After J.J. Abrams jumped ship to help Disney and Lucasfilm bring back the Star Wars live-action film franchise (after successfully doing the same for Paramount's Star Trek), additional director and writer changes during development of Star Trek 3 caused some production delays. What was initially planned to be the beginning of principal photography on what's believed to be titled Star Trek Beyond earlier this year is all in the past - and now Paramount Pictures has properly begun production on the Star Trek Into Darkness followup in Vancouver this week.
But that's not the only exciting news for Trekkies this week. Building off the other exciting news that Paramount is looking to fandom for ideas on bringing back Star Trek to TV, we also have news that the current slate of Star Trek movies will most certainly not end as a trilogy. Two of its core characters, the iconic duo of Captain Kirk and Spock, will be back for Star Trek 4.
2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and there's no better way to celebrate the significance and success of the forward-thinking franchise than to release a movie, seeing as development on a TV series of any kind is ongoing (and there's currently no end in sight).
We've learned from THR that part of the negotiation process for Star Trek 3 saw its core stars get pay raises in exchange for signing on for Star Trek 4. Specifically, Chris Pine, who reportedly only earned $600,000 for 2009's Star Trek based on a contract he signed in 2007 - one which saw him and castmates earning only minimal raises for the sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness. Pine was an unknown commodity and an unproven star at the time, along with most of the cast, but has since gone on to serve as a lead in other projects - similar to Zoe Saldana, who has two other massive franchises getting multiple sequels (in Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy).
For Star Trek 3, Pine was initially going to earn $3 million according to court documents THR dug up from the actor's lawsuit with his old agency. However, that has since doubled to $6 million in exchange for him signing on for a fourth Trek movie alongside co-star Zachary Quinto. The goal for the studio is to keep the most important two characters from the original series on to build around for another movie (should the series continue - which it will).
Quinto said it best while chatting with Hitfix two years ago, during the promotional push for Into Darkness:
"The history of these two characters and the dynamic between this duo is legendary... It's sort of the heart of the franchise."
The exact numbers are not known but the report explains that the Star Trek Beyond budget has jumped up $10-15 million as raises were granted for the film's core cast. If Trek 3 successfully does something new for the film franchise and pushes it into a new direction (new worlds and new species are promised!), we can only assume the crew will return for another (and more!). After all, these are iconic roles played by iconic actors decades earlier and it would be a shame to see characters walk away from that... Unless it's John Cho's Hikaru Sulu of course who I'd like to see take command of an Abrams-universe USS Excelsior (just like George Takei did back in the day). There's your TV idea, Paramount. Call me.
Star Trek 3 will arrive in theaters on July 8, 2016.