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Star Trek 4 - What We Know So Far

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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, so 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. Instead, it's one filled with starts and stops, various creatives coming and going, and a release date that keeps getting beamed all over the place. So 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? Well, 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." For context, Barack Obama was still president, the MCU's Phase 3 hadn't kicked off yet, and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was still months away from hitting theaters and becoming the highest-grossing movie of the year.

All this time later and there's still no sign of "Star Trek 4." Pine and Chris Hemsworth (who was returning as Kirk's dad) allegedly left a potential fourth project over pay disputes in 2018 (via The Hollywood Reporter), and in 2019, it was announced that the film had been shelved (via Deadline). Eventually, the project started moving again and earned a release date of June 9, 2023, but that eventually got kicked back to December 22, 2023 ... before vanishing from the release slate completely.

In other words, we have no idea when "Star Trek 4" will be released. But we do have reason to believe it's still in the works. 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." With that, it seems that the Enterprise is still heading to theaters, although we have no clue when the ship will fly back onto the big screen.

What is the plot of Star Trek 4?

At this point, no plot details for the upcoming fourth "Star Trek" movie have been revealed, but we'd assume it will take place after the events of 2016's "Star Trek Beyond," which was directed by Justin Lin ("The Fast and the Furious" franchise).

In "Star Trek Beyond," Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise see their beloved ship crashed on the planet Altamid, after an ambush by a pre-Federation human soldier, Idris Elba's Captain Balthazar Edison. When Kirk and the gang discovered 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 saw the death of Leonard Nimoy's Ambassador Spock, as well as the end of the relationship between Spock and Uhuru.

One story we know "Star Trek 4" won't be exploring is a reunion between Captain Kirk and his father George involving 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 (via ​​Digital Spy). "Star Trek 4" also won't tie into any of the current TV series about Star Trek, like "Star Trek Picard" or "Star Trek Below Decks," as 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 — 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, that also brought along its own behind-the-scenes drama. According to Variety, while Abrams said the original stars were returning, none of the actors had officially agreed to the project — which, you know, seems like a pretty important step in getting the movie made.

When discussing the film, the various stars all seem to have the same "sure, it would be fun, but I'll believe it when I see it" attitude. In March 2022, Pine told Variety about his reaction to the "Star Trek 4" announcement, saying, "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 love to go back to her, I love her a lot. I have enjoyed that experience a lot. 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 behind Spock said of the series, "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 quintessential original "Star Trek" members, Pavel Chekov was memorably played by Anton Yelchin. Of course, Yelchin was tragically killed in a horrible car accident in June 2016, just a month before the release of "Star Trek Beyond." His passing has definitely been felt — not just by fans but by 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 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. According to Variety, 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 "Original Series" episode called "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 (who directed episodes of "Heroes," "Dexter," "Succession," and "Jessica Jones") 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 (via Deadline).

The closest that "Star Trek 4" has come to happening was when Matt Shakman took the captain's seat. After directing the entirety of "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 the 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 $2.99 on Google Play or $3.99 on Amazon 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 $2.99 on Google Play or $3.99 on Amazon Video, Apple iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube. And if you're ready 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 this one for $2.99 on Google Play and $3.99 on Amazon Video, Apple iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube.