I’m a bit late to the party on this one, so you’ve probably already heard the news that a new Star Trek film is being worked on over at ViacomCBS/Paramount Pictures. It’s still interesting, though, so let’s take a moment to consider what it could be and what its inception may mean for the rest of the franchise.
Firstly, it now seems certain that the other Star Trek film projects that had been announced or discussed publicly are not happening. We should never say “never,” of course, and it’s not impossible that they may be revived in future, but for now it seems that the unified Star Trek team (working together since the 2019 merger that created ViacomCBS and reunited Star Trek’s film and television licenses) has decided to drop those projects and go in a different direction.
The three films we knew about were: a fourth Kelvin-timeline film, a project that had been pitched by Quentin Tarantino, and a project by Fargo television series co-creator Noah Hawley that was supposedly ready-to-go. From what I can tell at this stage, none of these are happening now. To me, the continuation of the Kelvin timeline was perhaps the lesser of the three, but I was certainly interested to see what renowned director Quentin Tarantino would have brought to Star Trek, so the cancellation or shelving of his project is a little disappointing. Having been rejected once, I doubt Tarantino would be tempted to come back, especially if he’s moved on to other projects, and that’s a shame. Though we don’t have any confirmed details of his script or what the story would have entailed, I wonder if, as time goes by and we learn more about that project, it will come to be seen as a missed opportunity.
But enough about the Star Trek films we aren’t going to see! What about this new one?
All we know at this stage is that it’s being penned by Star Trek: Discovery writer Kalinda Vazquez. Vazquez wrote the Short Treks episode Ask Not, which brought back Anson Mount as Captain Pike, as well as introduced Cadet Sidhu – a character who may end up appearing in the upcoming series Strange New Worlds. She also wrote Terra Firma, Part II from Discovery’s third season, and served as a producer during that season as well.
All in all, I think that’s a pretty good track record! Terra Firma as a whole was one of Star Trek’s best Mirror Universe stories – and that’s saying a lot, because the Mirror Universe is a setting I don’t generally enjoy. Ask Not was good fun too; a tense and dramatic short story that ended in a very uplifting way. Just based on those two stories – the sum total of Vazquez’s Star Trek output – the project would seem to be in good hands. Add into the mix that she’s worked on Fear the Walking Dead and it seems like the team over at ViacomCBS have made a solid pick. I’m already excited about the proposed film!
But not too excited yet. This is the fourth Star Trek film that has been publicly discussed in recent years, and as mentioned above, none of the other three were greenlit or entered production. So as interesting as this sounds, I think it’s best to try to keep the hype to a minimum and not get over-excited – at least not until filming has definitely begun.
The film is said to be a new take on Star Trek, and I infer from that that we won’t be following an established crew. Despite Vazquez’s earlier work, this isn’t Star Trek: Discovery – The Movie! This concept – to bring in an entirely new crew for a feature film – is actually new to Star Trek. While the Kelvin films brought in a new cast that hadn’t previously been part of any Star Trek production, the characters they played were based on those from The Original Series. The other Star Trek feature films starred the casts of The Original Series and The Next Generation respectively, so starting entirely from scratch is a new model for a Star Trek film. It means attention must be paid to establishing who the characters are early in the story, as well as setting up where and when the action is taking place. It perhaps limits the main cast to a smaller number – three or four principal characters instead of a larger bridge crew – simply to allow us as the audience to get to know them better and follow their stories.
Starting afresh opens up the film to take almost any era, setting, and narrative that the creative team chooses. The Star Trek galaxy has at least 1,000 years of history to explore now that Discovery has firmly established itself in the 32nd Century, and there are whole areas of the galaxy that are unexplored. This means that there’s great potential for the new film to take a half-step away from familiar alien races and look at something new. That’s exciting, and I’m left at this stage with a sense that the project is very open in terms of what kind of story it could tell.
It’s been suggested by some commentators that ViacomCBS would like to see a full theatrical release for this new film, but I couldn’t confirm that anywhere online; it seems to be opinion interjected by commentators. So I’d like to suggest for the record that this film could just as easily go straight to Paramount+. With ViacomCBS investing heavily in their new streaming service, as well as being keen to emphasise that it will be the new home for Star Trek going forward, it would make sense to bring new projects directly to their streaming service.
Disney+ has trialled the “premiere access” approach – asking subscribers to pay an additional fee to watch Mulan late last year and Raya and the Last Dragon this month. Time will tell how successful such an approach has been for Disney, but it’s something that Paramount+ could consider as well in lieu of a full release in cinemas. Obviously I have a bit of an agenda in this case – as you may recall if you’re a regular reader, my health makes it impossible for me to go to the cinema these days. But even though I’m biased, I still think we could see this project come to Paramount+ as an exclusive title!
So that’s really about all I have to say. The new film has potential, and I shall watch its progress with cautious interest. For me, while Star Trek has primarily been a television franchise, I’ve greatly enjoyed its feature films as well, so there’s definitely reason to be intrigued by the open-ended possibilities of a new project of this nature. Good luck to Kalinda Vazquez and the rest of the creative team!
The Star Trek franchise – including all projects mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.