2019 marks the 53rd anniversary of Star Trek but what does the future hold for the venerable sci-fi franchise? Since Star Trek (now referred to as The Original Series) launched in 1966, the adventures of the intergalactic heroes of Starfleet have spawned five spinoff television series, thirteen feature films, an animated series, and the promise of more to come. Here's what's Trek's future in movies and TV holds.
The Original Series chronicling the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) was canceled in 1968 but the series proved even more popular in syndication. After a short-lived animated series and the original crew's successful transition to movies, Trek's late creator Gene Roddenberry launched Star Trek: The Next Generation starring Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in 1987, and that first spinoff was also phenomenally successful. After seven seasons, it was The Next Generation's turn to star in films as the 1990s saw two more TV spinoffs: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine starring Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko (the series' first African-American lead) and Star Trek: Voyager starring Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway (the first female lead). Finally, the prequel Star Trek: Enterprise starring Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer launched in 2001, but only lasted four seasons. Enterprise's cancelation spelled the end of Trek on television for 12 years.
On the movie side, The Original Series' crew starred in six feature films and The Next Generation had four films of their own until 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, the lowest-grossing Trek film in history, photon-torpedoed the film franchise. Star Trek movies made a triumphant return in 2009's Star Trek when director J.J. Abrams rebooted the adventures of the original crew in an alternate timeline with Chris Pine cast as a young Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as a young Spock. The sequel Star Trek Into Darkness was met with less acclaim while the third film, Star Trek Beyond directed by Justin Lin, won over many Trek fans but still underperformed at the box office, leaving the feature film franchise to face an unknown future once more.
However, Star Trek has made a successful comeback on television with the CBS All-Access series Star Trek: Discovery starring Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham, the franchise's first African-American female lead, and there's even more new Trek TV to come. Here's a roundup of everything we know about Star Trek's future:
- This Page: The Future of Star Trek Movies
- Page 2: Star Trek: Discovery and Picard's New Series
- Page 3: What's Next For Star Trek
Star Trek 4 Has Been Canceled
Unfortunately, Star Trek 4 has reportedly been canceled. The plan for Star Trek 4 was a time travel adventure with a big draw of Chris Pine's Captain Kirk teaming up with his late father George Kirk, once again played by Chris Hemsworth, who perished in the opening scene of Star Trek 2009. However, contract negotiations broke down between Pine, Hemsworth, and Paramount, as the studio, which has suffered a string of recent financial failures, hoped to produce Star Trek 4 more cheaply.
Though 2016's Star Trek Beyond ranks as among biggest box office-earners of the franchise, the third film set in J.J. Abrams' rebooted Kelvin timeline still only grossed $343-million worldwide against a budget of $185 million. Another blow is Star Trek 4's director S.J. Clarkson - who would have been the first female director to helm a Trek film - has moved on to direct the pilot for HBO's Game of Thrones prequel. Unless something major changes, the Starship Enterprise is remaining in drydock until further notice, although fans and actors like John Cho remain optimistic that Star Trek 4 will still happen.
Related: Why Star Trek 4 Has Been Canceled
Quentin Tarantino's Star Trek Could Still Happen
Hope for a very different kind of Star Trek 4 remains from an unlikely place: in late-2017, Quentin Tarantino pitched his version of a new Star Trek movie to J.J. Abrams and his production company Bad Robot. As Karl Urban, who plays Dr. "Bones" McCoy in the films, recalled, Tarantino's vision of Star Trek is R-rated and in keeping with his particular style:
I know a little bit about what that is and it’s bananas... You shouldn’t worry that it is going to be full of obscenity and stuff. He wants an R-rating to really make those beats of consequence land. If it’s not PG, if someone gets sucked out into space, which we have all seen before, we might see them get disemboweled first… It allows some some breadth… gives him some leeway to do that.
Still, Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty and co-wrote Star Trek Beyond, doubts that Tarantino's Trek will ever fly. For his part, Tarantino has been very busy directing Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and there have been no further updates on his version of Star Trek. Paramount also never officially confirmed Tarantino's Star Trek is in development and even if it was, it would still be years before fans would see it. But until definitive word comes that it's greenlit or canceled, with Star Trek 4 currently in limbo, as of now, Quentin Tarantino's R-rated Star Trek movie is still a possibility.