Star Trek is doing pretty good in television right now, but film is another matter entirely. Despite Paramount’s best efforts to get another film off the ground, there hasn’t been a theatrical release since 2016's Star Trek Beyond. That’s all set to change—probably—with Star Trek 4, with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and the rest of the living cast set to return as their respective roles they first inhabited back in 2009.
While speaking to Deadline about his two newest films, The Contractor and All the Old Knives, Pine briefly touched on the still pretty surprising news that a fourth film featuring the Enterprise crew from the Kelvin timeline was happening after Beyond was considered something of a dud at $343.5 million. While he “really likes” director Matt Shankman and the folks over at Paramount, it’s the lack of a script that’s truly tripping him up after the film’s sudden confirmation. Still, he stressed that he does love playing James T. Kirk and Star Trek overall, and would be fine coming back. “It cemented the career that I have now,” said Pine. “I’m honored to be a part of it...I think there are plenty of stories to tell in it.”
More interestingly, Pine opined that the biggest thing holding these films back was Paramount’s desire to make them into massive, juggernaut-sized successes on the level of Marvel or even the studio’s own Mission: Impossible series. “It was always this billion-dollar mark because Marvel was making a billion...we’ve definitely done a good job of it but not the billion-dollar kind of job that they want.” It’s a critique that really stuck with the first two films, but many found Beyond be a better movie because it felt like plain old Star Trek. He added that boldly going forward, Star Trek should stick to what it’s good at, making films that appeal to its fans and using those veterans to draw in newcomers. ”Let’s make the movie for the people that love this group of people, that love this story, that love Star Trek...if people want to come to the party, great.”
But more than anything, Pine believes that these movies shouldn’t be made with some absurd budget. Later in the interview, he talked about how Blumhouse has managed to succeed financially with their modestly budgeted films like the recent Invisible Man reboot and the Purge series. Horror is arguably an easier genre to pull off than sci-fi with less money, but he’s still certain the action film industry could learn something from horror since in his words, “Those films make a lot of fucking money.” While it wouldn’t be an easy fix for every franchise, it would at least be more reasonable than trying to constantly go big and chase after Marvel, only to come up short. “Make it for a price and then market it really well,” said Pine. “It seems to be this great niche market that could be exploited that could be really cool.”
Pine’s right when he talks about how trying to chase after the financial success that Marvel’s earned hasn’t really worked out for several studios. (Some of which are still trying, despite failing the first time.) Its multitude of shows out right now hitting different demographics underline how highlight how Star Trek hits a particular sweet spot that other big sci-fi franchises aren’t interested in or unable to. (You don’t see Star Wars letting an anthropomorphic version of its various insignias become delightfully kill crazy holograms, I’m just saying.) If the franchise is to have any real hope succeeding as films again, it may be time to go back to basics and do what it does best: be about good looking people traveling the galaxy and being pretty damn good at their jobs.
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