‘Picard’ Makeup Designer Reveals ‘Star Trek 4’ Pre-Production Shut Down In 2022 Over Script Issues

With the big Picard Legacy Blu-ray box set coming next week, the TrekMovie All Access Podcast team had a chance to speak to Emmy-winning makeup designer James MacKinnon about his work on the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard. We will be posting the full interview in the coming days. During our chat, MacKinnon veered away from the subject of Picard into the on-again/off-again Star Trek 4 project at Paramount Pictures.

MacKinnnon talks Star Trek 4 start-and-stop in 2022

Early in James MacKinnon’s career, he began working as a prosthetics makeup artist on Star Trek. He garnered his first (of thirteen) Emmy nominations for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in 1997, working under the legendary Michael Westmore. He has since worked on Trek feature films (including First Contact and the 2009 Star Trek movie) as well as multiple Trek TV shows (including Discovery and Picard). When asked if he expects to work on any upcoming Trek TV shows, he said he doesn’t expect to work on either the Section 31 movie or the Starfleet Academy series, primarily due to the costs involved in bringing him and his Los Angeles-based team into those Toronto productions, but he made clear he was interested, saying “If they don’t cry poor, I’ll work on another Star Trek show.”

Zoe Saldana, Chris Pine, and an alien from 2009 Star Trek movie (Paramount)

MacKinnon then revealed he is still hoping to work on new Star Trek, but back on the big screen, revealing he had been set to work on Star Trek 4:

“Maybe the Star Trek feature with Chris Pine comes back in the mix, if they can get that thing written… I was hired for one week, and then I was fired, because that shut down. But maybe that happens again. Well, we’ll see. I don’t know… We were getting ready to start prepping that movie, Star Trek 4.”

MacKinnon confirmed he was hired to work on the most recent iteration of the Star Trek feature film set in the Kelvin universe while Matt Shakman was still the director, working under producer J.J. Abrams. The makeup designer explained what happened:

“We were supposed to shoot in the middle of [2022] and it was supposed to come out the following year [2023], but I think a script rewrite went in a different direction.”

Shakman exited the project in August of 2022. While aligning the busy schedules of all the actors has often been cited as the big reason for the film’s delay, MacKinnon’s comment about a script rewrite is more evidence that there have been additional creative issues plaguing the production, possibly leading to Shakman’s exit to go work on Marvel’s upcoming Fantastic 4 movie. Late last year, actress Zoe Saldaña (Uhura) suggested the delay was more than just schedules, saying “it probably has something else to do with the project,” and over the summer, actor Zachary Quinto (Spock) also cited “different agendas” were holding back Star Trek 4.

More recently, Lindsey Beer (who co-wrote the first draft) said the project was “still on the tracks” at Paramount, and Variety has reported that Paramount hopes to get the film “quickly” back into pre-production pending some more script “fine-tuning” after the WGA strike wrapped up earlier this month.

James MacKinnon and Doug Jones as Saru - Star Trek: Discovery season 1

James MacKinnon working with Doug Jones (Saru) on Star Trek: Discovery (Paramount+)

Maybe MacKinnon will get his wish if the project gets going again. After winning 5 Emmys and running his own makeup and prosthetics business, doing another feature film is the one thing he hopes to tick off his Star Trek bucket list:

“I think that movie [Star Trek 4] would be the only thing. I don’t know what else I could do. I’m retiring in seven years anyway so I’m going to give my knowledge to these young kids, which is what Mike Westmore did to me when I first started with him back in the day. So it’s my turn to give back and teach the young kids what I can’t take with me and let them ride the wave. When I was younger those were the artists were who I wanted to be and now these young kids want to be me. I guess, if that makes sense? Yeah, you can’t take it with you.”

Picard Legacy box set arrives next week

The Star Trek: The Picard Legacy Collection arrives on November 7. It is described as “the definitive release for Next Generation fans.” The limited edition set includes 54 individually numbered Blu-ray discs and unique packaging that houses every TV series and film featuring Jean-Luc Picard. That includes 7 seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, 3 seasons of Picard, and the 4 TNG feature films along with over 35 hours of special features. This limited set also includes an exclusive edition of The Wisdom of Picard featuring brand new artwork and quotes, along with a one-of-a-kind deck of playing cards, a magnet sheet featuring all of Captain Picard’s badges and four custom Chateau Picard drink coasters.

It is available now for pre-order at Amazon for $199.95.

Picard Legacy Collection

Here is what’s included…

  •  All Series and Films Featuring Captain Jean-Luc Picard
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation – Seasons 1-7
    • Star Trek: Picard – Seasons 1-3
    • Star Trek: Generations
    • Star Trek: First Contact
    • Star Trek: Insurrection
    • Star Trek: Nemesis
  • 35 hours of bonus features
  • Premium Packaging Containing 54 Blu-ray Discs, 154 Episodes and Exclusive Collectables
  • Exclusive Collectables:
    • Magnetic Captain Picard Badges
    • 4 Custom Chateau Picard Drink Coasters
    • Custom Deck of Playing Cards
    • Exclusive Version of The Wisdom of Picard, The Wisdom of Picard: The Legacy Collection Edition
      • Featuring New Cover Art
      • Including quotes from the latest seasons of Star Trek: Picard

Look for more from James MacKinnon about Star Trek: Picard soon here on TrekMovie.com and on the All Access Podcast.

Keep up with news about the Star Trek Universe at TrekMovie.com

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The Picard Legacy box is nice and all, but ultimately just a repackaging of existing available discs with some new physical printed items that could be easily done, obviously.

What might have made it really special was if they used the opportunity doing this set provides to remaster Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s premiere episode “Emissary”, since it also has Picard in it and is the character’s single canon on-screen appearance that’s not included here. Then, after a period of being exclusive to the Legacy box, they could release an “Emissary” Blu-ray on its own, like how they did “The Best of Both Worlds”, “Redemption”, “Unification”, “Chain of Command”, and “All Good Things…”, but oh well…

I wish they had done just that. But they seem determined not to take that step.

I still say that if they crowd-funded it, remastering all 14 seasons of DS9 and Voyager would be paid-for within a month. :-) Alas, I’m sure legalities prevent that. But it remains a constant burr in every Trek-fan’s saddle…

We’re talking about a cost of at least $10M. Do you really think this can be collected in a month?

Here’s an old petition of DS9/VOY remaster, got only 118 signatures in 3 years: https://www.change.org/p/cbs-hd-remaster-star-trek-deep-space-nine-and-star-trek-voyager


They said, “No, no, no. We’re going to make a 150 in 30 days.” Then in 29 hours, we made like 159,000.

Crowdfunding? That’s not something major studios do. It would be a logistical nightmare and a legal near-impossibility. Also, there’s no way it would raise even close to the amount of money needed.

They can’t fully remaster DS9 due to how the show was recorded. I’ve seen some of the attempts, and all have tons of pull down and tearing.

I don’t understand. The show originated on 35mm, so how would the process be any different than what happened on TNG (outside of the issue with so many VFX in the last couple seasons being CG instead of the usual.)

It isn’t that it can’t be done its the millions of dollars it will cost. They claimed TNG cost somewhere between 10 and 20 million to remaster. Video sales never came close.

The problem was that the 35mm film elements were edited together on super VHS for TV. That’s why the TNG bluray effort was basically redoing the episode from scratch and it had to match the original. It wasn’t just special effects. Allegedly Babylon 5 had 35mm archive masters of the completed televised product. Maybe star trek did too – but that would be inferior than redoing the all the editing from the original elements for bluray quality. Maybe that’s how the DVD was scanned.

It was filmed on 35mm motion picture film like every season of Star trek up until the last two seasons of Enterprise which were HDCAM 1080P. Fan restorations are using the DVD video and ai to upscale, of course it looks like a smeary mess.

Paramount probably wanted to include some multiverse stuff after seeing how huge Spiderman NWH and Dr Strange 2 were and it all fell apart

Better to bite the bullet early rather than pull the plug later after more $ got spent.

There was a Travolta/Polanski picture in the 90s that basically imploded the day before shooting began, after 18 million or more was spent on elaborate sets and prep, because Travolta just up and flew back to the states w/o warning (he was kinda put out about getting line readings from the director in rehearsals, something that didn’t ever even bother Harrison Ford, because Polanski gives good line readings; the director later mused that perhaps nobody ever actually gave Travolta direction in other roles,owing to fear of the big ego going out of joint.)

Because Travolta eventually agreed after a lot of lawyering stuff to do another movie for the company, they wound up just putting all the blame on Polanski, who (for once anyway, the otherwise miserable creep) wasn’t really at fault and had put nearly three years into setting the film up, and a statement went out that Travolta was dealing with a family illness and had to bow out. Odd little footnote: the film crew was so disappointed at the movie not happening that they stayed a day at no charge to film the scenes that were supposed to be Travolta and his doppleganger, but shot that with Polanski in both roles, as a kind of present to him. Producers didn’t know what to make of that, because it didn’t cost them anything so they couldn’t stop it from happening, since the sets didn’t get torn down till the next day.

Only Travolta anecdote I have from personal experience was when I wrote for Cinefex. I was assigned the BATTLEFIELD EARTH story, and right off the bat, the first interview I had was with a vfx guy, very eccentric, long dead now but always a total straight shooter with me, who said we probably shouldn’t even be covering the movie! He then backed it up with some stories. Then another party I called also seemed rather untalkative, so I told the bosses and they decided to shelve the story.

Following week, I am working on another story, about THE CELL I think, and we get word that if we put the story back into active file, they’ll put Travolta on the phone to be part of the story. Bosses get starstruck like anybody else, so suddenly they’re telling me I need to interview Travolta, but not to worry about the article (I had already written an 800-word intro concerning the l-o-n-g history of getting the film made, going back to Ken Annakin as director and Abraham Polonsky writing, which they used verbatim after giving the story to the publisher’s wife to finish), just get this done. Travolta was totally polite during the brief interview, but any time I asked about anything that might have generated something other than a PR puff piece answer, he’d start talking about how much he respected the magazine instead of answering. The third time that happened, I knew the game was over, so I just wrapped it up and moved back to THE CELL.

In retrospect, I wish I had known about the Polanski story back then, just so I could have Harlan Ellison’d it up and wrapped things with, ‘so was the reason you bailed on THE DOUBLE because Polanski laughed out loud at you while asking how you could believe in any of that Scientology crap?’ (never woulda happened, but it’s fun to imagine.)

!!! Funny.

But wait, Boring One told all of us the next movie has never go to pre-production?

Splitting hairs? Technically, I suppose a movie is in pre-production if a writer’s working on a story somewhere. That this guy drew one check doesn’t mean much in the broader picture….

If a greenlight and pre production meant anything i could watch Orci’s Star trek III. I could watch Star Wars Duel of the Fates.

Pity both those didn’t happen instead of what was done especially Orcis ST3

I’m always in awe of the makeup on these productions.

Once I had to find a great prosthetics Hollywood makeup artist for a shoot well over a decade ago, where the makeup effect was the star of the production. My very first instinct was of course to reach out to anyone who had worked on Star Trek. I started with the movies like TUC or people who had been underlings on the Berman shows. At one point though I was in touch with Michael Westmore’s agent, and she happily offered him up as an option in his semi-retirement, one I damned well took. The man was an absolute delight, and I had a blast talking about the various effects he did from TNG through Enterprise. If he didn’t enjoy talking with me he did it well. The project turned out beautifully, but all I took away from it was the joy of meeting him.

Great story. It’s like when you get upgraded for free at the car rental place. You were expecting a Nissan Altima and they give you a Range Rover Sport.

This is the LEGACY release.

Done, now time to move on.

Yup, you definitely should move on.

Those weren’t the droids I was looking for.

After so many problems to deliver a script I predict that ChatGPT is gonna write it.

It has probably already been tried, and almost certainly found wanting, though executives must love how it takes notes without complaining or walking off the project (and then discovered just how hurtful their own notes are to their own project. ‘Fruits of unskilled labor,’ y’know?)

I honestly think the ‘ticking off boxes/committee effect’ treatment has really hurt TREK projects down through the years, so ChatGPT is absolutely the wrong way to do Trek. From the way people have reported the results, it sounds like the opposite of what image-of-Surak sez in THE SAVAGE CURTAIN, “May we together become greater than the sum of both of us.”

And yeah, I’m seriously worried about how it is going to hit journalists. It is embarrassing when months after doing interviews, you find that a key interviewee essentially gave the same responses to other outlets — it looks like whoever’s story arrived last just cutNpasted from an early arrival. And it extends out in other ways. When I was at Cinefex, we were supposed to get a custom exclusive cover for MISSION TO MARS, and they were already in layout when I saw a preview of AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER’s cover on the same film — exact same ‘custom exclusive’ image.We wound up using a pretty lousy alternate (to be fair, that mag often chose lousy cover images, usually picking monsters over spaceships, as if we were catering to the FANGORIA crowd.)

The last couple of decades have slid heavily toward puff PR stories anyway, and the next step — if it hasn’t already been taken — would be studio PR generating press kits with ChatGPT and then passing them off to outlets as ‘use this if you want a story.’ Nearly every place I’ve written for let me send backreads through to interviewees before publication so they could make sure I got it all correct, though occasionally we’d get controlling types who wanted to rewrite all the quotes and even change the spin rather than simply correct missing or inaccurate bits. It was a pain to deal with but also let us know which folks to go to and which to avoid in future stories.

“He who controls the spin controls the universe,” as Baron Harkonnen very nearly said decades back.

I’ve been accused in responses to multiple think pieces/short blog posts this year of using ChatGPT to write. I’ve never used it, other than as an experiment — I think I write better than ChatGPT, and that you can still spot ChatGPT writing from a mile away. It’s generic “compare and contrast” that you get from high school students or, at best, early undergrads.

That might change, of course. But it’s not a replacement for human writers *if you want a polished product that gets noticed*.

Maybe it was a beta version of ChatGPT that produced the last one that mercifully died…..

Is the “Star Trek 4” referenced here the Kirk and Dad story, or something else? I’ve completely lost track at this point.

that was the previous version by the LoTR showrunners (to be directed by SJ Clarkson) George Kirk ‘Relics’ himself in the transporter. Its never leaked out what the Shakman ST4 was about

Would really still like to know more about the Noah Hawley Trek project, especially since it didn’t seem to revolve around (or maybe even include) legacy characters. A story strong enough to stand on its own without unnecessary tie-ins sounds strong enough to still film, even years later.

Then again, I spent decades drooling over how good PLANET OF TITANS might have been, but when I finally got to read most of Kaufman’s treatment (which was done after the UK writers left and departed in many ways from the account as told in TMOST-TMP), it was surprising terrible, as in, we were better off with TMP despite its many fails.

I read just other day somewhere but can’t remember where, mightve even been on TM, that Hawleys script was definitely set in the primeverse , and a couple years or so ago it came out it was centred around a pandemic (written before covid 19 struck) and that the new Paramount regime dropped it part bc of that, also Hawleys movie inexperience (and Lucy in the Sky), and as you say it not featuring any recognisable Trek characters (so would’ve been an all new cast of characters, the main ones probably of the Issacs/Yeoh level of movie recognition )

I’m VERY curious as to what Shakmans ST4 was about..(and why it fell apart when it looked like it was actually going to happen/was announced by JJ at that shareholders conference)

I enjoy Shakman’s WANDAVISION more than most people, so on that basis alone I was intrigued by his involvement, but when he jumped ship to FANTASTIC FOUR it made me think this project must be in serious trouble if he went THERE (FF has got a pretty rocky history with respect to movies, like a slow-motion, decades-longer process than TMP.) He has also worked on some GODZILLA related tv series that is supposed to be coming out soon, but that doesn’t carry much weight or interest for me.

Shakmans involvement in WV which dealt which multiple eras of TV history made me think that was perhaps why he was chosen for ST4, if it was going to somehow deal with multiple eras of Trek/different styles of Trek history (60s,80s,90s) but who knows

I thought it was going to be crap but i really loved the trailer for Monarch Legacy of Monsters. Not like the biggest fan of Legendary’s version of those properties. To be clear i prefer classic Toho Godzilla and the original King Kong, not the remakes. But it still looks like a good sci fi show.

You’d think a Star Trek film would have been right up his alley having made the excellent the Right Stuf. But everything i have read about that story was terrible. The only thing that sounded awesome was Mifune as a Klingon.

Part of the problem was that Kaufman tried to infuse the story with echoes of Olaf Stapledon’s work — but TREK already had its own unique triad mythology, which is given pretty short shrift in the treatment. In that sense it was like JJ and his cohorts trying to use traditional SW/Campbell mythology in the 09, instead of respecting what was uniquely compelling about the original recipe and winding up only paying it lip service or make it pastiche-y.

And I gotta say, the Klingon doesn’t come off all that interesting either. It might have been that he thought Mifune would elevate the material just with his presence, the way Max Von Sydow nearly always does, but I didn’t see anything special on the page, plus the key relationship is between klingon and spock, not Kirk, which again seemed to be through the wrong end of the lens (maybe trying to show contrasts from pacifist vegetarian to meat-eating warrior?)

Does it matter? It’s still dead.

Quinto’s theory seems to me to be the most probable reason for the delay.

yes. so much for my theory.. im still waiting to hear Quinto’s

A fourth Kevinverse movie is not happening. “Differing agendas” probably means the studio brass isn’t aligned on making an investment in continuing this particular series.

Paramount does need to reinvest in cinema-format Star Trek though. We are long overdue for something.

It’ll be the 60th anniversary.. Kelvin or Prime ..or both!

EXCLUSIVE: Leaked rejected story synopsis.

Pew-pew-pew-pew, EXPLOSIONS!!! Lens flairs, Kirk yells SPOOOOOCK, more lens flairs, running through the corridors, more lens flairs, They meet the new villain named K____ and comes from the 2_ century who has come for vengeance against the Federation, EXPLOSIONS, more lens flairs, Spock gets very emotional, Chris Hemsworth cameo dream appearance (woah), generic aliens show up, Enterprise gets beaten in a fight against a really really big ship, more lens flairs, Sulu has 8 lines, pew-pew-pew-pew, entire solar system is wiped out for reasons, Uhura wears her ‘Im not having it today’ face, Bones throws out funny metaphors, EXPLOSIONS, more lens flairs, Scotty has some funny moments, “IT’S A SAAAAABOTAGE”, Spock and Uhura fights but gets back together at the end, Kirk does a space jump, pew-pew-pew-pew, people fighting everywhere, EXPLOSIONS, Enterprise almost gets destroyed but is OK, more lens flairs, they ban together to defeat the villain who is revealed to be someone’s relative (plot twist), San Francisco is saved yet again, more lens flairs, Kirk smiles at everyone on the bridge and Enterprise warps out. Cue theme song, one more lens flair and credits!

Wait I don’t think I included the story…actually it doesn’t really matter, you get the gist like the last 3 movies. No wonder it was rejected. 😉

‘Star Trek: Revenge and Explosions’ coming to a cinema next summer (maybe)

Bro how did I not come up with such an awesome title for a JJ verse movie??

You should try and get it trademarked before Paramount sees this post and slap it on the next movie around 2028.

I smell an Oscar……

Yeah…in the mirror universe! 😂

Now, now. You forgot Keenser.

James could do my makeup any time! What a hottie!

Don’t give me hope. This movie is never happening. How many times have i been fooled since 2016. I mean we had the 10th anniversary of Into Darkness this year and they’ve only made a trilogy of films. Since 2009. It clearly has never been a priority. How many Transformers movies and MI movies have been made in the same time.

Many more, but there’s a substantial difference: TF’s and MI made a helluva lot more money.

Since 09 they’ve made 4 MIs (plus another incoming), and 6 TFs

There should really have been a further 2 Treks (2019 and maybe this year)

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