William Shatner believes Chris Pine is doing the right thing by holding out for more money on Star Trek 4. Pine inherited the role of James T. Kirk from Shatner for J.J. Abrams' cinematic reboot in 2009. The actor reprised the Enterprise's fearless leader for the two subsequent films, and was expected to return for a fourth. However, contract negotiations between Pine and Paramount recently fell apart. Due to Star Trek Beyond underperforming at the box office, the studio wanted to trim costs, but Pine was looking to parlay his rising star into a larger payday.
For now, Star Trek 4 appears to be in a state of flux, with fans debating the pros and cons of Pine leaving the franchise. Some people, like Kevin Smith, feel the series can't work without its main character, but others (including Adi Shankar) think the absence of Kirk could help push Star Trek into exciting new directions. Of course, things would be much easier if Paramount came to terms with Pine, and the original Kirk believes his successor has every right to want a higher salary.
In an interview with Trek Movie, Shatner briefly discussed his own history with contract disputes and offered his thoughts on the current Pine situation:
Well, we negotiated. I don’t recall, although there is something vaguely reminiscent about saying, “I can’t do that.” But, Chris is in a wonderful position in that he is so good and such a leading man, that he has many opportunities to explore without being Captain Kirk. So he is in a really good negotiating position. I think he’s doing the right thing in terms of getting more money, as the movies seem to be making a lot of money.
One year after Beyond struggled commercially, Pine co-starred as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman. Patty Jenkins' film, of course, was the first bona fide critical and box office smash for the burgeoning DC Extended Universe, grossing a whopping $821.8 million worldwide. Even though Trevor seemingly died at the end of Wonder Woman, Pine is returning for the sequel, so he has another franchise gig he's comfortable falling back on. The success of Wonder Woman boosted Pine's profile, and he feels like he's worth the extra cost. Shatner is in agreement, citing Pine's leading man qualities. While Pine has a relatively clear schedule after Wonder Woman 1984 wraps, he could very well receive more offers down the line.
It'll be interesting to see how Star Trek's future plays out. Paramount would definitely be interested in keeping one of their most recognizable brands around, but the truth of the matter is the Kelvin Timeline has declined in popularity over the years. Each subsequent installment grossed less domestically than the one that came before, with Beyond bottoming out at $158 million. Clearly, something has to be done to make Trek a commercially viable property again, and losing Pine may hurt the franchise. Of course, a case can be made that a dramatic reinvention is what's needed, and Trek history has proven Kirk is not a requirement to tell an entertaining story. Perhaps it can live long and prosper without its star.
We'll keep you updated on Star Trek 4 as more information becomes available.
Source: Trek Movie