Noah Hawley Laments Paramount Halting His “Really Fun” Star Trek Movie Just Before Production

Last summer news broke that new management at Paramount Pictures had put a pause on the Star Trek film project being developed by Noah Hawley. Now the writer/director is speaking out about the project being shut down and revealing just how close he was to production.

Hawley Trek was already casting when shut down

In a conversation with Deadline focused on the latest season of his television series Fargo, the subject of Hawley’s film work came up, kicked off by his lament that a change in management at Sony Pictures put a stop to a project to adapt one of his own novels. This led to the following exchange with Deadline’s Pete Hammond.

Deadline: That always happens with a change of scenery at a studio, everything you think you’ve got set up. You know what I’m pointing towards here; Star Trek at Paramount and a brilliant kind of new reinvention of such a major franchise. And then someone comes in and the whole thing stalls, or things happen.

Noah Hawley: That sums it up pretty perfectly. We were on the runway. There was major casting that we were in the middle of. We had a production schedule and I was getting ready to go to Australia. And then, as you said, new management. I guess in retrospect, what surprised me is not that Emma Watts came in and said, “Are you people crazy? This is a this is an untested crew. This is an original idea. We don’t know if this is going to work or not work.” It’s that I got as far as I did under [former head of Paramount Motion Picture Group] Wyck [Godfrey] and [Paramount President] Jim [Gianopulos]. It was a really fun movie and I think it would have been a great film, but you can’t control these things. So we move on.

Hawley had originally been tapped to develop his Star Trek movie in 2019, after the direct sequel to Star Trek Beyond was shelved before production was to begin, due to a breakdown on salary renegotiations with Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth earlier that year. Previously, Hawley had revealed he was developing something new, with a new cast. It appears that by spring 2020 he was already casting for the film and getting ready to go into production in Australia. The writer/producer has also indicated his Star Trek film would not have a focus on action, like the three Kelvin Universe films. Composer (and longtime Hawley collaborator) Jeff Russo recently told TrekMovie that Hawley had a different approach, predicting fans would “lose their minds” over the film (in a good way).

Emma Watts joined Paramount from Fox last summer to replace Wyck Godfrey as head of the Motion Picture Group. Shortly after, news broke that she had put a pause on Hawley’s project. His comment about her thinking it was “crazy” to do something with “an untested crew” may not be talking about a Starfleet crew as much as using the more traditional Hollywood lingo of trusting the Trek film franchise to the crew of Hawley and his production company. While Hawley has several Emmy nominations (and one win) for his work on television, his late 2019 feature film debut as writer/producer/director on Lucy in the Sky was a critical and box office disappointment for Fox Searchlight — and remember, Watts had just arrived from Fox.

Moving on

When Deadline’s Hammond complimented Hawley’s relaxed attitude about having his project thwarted, Noah revealed more about how the experience with Trek impacted him:

Noah Hawley: It’s not easy. You have to allow yourself to have that process of—I won’t say grieving because you know, it’s not life or death—but you do have to pour your 40 out on the ground for the movie that would have been. To really celebrate that you were excited artistically about something and now you have to—just as you were getting ready to ramp up—you have to cauterize that wound and move on.

And Hawley has moved on. In addition to working on ideas for a final season of Fargo, he is also developing a television show based on the Alien franchise for FX.

As for Emma Watts and Paramount, they have also moved on to new projects. In March Paramount and producer J.J. Abrams chose writer Kalinda Vazquez to pen a new Star Trek film, and in April Paramount set a June 2023 release date for a reportedly different “secret” Star Trek film, also to be produced by J.J. Abrams.

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I would love to know what this project would have been!

What I fear is Star Trek being released as a comedy. Not saying it would happen here, and as long as an A lister – say someone like Seth Rogan – is not attached I am fine with any decision.

Just do good serious though provoking science fiction with a strong moral lesson.

The A list stars are NOT necessary.

If Seth Rogen were truly an A lister, you would have spelled his name correctly.

Arnold was and I still couldn’t spell his name right.

Try referring to Seth Rogen as just Seth and see if anybody knows who you are talking about.

He’d be my second guess after the talk show guy. Or maybe the first.

Sorry, Seth!

I should know better. I acted NEXT to him in AMERICAN PICKLE. He’s OK. Actually, I think he has matured greatly in his movie career. Minus the constant pot smoking.

The thought of a ST comedy, or a movie that takes shots at itself, is NOT a good idea for a series that takes a lot of effort in effects and sets to achieve a serious tone.

But then again ST IV was a welcome break. So, I guess it comes down to creative writing.

trek pandemic movie

Leak the script!

he’ll be still hoping it will get made as a movie or stream series

I only want this to happen is circumstances are such that it becomes flat-out impossible for the story to be told otherwise. I’d hate for it to be spoiled before it has a chance to be told. But after its adapted or after its clear it never will be, I’d LOVE to read a leaked script. I love production what-ifs, and as we all know, Trek is full of ’em.

I don’t trust Paramount to make the right decision – I suspect Hawley’s script was very good or excellent, so of course – it’s discarded!

Of course, not knowing what actually happened, it’s entirely possible that Paramount made the right decision.

Possible, of course. But we will never know now. Obviously I have no insight to the situation but my gut tells me this had potential to be interesting.

How many scripts have been abandoned now?

Honestly, if Into Darkness can make money, there’s no reason to think any of these wouldn’t.

The problem isn’t ID, it’s Beyond, which underperformed at the box office. If you’re continuing to throw 200MM at features with shrinking ROI, at some point something has to give. That’s one of the reasons I’m not holding my breath about JJ’s “secret” project. He’s never once said a decent Trek movie could be done for 100-120MM. Post pandemic, I don’t see Paramount throwing 200MM at any project, let alone Trek.

Mission Impossible 7 and 8. They are putting plenty of money into those films. But the return on investment is better than on Star Trek.

Just as well, as far as I’m concerned. Trek needs good ideas more than it needs huge budgets.

I’m not saying they should try to do movies for under $20 million again in 2021, but I don’t think they need to spend $100 million either, let alone $200 million. That kind of outlay nearly (not quite, but nearly, IMO) assures lots of action and spectacle, but little substance.

From what little we’ve heard of Hawley’s project, it sounds like something I’d have been interested in (even if it proved to exceed the $100 million budget I just suggested as something to avoid). A new crew, and a movie not focused simply on action? Sign me up! Alas, the kind of Trek I most want doesn’t seem to be the kind TPTB at Viacom are interested in making. Oh, well…

Three known projects have been announced and paused or abandoned – the Kirk meets his dad project, the Tarantino “Piece of the Action” project, and the Hawley project.

I guess studios are pitched ideas all the time by directors and writers.

But for some reason, I am thinking that Paramount – in the last 5 years or so – has been extremely fortunate to have Hawley, Tarantino, and other talented directors and writers seeking the chance to do a Star Trek film.

– Does not produce Billion dollar profits like the MCU.
– Does not have ridiculous, near relig-ulous, global fan love like Star Wars.
– Does not have Bond style brand cachet.
– No longer creates complex, multi-layerd narratives like a Nolan-verse film.
– Thankfully, does not have executives who make it their job to routinely muck up the franchise like the WB execs do for DCEU films.

Star Trek is like the step child of the A-list mega franchises. Yet, to have Hawley, QT, and others actively seeking to set up productions for a Trek film… I find it amazing.

And I find it equally amazing that Paramount did not take advantage of the opportunities that now, will not come again… not via those people and not in the same pre-Covid setting when going into a theater was the way for a movie to be seen and for it to earn the Billions.

I only hope that what we get from the next Trek film gives strong evidence that it was worth turning down Hawley, QT and the others that came before.

If not, I have the feeling it will remind me of an old country song that had something to do with… “I got up and shaved for this?!?!”.


not going with Tarantino Trek has affected my MH and keeps me awake at night

– No longer creates complex, multi-layerd narratives like a Nolan-verse film.

I have always hoped that Christopher Nolan would do a Star Trek film.

Eh. He’s just okay in my opinion. His only movie I’ve really liked was The Dark Knight. Dark Knight Rises was a Batman movie with very little Batman in it. Interstellar is vastly over-rated and Tenet was good looking nonsense, style over substance (the same thing everyone here seems to criticize the Bad Robot Trek movies for.)

An awful lot of people grew up loving Star Trek, and that includes people in the movie industry. We really are everywhere! So I think it’s no surprise that there are a lot of folks who want to do Star Trek; SO many people are sentimentally attached to this universe.

As fans all we can do is hope. Although to be honest I had strong reservations of the QT script. Just not a fan of Quinton’s work. Of course, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t change his style for a Trek feature. But something tells me he wouldn’t all that much.

and Meyers

Do we KNOW that there was a finished script? If so has anybody heard what it might have been about?

That pointed comment is painfully accurate and a delight to read.

Comedy or suspense. Not sure now what to think. But I have a hunch the next movie will be the unification of the Kelvin Universe and the new productions and tv/streaming shows.

Some people have made comments like this this. Honestly I really don’t see the need for it.

Absolutely do not see the need for it! That kind of plotting gets you the eye-rolling moments of total rejection, like the way LETHAL WEAPON 2 twists and turns to come up with a mutation on Riggs’ backstory by transforming his wife’s accidental death in a deliberate murder.

Man this sucks! It sounds like we were finally getting an original story and cast at least! Not another TOS or TNG reboot, something actually NEW! Wow!

Of course it could’ve still been bad but like others I would like to know what the actual idea is now. But between this, the Beyond sequel and the Tarantino idea, this one piqued my interest the most. Oh well!

But it does confirm it sound like the Kelvin cast are actually done. It doesn’t mean they can’t come back again but it does sounds like Paramount is moving on.

No mention here of the virus which obliviously linked to the current pandemic

Waiting to hear from Emma Watts…..might be a long wait

Clone Jon Favreau, turn him into a Trek fan, and Paramount would green light whatever he came up with.

are you kidding, he’d give the entire current team such an inferiority complex that he’d be gone faster than Ron Moore went from VOYAGER.

Amen to that, Lurker.

But we’re getting Lower Decks and Prodigy. These surely more than make up for Hawley’s cancelled project. *snort*.

So far, absolutely.

Agree with the sarcastic comment completely. We can throw Star Trek Discovery in there, too.

At this point I’d love to see a feature that had zero connections to anything Secret Hideout related. They seem to have the opposite Midas touch wen it comes to Trek.

Not liking Lower Decks I get, even though I enjoy it myself, but what’s your beef with Prodigy? So far we’ve seen not even one second of actual footage. How is it you hate it already – just don’t care for the premise?

If it’s as “fun” as Lucy in the Sky, then this was probably for the best.

I don’t think anyone advertised Lucy as fun, though. It looked dark and depressing, since it was loosely based on that astronaut who went nuts.

I’d like to hope that Hawley’s project really could be resuscitated. Plus something more with the Kevin universe crew – but I’m also willing to wait for that, letting them be farther along in their careers. The QT project – not so much.

Still think the kelvin crew will come back for another JJ adventure (JJ will probably direct as well!).

Emma Watts gets that no point wasting tens of millions on a new ship & new crew setup. Just make a decent story driven JJ Trek with less eye candy FX blowouts & more of what made the early TOS films work!!

Otherwise no point making the movie just make it a TV movie or Streaming series instead……..

The main issue is the Kelvin cast is probably just too expensive now to make a much lower costing movie. And my guess is since Star Wars, Abrams fee has shot up as well. Seem like if you’re trying to save money the last thing you want is to spend tens of millions on the cast and director alone.

Put it THIS way. In the first movie they only paid Chris Pine $600 thousand. By the third movie, it was now $6 million, 10 times the amount, and yet Beyond made less than the first one, $100 million less in the U.S. alone. THAT’s why they are probably moving towards a new cast in the next movie.

VFX were the biggest single cost I think on these last 3 movies. Having a mega FX blowout every few minutes of screen time is where all the money goes. Cast cost way less than the sets! Still think JJ + Kelvin crew can do a cheaper movie with less FX more space opera drama!! No way Paramount even bother launching a new crew & ship theatrically no audience for it as Trek is not a major brand outside N America. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few!

If that was the case, then they would’ve just paid Chris Pine whatever they were suppose to pay him back in 2018 and the fourth movie would’ve been out already, maybe even this year for the 55th anniversary. But as we all know that didn’t happen.

So OBVIOUSLY cast cost is a big issue if they weren’t even willing to pay the star of it what they promised him. I’m not saying we’ll never see that cast again, but clearly the writing is on the wall if they are going ahead with other movie ideas with them, right?

And how do you know there is ‘no audience for it’??? They are launching 5 Star Trek shows as we speak, clearly there is an audience somewhere lol. The only real issue was trying to turn the movies into huge blockbuster films like Marvel and Star Wars which got them into trouble which AGAIN maybe Hawley’s script cost way less than the previous films. I’ll say it again, if they could’ve made the next Kelvin movie for a much lower price then we probably would’ve had another one by now. It’s been 5 years already.

I don’t think the original people who did the first 2 films are going to be reassembled. Beyond had very little connection to the first two. No Alex Kurtzman, No Bob Orci, no JJ directing. Entire plot threads from the previous film were dropped. It was like a soft reboot. Like someone wanted to make a amped up TOS episode, or fan send up of a TOS movie on steroids.

had they gone with Orci’s ST3 it wouldve most likely been closer to the previous 2 (or ST09 anyway as dealing with Prime TL, Shatner returning like Nimoy etc) it wouldve been awesome for the 50th. Instead we got Beyond

Which for all its endless-act3 faults, I still find BEYOND infinitely better than everything in the two Abrams films, especially 09, which I utterly abhor. It’s like a little kid playing at TREK, substituting unmotivated lens flares every time his lack of mental development fails him when it comes to actual storytelling that uses genuine trek mythology. Instead he tries to cram these characters into place using a traditional hero’s journey mythos, which is disrespectful of what TOS actually accomplished.

It wouldn’t be a JJ Trek if it had less eye candy FX blowouts, and he probably wouldn’t know how to do it or have any interest. Geez, I so hope that guy’s involvement with TREK goes away soon, and for good.

Honestly, I’d be delighted if they just completely dropped the Kelvin timeline entirely.

Similarly honestly, of all the options floated around in recent years (a fourth Kelvin movie, a Tarantino riff on “A Piece of the Action”, etc.) I like what little I know about Hawley’s idea most – a non-action-oriented movie centered around an entirely new core crew.

And in all honesty, if they must make a fourteenth film centered around some established crew that’s recently / currently active (going back to 2009, so including the Kelvin crew, Picard, Discovery, etc.), the option that would interest me most would be a Lower Decks movie, animated like the show and set between two given adjacent seasons of it. I know lots of folks here would hate it, but frankly that’s almost certainly going to happen anyway no matter which way they go,, and if that’s the case then I’d like to be in the half of the fandom that likes the new movie for a change, as it hasn’t been the case for me for a long time now. Mind you, that’s still not my first pick, as I’m not sure about the LD style working over the length of a feature, but to me it’s still vastly more interesting than either another movie with the Kelvin timeline cast/crew or one with any of the crews of any of the current live-action shows, so say nothing of Tarantino Trek. And I kind of like the idea of an animated Trek feature.

Wasn’t there even an additional unmade film not mentioned here: didn’t Orci develop a script for the 3rd Abrams film that was rejected in favor of Beyond?

I would love to give that one a read.

I 2nd that.

It wasn’t rejected in favor of BEYOND; BEYOND was a replacement after Orci’s project was shut down. There’s also some confusion (at least on my part) about whether the thing that was developed right after BEYOND was another version of that same story or not.

I just find it strange that Hawley is still telling everyone how great his movie is. The script of course IS his child and he IS proud of it and thinks that it would be the best thing for Trek since slice sliced bread but beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and if you have to promote your script so often and by telling everyone how great it is, then maybe it isn’t as great as Hawley thinks it is. I for one am not interested in seeing his version. Sounds extremely boring to me.

This guy has a tremendously creative storytelling track record, quite unlike those doing TREK so badly this century. Would you expect somebody, who, when asked about work that took up a year or more of his life, to simply dismiss it with ‘I got paid for it, they didn’t do it.’ That wouldn’t just not be self-serving, it’d be stupid.

Most people still don’t get that it is about the execution more than the idea a lot of the time.The novel UHURA’S SONG is at heart just a ‘search for a plague cure’ story, but the journey the crew goes on to get the answer is a real trip, with great characterizations. You can’t dismiss something like that as boring just based on a logline without actually reading it for yourself, so your ‘sounds extremely boring to me’ just seems like the height of genuine stupidity and shortsightedness.

Not stupidity nor shortsightedness. Must I remind you of his creative success with his highly unsuccessful flop called “Lucy in the Sky”. And before you mention the two TV series that people did seem to like mot everyone including myself thought that they were good. His statement in an interview was that His idea of Trek was the scene in which Kirk puts on his reading glasses to read the code to lower the other Federation ship’s shields. I just do not think his concept of Trek is one that fans will like either. By the way I have just watch a video rumor about the new movie from May 10, 2021. I forget the source but the rumor is the new movie being written is to have a female lead. Apparently Paramount want diversity which is OK but not at the expense of a good script. I do not like Discovery and Picard(Picard was never one of my favorite characters on TNG) so I think my fandom of Trek is at an end. After all of the false starts and stops surrounding the fourth movie, I will not be seeing it in a movie theater until after all the reviews are in and movie critics view it as an unmitigated success.

In fairness, it’s (apparently) not like Hawley is just running around constantly telling everyone he meets, unprompted, about what he’d planned for Star Trek. A writer for Deadline brought it up while interviewing him about something else, so of course he talked about it. Presumably he doesn’t run around telling everyone he meets about it, unless they specifically ask him about it first.

would have loved to see hawley’s take on trek. not very interested in another kelvinverse movie. thats so 2009.

yes its hard to believe but 2009 is completely another era ago especially in movie trends. i mean in 09 no streaming, MCU still in its ‘is this even gonna work’ infancy (as is Fast&Furious), no DCU or cinematic universe trend yet, Transformers/Potter/Pirates/TDK/Xmen/Dan Brown/Hangover/Avatar rule and Star Trek is cool/TMP huge and looking toward an endless cinematic future. and aside MCU/F&F later expanding to crazy levels the only real constants that remain to this day are MI, Craig Bond, and Indiana Jones. (and Avatar one day).. oh and no pandemic etc .

Star Wars is still relevent and will return someday. When Disney decides to make another trilogy. Maybe this time with a plan.

Yes absolutely but I was just talking about what was popular in 2009/late 00s/early 10s era (basically a decade ago) and whats still in vogue now

What has that is so 2009 got to do with it? If you make THAT statement a guiding rule then Star Trek should have ended over 50 years ago with the original being SOOO 1960’s. I really do not think that the Kelvin story ENDED with 2009 or 2017 just as the story of Picard, DS9 or TNG did not end with their series finale. Voyager was the only one that actually had an ending to the story plot. I for one would like to see another movie for the Kelvin cast preferably with a writer that loves Star Trek and does NOT put Star Wars first place in his priorities.

Why can’t they come up with a good script for the Kelvin cast and get a good director. I want to see one more film. Can we at least get one movie with the Enterprise A before they decide its over.

well they kind of had Tarantino to write and direct at one point.. you really cant get any better than that

Beyond flopped! Paramount is clearly super nervous about making another one because they fear the next one can flop again and the cast and production is not cheap.

It’s not if they can come up with a good script or a director, it seems more about can they make the movie at a budget where it will give them a strong ROI for them? And the reality is NONE of those films made the kind of money Paramount was hoping to make and (what many don’t seem to realize or forget) these were some of the most expensive movies in Paramount history. The Mission Impossible movies cost less but yet made hundreds of millions more than the Kelvin movies, especially the last three.

That’s why they are shooting two of those films back to back while five years on no one seems jazzed about making another Kelvin movie.

So they put the entire series in mothballs for 20 million dollars, because that is how short it fell from making twice its budget. That is peanuts for studios like Paramount.

I think no one is “jazzed” because we have traveled this road before with no follow through. Tired of all of Paramount’s hype about the production and release of a new movie only to have it dissipate in a few months. I will not believe it until the post movie credits are scrolling on a movie screen. All I can say is that with me Paramount already has 2 strikes down and it will depend on the characters and script as to whether I will spend money on it.

Eh, I don’t care to see the A if it’s just going to get its face kicked in like its predecessor did every movie.

I’m not sure what the biggest crime of the Kelvin movies was…

  1. Doggedly insisting it was a timeline and not an alternate universe
  2. Doing the whole 09 movie to set up telling entirely new stories with familiar characters and then going HARD into continuity nods (more like head-bangs) with Into Darkness
  3. Never showing the Enterprise winning a fight.

It’s show BUSINESS, folks. It costs so much money to make a genre film. Expectations are even higher for a Trek film. If it tanked? Yikes. Paramount + is the perfect vehicle to greenlight small medium budget movies, ideally using existing sets. It’s quite a wait for new seasons. A few films in the off season would keep subs active.

Other studios make films that flop they don’t close up shop after one film underperforms. Even MI 3 underperformed more MI films were still made. JJ was still given Star Trek 2009 despite MI 3, Maybe they were just less risk averse then?

Thank God. His movie would have sucked.