Things have been quiet on the Paramount Pictures front since the director exited and they removed the “Star Trek 4” project from their 2023 schedule back in September. Zoe Saldana is the first member of the Kelvin movies cast to talk about the proposed follow-up to 2016’s Star Trek: Beyond since the big shakeup.
Saldana is ready for more Trek
Since Paramount Pictures and producer J.J. Abrams announced in February 2022 that they were moving forward with a new movie slated for Christmas of 2023, the members of the Star Trek Kelvin movie cast since have had a consistent refrain: They are excited to return to work together and expect a movie to eventually happen, but were skeptical it could happen on time with shooting originally announced to start this fall.
One person who hadn’t talked publicly about Star Trek 4 so far this year is Zoe Saldana (Uhura), but the subject finally came up when she was a guest for the latest episode of Deadline’s 20 Questions podcast. Saldana echoed the statements of her co-stars about wanting to do another movie together, and agreed there were issues with the timing. However, she also indicated the schedule may not be the only thing holding the film back:
We were in touch with J.J. and we were trying to sort of see if we were going to be able to this past fall. I don’t think it was possible. I have my sort of ideas that maybe it was just like schedules were very… we couldn’t manage to get a whole cast and a whole crew to sort of come together. But I think as well it probably has something else to do with the project. But I know that we’re all on the same page that we would love nothing more than to be able to come back.
What’s the holdup at Paramount?
It’s unclear what the “something else” is that Saldana’s referring to. It could be related to director Matt Shakman’s exit from the project in August. Shortly before Shakman’s exit, Chris Pine again stated how he was excited to return and looked forward to playing Captain Kirk in future films throughout his career, but he also noted he was still waiting to see a script. Earlier in the year, Pine revealed that he had spoken to Paramount executives, imploring them not to shoot for Marvel-level box office for the next Star Trek film. This issue of finding the right balance of budget and scale for Star Trek movies to make a profit is something Paramount has wrestled with since launching the film franchise in 1979.
In August, after Shakman left the project, the studio issued a statement signaling a continued commitment to the project, saying they were “excited about the creative vision of this next chapter and look forward to bringing it to audiences all around world” as they began a search for a new director. This week the studio did some more shuffling of their 2023 schedule, which included moving the wide release of the Brad Pitt/Margot Robbie film Babylon to the December 23 date formerly held by Star Trek 4. Their 2024 calendar is already filling up with eight movies now scheduled, including an animated Transformers movie and another Mission: Impossible movie in the summer and a Sonic the Hedgehog movie for the Christmas season. There is still room, as Paramount Pictures CEO Brian Robbins recently committed to releasing up to 15 films each coming year.
Over the summer (before Shakman’s exit), Robbins stated the studio was “deep into it” regarding Abrams’ Star Trek 4 project, adding that they were “close to the starting line” ahead of the announced production in the fall. Obviously they missed that starting line. However, since taking over the studio in 2021, Robbins has been publicly bullish on Star Trek, indicating Paramount was developing a multi-film plan and stating, “Where we go with the franchise next theatrically is crucial to the health of the overall franchise.”
It is now clear that the movie studio is struggling to put a plan into place even as they move forward with their other big film franchises like Transformers and Mission: Impossible. Conversely, on the television side, Paramount+ has five current Star Trek shows running—although, with Picard wrapping up in early 2023, that number will come down unless Paramount+ finally gives the greenlight to one of the multiple Star Trek TV projects in development.
Bonus Zoe: Meeting Nichelle Nichols was “groundbreaking”
EW has released a short excerpt from a new interview with Saldana on YouTube where she talks about what it was like to meet the late Nichelle Nichols.
Keep up with all the news on Star Trek 4 and upcoming Trek films at TrekMovie.com.