Last week during the Paramount Investors Day Event, producer J.J. Abrams was brought in to announce Paramount was moving forward with a new Star Trek movie planned for release in 2023, which would unite the Kelvin crew from the previous three Star Trek feature films. The one caveat at the time was that the studio had not yet secured deals with the actors, and a new report indicates the announcement took those stars by surprise.
Paramount has made no secret that J.J. Abrams is at work on a “top secret” Star Trek film project, which was first announced last April when the studio set a 2023 release date. So last week it didn’t come as a huge surprise when Abrams appeared at the investor event with, “We are thrilled to say that we are hard at work on a new Star Trek film that will be shooting by the end of the year that will be featuring our original cast.”
But according to The Hollywood Reporter, the announcement about bringing back the Kelvin crew was a surprise to “most, if not all, teams for the franchise’s primary players.” Agents for the actors were not aware “their clients would be touted as a part of the deal, and certainly not that their clients would be shooting a movie by year’s end.”
Getting Chris Pine to come back as James T. Kirk is said to be the “lynchpin,” with the actor first to enter negotiations. Pine was a holdout the last time Paramount tried to reunite the crew for a different follow-up to Beyond that was set to start filming in early 2019; it was shelved after Pine (and Chris Hemsworth, who isn’t needed this time) balked when Paramount tried to renegotiate deals made before the release of Star Trek Beyond.
Admiral, this is an almost totally new Paramount
Also, according to THR, the script and budget have yet to be finalized for the 2023 film, so the film does not yet have an official green light—and of course, cast salaries are a big variable in that budget. While money is why the last attempt to follow up Beyond fell apart, the situation may be different this time. Paramount is in a better financial situation and has gone through an extensive reorganization, with new management throughout the studio, including new CEO Brian Robbins who said last October he “can’t wait” to get live-action Star Trek back on the big screen, adding it was “crucial to the health of the overall franchise.”
As THR notes, by announcing the film to Wall Street investors, “Paramount let go of negotiating leverage.” The report also points out that the world has changed with the new focus on streaming spending, noting “what seemed expensive in 2018 is now, in a world where Netflix or Apple is making $30 million-plus talent deals, a norm.”
So six years after the last Star Trek movie, the next continues to be in flux. While there is clearly interest by all parties to see it happen, as always, it all comes down to the math. Can they find a budget that gets the cast they want, that still makes sense based on the projected earnings a Star Trek movie with that cast can make? In 2018 the answer was no. But with enough things changed, in 2022 that answer may be yes. One thing is for sure, they are running out of time to work all this out if they want to meet the planned filming start this fall.
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