The gears have been grinding slowly but surely on a fourth Star Trek movie, which was to star Top Chrises Pine and Hemsworth as a father-son Captain Kirk duo in, presumably, some kind of timey-wimey scenario that would resurrect Hemsworth as Captain Kirk the Senior. And it would be directed by SJ Clarkson, the first woman calling the shots on a Trek movie. I say “was”, though, because late Friday word broke that both Chrises walked away from negotiations, reportedly over money.
Here are the challenges facing Paramount in negotiations: 1) Chris Pine is exponentially more costly now that he is the male lead in a successful superhero franchise, and given both Wonder Woman’s popularity and his popularity within it, there is no reason for him to go back to a second-tier franchise. 2) Star Trek is a second-tier franchise. Two out of three of the movies have been quite good, but the franchise as a whole has not blown anyone’s socks off. The last entry, Star Trek Beyond, is both the best and least profitable of the new movies. And 3) Chris Hemsworth’s agents are actual sharks with lasers on their heads. (I talked to someone who has negotiated with them and she described it as “harrowing”. He could ask for the moon and you’d probably have to give it to him.)
Point the second is the most challenging, because a questionably successful franchise does not have money lying about to pay people for sticking around, and given the mediocre-at-best performance of Star Trek, it’s not in Paramount’s interest to give away any potential profit. So they need their stars to take a pay cut, which they are clearly not willing to do—I imagine Hemsworth’s lawyers laughing like hyenas at this point. Does this ding their Best Chris rankings? And does it kind of rub you wrong that they’re jeopardizing the movie that was going to be directed by a woman? I can hear you already: “They shouldn’t have to do it just for that reason”, and yes, that is true. But they have far more negotiating power than SJ Clarkson and this is how they’re using it, that is all.
So where does all this leave Stark Trek 4? Paramount could always swallow the bitterest pill and cough up the cash. Or they could recast and proceed with cheaper, presumably less well-known actors. Or they could scrap the project altogether. They do have that Quentin Tarantino Trek movie in development. Or they could release no new Trek movies and in that case, I’m not sure anyone would even notice.