Paramount this week confirmed that WandaVision director Matt Shakman will begin production on a new Star Trek movie later this year, which will star Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho and Simon Pegg will reprise her roles for a fourth time Go-Around on the big screen. For Quentin Tarantino fans, the news is the latest reminder that the Oscar-winner’s ‘Stark Trek’ remains dead. At least for now.
Tarantino fans were sent into a frenzy in late 2017 after it was revealed that Paramount and “Star Trek” producer JJ Abrams loved Tarantino’s pitch for a new “Star Trek” movie and were putting together a writers’ room to flesh out the idea. Tarantino ended up working with The Revenant screenwriter Mark L. Smith, who was hired to write a Star Trek screenplay based on Tarantino’s idea while Tarantino was busy completing post-production and preparing for ” Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” to tour the world ” .”
Smith revealed on the Bulletproof screenwriting Podcast in August 2021 that JJ Abrams’ production company Bad Robot called him on Tarantino’s behalf.
“They just called me and said, ‘Hey, are you ready for this? Do you want to go? Quentin wants to meet up. ‘ And I said, ‘Yes,'” the screenwriter said. “And that was the first day I met Quentin in the room and he reads a scene that he wrote and it was this great cool gangster scene and he acts it back and forth. I told him I was so angry I didn’t record it on my phone. It would be so valuable. It was wonderful. “
Tarantino intended Star Trek to have a “pulp fiction” vibe, with an idea that was a largely earth-based story set in a 1930s gangster setting. Tarantino’s pitch appeared to be inspired by “A Piece of the Action,” episode 17 of the second season of Star Trek: The Original Series. The installation, which aired in 1968, followed the Enterprise crew as they visited a planet with a 1920s Earth-like gangster culture.
Smith told me Bulletproof screenwriting that the screenwriting process began almost immediately after he agreed to work with Tarantino, adding, “I would hang out at his house one night and we would watch old gangster movies. We just sat back and watched gangster movies, laughed at the bad dialogue but talked about how it would flow into what we wanted to do.”
According to Smith, Tarantino’s Star Trek idea was “really wild” and like “its own very cool episode.” The plot included “a bit of time travel stuff” and “had a lot of fun” with Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk. Tarantino fans expected the director to dwell on Pine given Tarantino’s outspoken love for the actor. Tarantino has named “Unstoppable” starring Pine as one of his favorite action films, and he had nothing but raves about Pine’s performance as Kirk in the 2009 reboot of “Star Trek.”
“I thought Chris Pine did a fantastic job not just playing Capt. But Kirk plays William Shatner’s captain — he’s William Shatner,” Tarantino once told MTV. “He’s not just any guy, he’s William Shatner’s Capt. Church. And Zachary Quinto is literally Leonard Nimoys – because they both have the same scene together – he’s his Spock. You fucking nail it. They just get to the point.”
It was widely believed that Tarantino’s “Star Trek” was rated R, although this has never been confirmed. Fans expected the R rating given the graphic nature of Tarantino’s films. It was also never confirmed that Tarantino would direct the script himself. Tarantino has claimed he’s retiring from feature films after his 10th directing stint, meaning he only has one film left to do after Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Fans wondered whether or not Tarantino wanted an IP-based movie like Star Trek as his curtain call.
Tarantino announced to Consequence of Sound in December 2019 that he was “walking away” from directing the “Trek” movie. A final blow came in January 2020, when Tarantino confirmed, “I think they could do this movie, but I just don’t think I’m going to direct it. It is a good idea. They should definitely do it and I’m happy to stop by and give them some notes on the first rough cut.”
After Justin Lin’s 2016 entry “Star Trek Beyond” undershot at less than $400 million worldwide at the box office, Paramount put the film franchise on hiatus as it figured out what to do next. Tarantino and Smith’s screenplay was one of three potential “Star Trek” films in development at the same time. Noah Hawley, creator of Fargo and Legion, was working on his own Star Trek film, which would feature a new cast, while Paramount was also developing a more traditional sequel to Beyond with the same cast. Filmmaker SJ Clarkson clung to this third “Trek” idea for a while.
This week’s Star Trek announcement confirmed that a Beyond sequel starring the returning cast is officially in the pipeline. Paramount announced in July 2021 that Shakman had been hired to direct a new Star Trek film, the cast of which was unclear at the time. Shakman is a prolific television director with credits including WandaVision, Six Feet Under, House, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Game of Thrones and Succession. He has only directed one previous feature film, the 2015 indie film Cut Bank starring Liam Hemsworth and Billy Bob Thornton.
As reported by diversity, Paramount conducted market research to determine whether there was still audience interest in Chris Pine and the 2009 cast given the long wait between Beyond and a new Trek movie. Insiders said that studio management noted that there was still an ongoing audience enthusiasm for Pine, Quinto and the rest of the cast, which allowed the studio to feel comfortable about bringing them back.
One person most likely relieved that Paramount is pushing ahead with a Star Trek movie without Tarantino is Rod Roddenberry, son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment. Roddenberry, who serves as executive producer on several “Star Trek” series on Paramount Plus (“Star Trek: Discovery”, “Star Trek: Picard”, “Star Trek: Lower Decks”, etc.), told Forbes in September 2021 that he had mixed feelings about Tarantino joining the Star Trek group.
“I struggle with that because I’m pretty myopic about how I view ‘Star Trek,'” Roddenberry said when asked about Tarantino’s ‘Star Trek’ idea. “I mentioned growing up with fans who would come up to me and say how ‘Star Trek’ had inspired them and given them hope for the future. It’s the optimism and messages within that make Star Trek what it was. I really think so. When you create a ‘Star Trek’ it’s just action; this is not ‘Star Trek’ in my opinion. It’s different from Star Wars, and I love Star Wars, but the two can coexist. And I love Tarantino’s work and the kind of films he makes. I try to be open.”
Roddenberry continued, “I would be curious to read a script about his attitude. I don’t think you can say that we’re going to do a Reservoir Dog – Star Trek. I’ll be honest it doesn’t work for me, but he’s a fan and I think as a fan he probably understands to some degree that ‘Star Trek’ has to have some of that message.”
Production on the new Star Trek movie, minus Tarantino, will begin later this year.