Quentin Tarantino says his R-rated Star Trek script is set in “the Chris Pine timeline.” With the upcoming Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, Tarantino is set to release his ninth feature film, with only one more to go if he truly intends to retire after ten films as promised.
But what will Tarantino’s tenth and presumably final feature film be? The director isn’t saying yet. The only project he's lined up after Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is the Star Trek movie he’s been developing, with Revenant writer Mark Smith doing the screenplay. As of now, there's no plan for Tarantino to direct the film himself, though he's hinted that he could take on those duties and make his Star Trek his tenth movie. As for specific details about his Trek, Tarantino has been very tight-lipped, only revealing that the film would be Pulp Fiction in space - a vague enough statement to be sure - and that the movie would, like all his other work, carry an R rating.
Now, Tarantino has dropped a little more knowledge about his Trek, but things actually aren't much clearer. Speaking to MTV’s Happy Sad Confused podcast ahead of this week’s release of Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, Tarantino addressed his Trek script and what his plans are (via Comic Book), and said his story is set in what he calls "the Chris Pine timeline." And what that is, only Tarantino can explain:
“Well, it’s an idea then we got together and talked it out and then we hired Mark Smith, who did [The] Revenant to write the script. I don’t know how much I can say. The one thing I can say is it would deal with the Chris Pine timeline. Now, I still don’t quite understand, and JJ [Abrams] can’t explain it to me, and my editor has tried to explain it to me and I still don’t get it...about something happened in the first movie that now kind of wiped the slate clean. I don’t buy that. I don’t like it. I don’t appreciate it. I don’t — f*** that...I want the whole series to have happened, it just hasn’t happened yet. No, Benedict Cumberbatch or whatever his name is is not Khan, alright? Khan is Khan. And I told JJ, like, ‘I don’t understand this. I don’t like it.’ And then he was like, ‘Ignore it! Nobody likes it. I don’t understand it. Just do whatever you want. If you want it to happen the exact way it happens on the series it can.’”
The alternate timeline that Tarantino refers to in his remarks, and that apparently is confusing to him, is the so-called “Kelvin timeline,” which was spawned in Star Trek 2009 when time traveling Romulans appeared and destroyed the U.S.S. Kelvin, captained by James T. Kirk’s father George (Chris Hemsworth). To make a long story short, the destruction of the Kelvin ultimately altered the whole course of Federation history, leading to a chain of events that resulted in the annihilation of Spock's home world Vulcan. Introducing such a time travel loophole may have made things easier for J.J. Abrams, in that it gave him free license to ignore canon, but clearly Tarantino didn't appreciate the sly narrative trickery, which among other things set the stage for Star Trek: Into Darkness and its re-imagined Khan.
The upshot seems to be that Tarantino wants his new movie to feature Chris Pine as Captain Kirk (he effusively praised Pine’s Kirk performance in another part of the Happy Sad Confused interview), but without the Kelvin timeline baggage. And at least according to Tarantino, Abrams is perfectly happy with the Kelvin timeline being swept aside. It remains to be seen though if Pine himself can be talked into doing another Trek, after he reportedly walked away from negotiations for the now-scuttled Star Trek 4. What's for certain is that Tarantino, unsurprisingly, has very specific and strong ideas about what his own Star Trek story will be. And his ideas may actually be in agreement with a lot of Trek fans who didn’t love the changes Abrams brought about.