If there’s a film franchise that’s in a state of confusion these days, it’s Star Trek. Following the less-than-spectacular box office grosses of 2016’s Star Trek Beyond, there seemed to be little movement on a fourth film set in the Kelvin Universe until earlier this year.
That’s when the news broke that Quentin Tarantino had an idea for a new Trek movie and pitched it to Paramount with himself attached to direct, from a script penned by a writer chosen out of a handful summoned to develop the story.
The studio and producer J.J. Abrams were reportedly enthusiastic about the possibility, and were even willing to allow Tarantino — who’s never made a PG-13 movie in his life — to direct the first R-rated movie in Star Trek history.
But Simon Pegg — who co-wrote Star Trek Beyond with Doug Jung in addition to making his third appearance as Scotty in the film — says that the notion of a profanity-and-violence laden Trek film hitting the big screen may be premature.
For one thing, Pegg says that a script for Star Trek IV (or XIV, depending on how you count them) already exists — and that the Tarantino news is far from a done deal: “There’s a script that’s been written, and there’s also the story of Quentin Tarantino coming and chatting with J.J. about an idea that he’s had for a long time,” Pegg told Geek Exchange. “That idea is going into the writer’s room to be looked at.”
Pegg doesn’t say who wrote the existing script, but admits that the lure of having a top-shelf filmmaker like Tarantino helm a Trek film might be irresistible: “I think it might take something like him to restart it. It’s an interesting proposition, although I don’t know if that means everybody will be blowing each other’s heads off with phasers and calling Klingons motherfuckers, but, who knows, that could be fun.”
The authorship of whatever pre-Tarantino Star Trek IV script exists right now is a little murky. For example, it was announced in July 2016 that Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne were going to write a screenplay that would somehow bring back Chris Hemsworth as George Kirk, the father of James Kirk (Chris Pine) who died in the prologue of 2009’s Star Trek — but we’ve heard little about that since.
It’s also unclear whether Pegg and Jung would get another crack at the franchise — somewhat perplexing since Star Trek Beyond was acclaimed for capturing more of the flavor of the original series. And now The Revenant writer Mark L. Smith has reportedly been chosen to flesh out Tarantino’s idea into a new script after the director liked his pitch.
As for what happened with Star Trek Beyond and why it stumbled in theaters — especially coming on the 50th anniversary of the original series — Pegg bluntly says it was “poorly marketed,” adding, “They also made the film look like a boneheaded action film. And they were scared, I think, of mentioning the 50th Anniversary. It was fumbled as a thing; they didn’t know what to do with it and it’s a real shame. But I came away from it really, really happy and very proud of it.”