The movie side of the Star Trek franchise has been rocky ever since Star Trek Beyond opened in 2016 and, although met with positive critical reception, underperformed at the box office. In recent months, it’s been revealed that there are two Star Trek movies currently in development: Star Trek 4, which would be a direct follow-up to Beyond, and an untitled movie which is based off an idea that Quentin Tarantino pitched. However, Star Trek 4 just hit a major development snag, as both Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth have reportedly stepped away from the project.
Chris Pine succeeded William Shatner as James T. Kirk when 2009’s Star Trek rebooted the franchise, while a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth made a minor appearance in that same movie as George Kirk, James’ father. Around the time Star Trek Beyond came out, it was announced that the two Kirk men would cross paths in Star Trek 4, but according to THR, Pine and Hemsworth have exited talks with Paramount Pictures and Skydance Media about the fourth installment set in the Kelvin timeline. The collapsed deals came down to money, as both actors wanted the studios to stick to the existing deals, but Paramount insisted on them taking pay cuts in order to stick to a budget, noting that Beyond didn’t commercially perform as well as was hoped. One insider even claims that both Paramount and Skydance lost money on Beyond.
As things stand now, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg and John Cho are all closing deals to reprise their respective characters in Star Trek 4, but losing Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth definitely constitutes a major setback. Granted, it’s possible that Star Trek 4‘s could be reworked so that Hemsworth wasn’t needed, but Pine is one of the biggest draws for these movies, if not the main one. Don’t forget that both actors are also significantly more famous than they were a decade ago, with Hemsworth finding worldwide fame playing Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Pine boosting his profile with movies like Wonder Woman and A Wrinkle in Time.
So what happens from here? Well, it’s possible that both Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth could change their mind and return to the negotiating table. However, if a new agreement can’t be worked out, it’s likely that James Kirk and George Kirk would be recast. This is especially necessary for James, because it’s hard to imagine an adventure featuring the original crew of the Enterprise without him sitting in the captain’s chair. Whatever ends up happening on this front, Paramount and Skydance reportedly don’t plan on putting Star Trek 4 on hold, as it’s considered a “priority development.”
While no specific plot details for Star Trek 4 have been released yet, given that George Kirk sacrificed himself at the beginning of 2009’s Star Trek to sabotage Nero’s ship and save the survivors of the Kelvin, including his wife, Winona, and newborn son, it was assumed that George would meet the adult James through time travel shenanigans. Back in April, it was announced that S.J. Clarkson will direct Star Trek 4, making her the first woman to helm a Star Trek movie.