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Star Trek 4 Development Details And More

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J.J. Abrams rebooted the "Star Trek" franchise in 2009, and since then, the three films in the new Kelvin timeline have been a smashing success. Altogether, the first "Trek" reboot, 2013's "Star Trek Into Darkness," and 2016's "Star Trek Beyond" have grossed more than a billion dollars at the global box office. They've also done fairly well critically. With all that love, it seems pretty obvious that Hollywood would want to get "Star Trek 4" to theater screens at warp speed.

However, the road to "Star Trek 4" has not been a smooth one. In fact, it's been filled with starts and stops, various creatives coming and going, and a release date that keeps getting beamed all over the place. What do we actually know about the fourth installment of the "Star Trek" reboot series, and what will it look like when it finally makes first contact? Read on for everything we know so far about "Star Trek 4."

What is the release date for Star Trek 4?

"Star Trek 4" has been in the works for a long time ... a really long time. In June 2015, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) had signed up for "Star Trek 4." But Pine and Chris Hemsworth (who was said to be returning as Kirk's dad) allegedly left a potential fourth project over pay disputes in 2018, and in 2019, it was announced that the film had been shelved. Eventually, the project started moving again and earned a release date of June 9, 2023, but that got kicked back to December 22, 2023 ... before vanishing from the release slate completely.

We have reason to believe "Star Trek 4" is still in the works, however. Speaking with Collider, former director Matt Shakman (who left the project to direct "Fantastic Four") said, "I think what they're still working on is a version of what I have been working on for the time that I was involved." In August 2023, Quinto added his own take on the likelihood of a fourth outing. "I think there's a lot of other stuff, creative things. It's complicated," the actor remarked (via TrekMovie.com). He continued, "I don't know if and when it will happen ... And if coalesces again and we come back and we're able to do it, wonderful. If not, we had a great run."

In a September 2023 piece on the end of the Writers Guild of America strike, Variety reported that Paramount was looking to polish a "Star Trek 4" script. Another promising nugget of info emerged around this time, when writer-director Lindsey Anderson Beer, who co-wrote a prospective "Star Trek 4" script, told Collider, "It's still on the tracks." So, "Star Trek 4" isn't dead in the water, and with the 2023 Hollywood strikes ended, a major obstacle is gone. But that's pretty much all we know.

What is the plot of Star Trek 4?

At this point, no plot details for the upcoming fourth "Star Trek" movie have been revealed. Some proposed paths forward have been rumored to involve alternate timelines, or even another reboot — especially Tarantino's attempt — but they've all fallen by the wayside. For now, we can probably assume "Star Trek 4" will take place after the events of 2016's "Star Trek Beyond," which was directed by Justin Lin of the "Fast and Furious" franchise.

In "Star Trek Beyond," Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise see their beloved ship crash on the planet Altamid after an ambush by a pre-Federation human soldier, Idris Elba's Captain Balthazar Edison. When Kirk and the gang discover Edison's plans to use an ancient bioweapon to destroy the Federation, they're forced to stop him — without the help of their ship. That film also explores the death of Leonard Nimoy's Ambassador Spock, as well as relationship troubles between Spock and Uhura.

One story we know "Star Trek 4" won't be exploring is a reunion between Captain Kirk and his father George, courtesy of time travel. Chris Hemsworth briefly played George Kirk in 2009's "Star Trek," but turned down a chance to reprise the role in a bigger story in 2018. "Star Trek 4" also won't tie into any of the current "Star Trek" TV series, like "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" or "Star Trek: Lower Decks." Those series take place in a universe separate from the Kelvin timeline.

Who is starring in Star Trek 4?

You'd expect a "Star Trek" movie set in the Kelvin timeline to feature the return of the ol' gang, right? Why, yes, you would. However, nothing has been easy about getting "Star Trek 4" off the ground, and that includes bringing back the original cast. In 2018, Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth reportedly walked away from the project over pay disputes. In February 2022, when producer J.J. Abrams announced that "Star Trek 4" was finally moving ahead, new behind-the-scenes drama erupted. While Abrams said the original stars were returning, none of the actors had officially agreed to the project.

In March 2022, Pine told Variety about his reaction to the "Star Trek 4" announcement: "I think everybody was like, 'Did you hear about this?' We're usually the last people to find out, but I do know we're all excited. Whenever they want to send us a script, we're ready for it." Karl Urban had a similar stance, telling the U.K.'s Radio X (via TrekMovie.com) in May 2022, "I have heard that it is happening, but I've been hearing that for the last three years ... All I know is they are developing it, they're writing a script, and I know 100% that we all want to come back and do it. So I think it's all just a matter of logistics and timing at this point."

Sofia Boutella — who played Jaylah in "Star Trek Beyond" — also expressed interest in returning, saying (via Fandom Spotlite), "I would love to see [Jaylah] evolve with all of the guys ... I would do it in a heartbeat." However, Zachary Quinto seems a bit wary of the whole thing. During a November 2022 interview with The Independent, the actor said, "At this point, I honestly have very little attachment to it. All of us would like to come back and make another movie, but I've learnt to only get excited about things I know are actually real. And there's nothing about a fourth 'Star Trek' movie that feels real right now."

Will Star Trek 4 recast Chekov?

One of the most classic and beloved "Star Trek" characters, Pavel Chekov was memorably played in the first three Kelvin timeline movies by Anton Yelchin. Yelchin was killed in a car accident in June 2016, just one month before the release of "Star Trek Beyond." His passing has definitely been felt by both fans and his "Star Trek" cohorts.

In March 2022, when the movie was still moving forward under director Matt Shakman, Uhura actress Zoe Saldaña told Entertainment Tonight about the project. "Obviously, it's bittersweet," she remarked, "because we are coming together for a fourth time and one of us is no longer with us with Anton's passing, but we honestly feel that going back and keeping the 'Star Trek' family together is a way to really keep him alive in our thoughts and our hearts because he was such a fan. And he was such a devoted artist to the craft and also to 'Star Trek.'"

Of course, that particular version of "Star Trek 4" is no longer moving forward, but if you think Saldaña's comments indicate that Paramount won't be recasting the part of Chekov, you're probably right. In a 2016 interview with Postmedia Network, shortly after Yelchin's death, producer J.J. Abrams explained, "I would say there's no replacing him. There's no recasting. I can't possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better."

Granted, emotions were high when Abrams said they wouldn't replace Yelchin. However, there's been no indication in the years since the actor's death that a new Chekov will show up on the bridge of the Enterprise.

Who is directing Star Trek 4?

Perhaps the main reason that "Star Trek 4" hasn't happened yet is that Paramount Pictures is having a difficult time finding a director. For a moment, it looked like Quentin Tarantino was going to boldly go where he'd never gone before. J.J. Abrams was super excited about Tarantino's time-traveling concept of sending Kirk and co. to a world of 1930s gangsters, similar to the classic "Trek" episode "A Piece of the Action." Screenwriter Mark L. Smith of "The Revenant" fame was set to pen the script, but sadly for Trekkies who wanted to see Spock quoting Ezekiel 25:17, Tarantino's vision never came to pass.

Then, it looked like S.J. Clarkson was going to make history as the first woman to helm a "Star Trek" movie. But after Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth left the project in 2018, the movie was subsequently shelved. Noah Hawley of "Fargo" fame was also working on a "Star Trek" movie — one that would've been about a brand new group of heroes — but Paramount eventually stepped in and shut things down because it wouldn't have featured the famous Enterprise crew.

The closest that "Star Trek 4" has come to happening was when Matt Shakman took the captain's seat. After he directed the entirety of the smash hit MCU series "WandaVision," the world was Shakman's oyster, and he intended to shepherd the newest entry in the "Star Trek" universe to theater screens. However, Marvel Studios was keen on working with Shakman again, and after director Jon Watts decided to step away from 2025's "Fantastic Four," the folks at Marvel asked Shakman to come back to the MCU — which he did. As a result, at the moment, "Star Trek 4" is floating through space without a captain.

Where to watch the previous Star Trek movies

While we all wait for news about "Star Trek 4," it might be a good time to go back and revisit previous installments in the "Star Trek" reboot series. If you want to watch the film that started it all and introduced us to new versions of Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and the rest of the Enterprise crew, you can stream 2009's "Star Trek" on Paramount+. You can also rent it for $3.99 on Google PlayAmazon Prime Video, Apple iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube.

If you're ready for the 2013 sequel where Benedict Cumberbatch definitely doesn't play Khan Noonien Singh, you can stream "Star Trek Into Darkness" on Paramount+. You can also rent it for $3.99 on Google Play, Apple iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube. Amazon Prime Video offers it for $4.29. If you're looking for the third film, where our heroes learn the true power of the Beastie Boys, you can stream "Star Trek Beyond" on Paramount+. You can also rent it for $2.69 on Google Play and $3.99 on Amazon Video, Apple iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube.