To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the beloved Star Trek franchise, Paramount will release the film Star Trek Beyond this summer. The third film in the rebooted series started by the 2009 movie, the project sees director Justin Lin step in for the departed J.J. Abrams, with the main U.S.S. Enterprise crew all returning to their roles. Joining the cast for this go-around are Idris Elba as a new villain who disagrees with the Federation, and Sofia Boutella as a mysterious alien ally to Captain Kirk and his team. Co-star Simon Pegg co-wrote the script with Doug Jung.

Based on reaction to Beyond‘s first teaser trailer, it would seem like Star Trek is in hot water with the moviegoing public, but the filmmakers remain confident. Both Pegg and Lin have stated that the final product offers far more substance than the preview presented, and the studio is looking forward to producing more installments. Stars Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reportedly signed on for a fourth installment last year, and now Paramount has taken the next step to making Star Trek 4 a reality.

According to Trek Movie, the studio has registered the (not final) title Star Trek 4 with the Motion Picture Association of America, a clear indicator that they are in the early stages of developing another movie set in the so-called “Abramsverse.” This isn’t exactly an official green light, but it could be interpreted as a sign that Paramount believes Beyond will be a large enough hit to warrant followups. At this moment in time, they don’t intend for the modern films to end at three.

Sofia Boutella and Simon Pegg in Star Trek Beyond Paramount Already Preparing For Star Trek 4?

Should Star Trek 4 come through the pipeline, there will most likely be another shakeup with the creative team. Lin was announced today as a possible helmsman for Space Jam 2, so depending on the production schedules, he may not be able to return to the final frontier. It will also be interesting to see which cast members (besides Pine and Quinto) come on board for a possible fourth entry. In particular, Zoe Saldana’s plate looks pretty full with Guardians of the Galaxy and Avatar sequels on the horizon. With James Cameron planning to shoot his four Pandora tales at once, the actress could be too busy to play Uhura again.

Obviously, the critical and/or commercial response to Beyond will play a large part in determining the ultimate fate of Star Trek 4. On that front, things appear to be in good hands. Pegg, a longtime fan of the property, has said that his script looks to “deconstruct” the franchise, exploring the purpose of the Federation and why it’s still relevant. This sounds similar to the approach used for the James Bond film Skyfall (celebrating that series’ 50th birthday), which proved to be very successful. In addition, the cast has developed strong chemistry with each other over the course of multiple movies, and it’s always fun to watch them in these classic roles. There’s the potential here for a compelling narrative that takes Trek back to its philosophical roots and asks the audience some big questions.

All in all, it’s shaping up to be an exciting time to be a Star Trek fan. Not only does the film series seem to be going strong, there’s a new TV series entering production this fall ahead of a 2017 premiere. In a pop culture landscape dominated by Marvel, DC, and Star Wars, there’s still a place for Starfleet and great stories of venturing where no one has gone before. Ideally, the franchise will be able to live long and prosper many years into the future and continue to enthrall generations of sci-fi admirers.

NEXT: Simon Pegg Talks Star Trek Beyond Script

Star Trek Beyond hits theaters July 22, 2016.

Source: Trek Movie

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