

So, while I gagged as a teenager seeing a Canadian (Shatner) in The Omega Glory holding up the United States constitution as if it were the only model (and still can’t stand that episode), I look instead to how Paris is the Federation capital, how the institutions incorporate other traditions (e.g. the rank of Commodore), and how Trek maintains an ongoing dialogue about the need balance the good of the many vs the individual.

Basically, global reach will depend on whether the EPs, showrunners, writers and directors keep reinforcing this American exceptionalism and make Federation exceptionalism an allegory for that, or if they hold up great values with without the belief that naturally the American way is best and will dominate.

In terms of the movie franchise, I believe that TPTB have been oblivious. Having the over-the-top supervillan of a movie is not desirable representation.

Television has been more of a mix. The EPs and writers of DS9 definitely took on Federation exceptionalism even if that phrase wasn’t used. In fact, that was one of the underlying themes.

I’m not sure Kurtzman is as conscious of it as a problem in spite of the Klingon war being predicated on resisting assimilation.

Clearly, Kurtzman wouldn’t have revived references to “Wagon Train to the Stars” if he had any awareness of how tied it is to the creation of Canada as a distinct country to defend against American expansion. More, I think he would be appalled to know that many informed BIPOC people associate the Oregon trail with a state constitution that expressly excluded anyone who wasn’t white from residence in the state for more than a few years.

I’m like to think that there would be more characters that are representative of human cultures and populations outside the United States, if Kurtzman and the TPTB for the movie franchise would bring the strong Trek value set to this question.

They just need to get past ViacomCBS’ default to hire from California in order to get more globally diverse creatives and actors with better representation, and to use contractual authority to require that the majority of characters in their products do not have Anglo-American names and biographies. If they can set hard boundaries on BIPOC representation, they can do this.



I wish people would try to understand the difference between a political discussion and a discussion about not ticking off the audience in other countries that you’d like to enjoy your movie.

If audiences outside the United States are offended by the content they are less likely to pay to see the movie, then it won’t have enough revenue outside the United States to be profitable, so more movies in the franchise won’t be made.

Why should audiences around the world give their “dollar votes” to Star Trek when it leans into American nationalism? (But I don’t think that it has to do that to keep it’s aspirational Trek values.)

I’m not reaching at all here, and I’m a Canadian who has lived, studied and worked the US for a significant period of my adult life. So, I have a fairly good idea of how difficult it can be to have this discussion.

But even for Canadians, in a culture seemingly close to the American, this stuff can grate, and the time has passed when Hollywood was effectively the only source of content.

So, I really appreciate the ShuttlePod Crew posing the question of how and how much the Trek franchise can adjust to be more global without alienating American fans who may be reading in and looking to see more “baked in” American nationalism.

FYI: Nothing wrong with what TG47 said, it’s a springboard off what we talked about in the podcast, he’s trying to have a larger discussion about the comments we made.

I just find it odd that a Canadian is complaining about a STAR TREK movie being too much of a U.S. product when the last film was made entirely in Canada?

Over the years, I’ve noticed French-Canadian co-produced sf with U.S. companies having no problem making sure French-Canadian interests, such as the French language or a character whose first language clearly is the same, into the production.

You even note Shatner’s nationality and he had points in the original series.

I’m just not sure your problem with Paramount, a U.S. American company, is that it slants its product too much towards U.S. appealing interests because it is “American”, but rather that like the Canadians making STAR TREK they both think there’s more money to be made making it more attractive to a larger and more lucrative market.

And if I’m not mistaken, didn’t all the BR Trek movies, have special edits to make them more appealing to other markets like, China?

And I seem to recall, a producers’ grattitude card edited out as being to rah-rah for anything but the U.S. so this Paramount doesn’t appear to now be as oblivious as you make them out to be.

Disinvited, the discussion wasn’t intended to be about where it’s made and industrial benefits, but how having uniformly American creative control can lead to some blind spots that can make Star Trek less marketable overseas than other franchises.

Canadians are huge fans of Trek, which is why BellMedia’s Sci-fi Channel runs over 25 hours of Trek a week. That doesn’t mean it never offends though.

Some of those “blind spots” come off as in-your-face American nationalism even when it’s not intended.

(It clearly was in the Omega Glory, and it seems really out of step with having Uhura, Chekhov, and Sulu on that bridge.)

I gave the example of the “Wagon Train to the Stars” as something that can seem so utterly benign to Americans, while our kids’ standard middle-school Oxford Canadian history text gives a very different perspective.

I know that this can be so incredibly hard to see from within American culture, but if you are selling a franchise of an aspirational human society but your also putting it in people’s faces that this utopia is one where America is still dominant or Americans are the only interesting humans, there’s just not as many people in the rest of the world who will be inspired by that.


No, I understood perfectly that as an “American” blindspot that you were trying to paint it as soley the result of U.S. citizens’ influence.

I was just pointing out plenty of Canadians, with creative influence, were around contributing to it too.

For example, Shatner, a Canadian, was infamous for having lines originally assigned to other characters rewritten for Kirk. I’m just not sure Shatner can be left off the hook for every cringe worthy line in OMEGA GLORY offensive to Canadians.

The same applies for any Canadian offenses that you found in STAR TREK BEYOND.There were plenty of Canadians around to put a stop to it. If no one spoke up the fault can’t totally lie with US creatives.

I’m just pointing out what I am sure that you are well aware, but are turning a blind eye to: there are plenty of Canadians that think the US can do no wrong too, i.e. buy into the concept of US exceptionalism that irks you so. I’m just pointing out that it is not just solely a US problem/bias when it comes to Canada in STAR TREK productions.

And for the record, I found the inaccuracies in the Canadians Gordon Sinclair and Byron MacGregor’s US cheerleading annoying too.

When I was in the mix, I always thought a Star Trek series should follow Captain Sulu. Tie the universes together through his adventures. Would still like to see that. Cmon Alex!

Did you envision the Captain Sulu series starring George Takei or John Cho?


Can’t you just text him?

not that simple. Movie side of things would have to agree to let it happen probably since it could affect movie plans. Probably why they didn’t go for it first time. In retrospect, hmm…

With the merger I think Alex will give it a shot at some point to tie it all up even if it isn’t with Sulu

How about a mini-series on Paramount+ for a Captain Sulu show starring John Cho? It could have one or two other Kelvin-verse actors, but not the ones that cost too much. On the Excelsior.


Make it happen, Cap’n

Please save Trek. Thank you.

Not sure how that would work to tie the universes together Bob.

Do you mean that one or both of the Sulus cross between the parallel threads of the multiverse? Or that Sulu is the hero in an important event in both universes. Or both?

That’s an interesting idea, especially if it led to / involved some crucial “time crystal” fixed event that happens in the period between The Undiscovered Country and the TNG era.

( I’m using time crystal in the sense defined in physics as a point in time that is the same across all the multiverse. When it involves the physical matrix of a crystal as shown in Discovery not the central point.)

By the way, it’s good to have you drop in again Bob.

I agree Bob, I always thought there was merit in the Captain Sulu idea and in fact I was quite surprised that no one considered picking up a Captain Sulu series with John Cho in the title role, especially in the representative movement we are currently seeing in entertainment.

I actually wrote up a quick outline for a Captain Sulu TV series starring John Cho before Discovery came out. Makes a lot of sense.

Should have happened in the 90’s, that ship has sailed

They made a VOY episode of it… either to ‘prove’ it would never work, or to unintentionally demonstrate they wouldn’t have been the right team to do it, we’ll never know.

It didn’t seem like the hearts of that writers room were into it.

Would love to see it :-)

What’s interesting enough about Sulu to merit a series centered around him? I’m just curious. Can anyone explain why this would be especially interesting dramatically?

Of the TOS protagonists, Kirk, Spock and McCoy are the most interesting, because they each represent a certain aspect or side of humanity that is sometimes classified in terms of the Aristotilian Modes of Persuasion: ethos, logos and pathos. Basically, Spock is logos—facts, figures and reasoning (logic); McCoy is pathos—the appeal to emotion, “have a heart,” etc…; and Kirk is ethos—credibility, common sense, the practical everyman, and the balance between the extremes represented by Spock and McCoy.

What’s interesting about Sulu?


I, for one, have wondered what’s the story behind Sulu’s expertise in being able to use ancient Earth warfare tech, the epee, the revolver, the helicopter similar to warfare design, etc.?

Are we just supposed ti chalk it up as stereotypical Asian technological expertise somehow connected to the Asian reverence for the ancestors, in which case I suppose Sulu would represent nostalgia, or does Sulu’s story have something deeper and more interesting to tell?

Yes, Paramount should understand that Star Trek movies are NOT Star Wars movies. I remember an interview with Simon Pegg before Beyond came out where he stated that Paramount wanted the next Star Trek movie to be like Guardians of the Galaxy. They stated they are leaving money on the table by not following that model. Pegg did defend Trek, but it seems like Paramount wants to make a Star Trek movie that is not a Star Trek movie, except in name only. I do not understand how they do not understand that if they did that, it would not only be a disaster, but would make LESS money than they would hope.

Star Trek has and should change, but not to the point where it is unrecognizable. While I do not like 80% of Discovery, it is still recognizable as Star Trek. The same with the Picard series. There should be changes and progress, and perhaps an attempt to reach other demographics even in other countries, but not to the point that it is not Star Trek anymore. Is it possible to have Spock in a giant Mech suit battling giant space monsters? Maybe? But I doubt it.

As stated in the podcast, Star Trek movies have a box office ceiling. There is definitely a market for that, but the budget should be kept in check in order to have a good return on investment. If anything, Paramount is leaving money on the table by not making a good low-budget Star Trek movie. They could make a bunch of low-budget movies every two years as opposed to a big budget every three years and make even more.

I think that Star Trek II Wrath of Khan is the lowest-budgeted Star Trek movie, but is definitely the best. And I think it had the highest ROI, just saying.

VZX, we need to look at overall ROI, not just profitability on American theatre goers.

Wrath of Khan is not beloved outside North America, and it’s revenues – whether in-theatre, DVDs or streaming just don’t support the narrative that it had the best ROI.

Great podcast. I agree that Tarantino likely wanted to work with Shatner. However while still very active he is getting up in years. When did the plan on making that film? Surprised Alex Kurtzman hasn’t tapped Shatner for a special episode already given all the different ways CBS has gone.

In theory they were playing with the idea of making the film in 2018. So yeah, time is passing :-/

I was listening another podcast, “Critically Acclaimed”, about genre movies and movies in general. The speakers were saying that because of COVID the future of movies on the big screen is in question. The industry giants, like Disney, are directing their big event movies to the small screen, specifically, Disney +. The much bashed CBS All Access platform is the way of the future. Star Trek is already there in a big way. There is no need for a separate movie franchise.

New to — Brian, Jared, and Matt … anyone(s) I should know (who are those guys?) …

Re: Holiday Trek

I seem to recall in CHARLIE X Kirk telling Charlie they we having trouble reprogramming the food replicators for turkey dinners for Thanksgiving?