If you were a little surprised that J.J. Abrams revealed the script for “Star Trek 4” already is written, you wouldn’t be alone. Especially since “Star Trek: Beyond” — which debuts this weekend — had a script in the works almost up until it was time to go in front of the cameras.
But there’s a reason why Abrams and his team were able to plan ahead, however. Because “Star Trek 4” was supposed to be “Star Trek 3.”
Paramount officially announced the next film Monday through StarTrek.com, and added one small caveat: The script will be written by J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay.
Those names might sound familiar, and they should. Payne and McKay were the writers attached to “Star Trek 3” when Roberto Orci was still directing. It was reported to be a time-travel romp that Paramount ultimately rejected because, according to “Beyond” co-writer Simon Pegg, it was “too Star Trek-y.”
With Abrams’ announcement that Kirk’s dead father George, played by Thor’s Chris Hemsworth, is returning on what is likely a time-travel adventure, it probably shouldn’t have been a surprise that Paramount opened the almost-recent vault.
“In the next installment of the epic space adventure, Chris Pine’s Capt. Kirk will cross paths with a man he never had a chance to meet, but whose legacy has haunted him since the day he was born,” Paramount said in a release. “His father.”
That confirms Hemsworth’s involvement in the new film, but not much else.
Paramount famously passed on this story in early 2015 and parted ways with Orci, who helped write 2009’s “Star Trek” and its 2013 followup, “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” That put the movie franchise in a bit of a free-fall, especially since the studio was fighting a ticking clock, wanting to have a new movie out in time for the franchise’s 50th anniversary.
Pegg, however, stepped in to save the day. Although he plays Scotty in the new movies, Pegg also is an accomplished writer. His credits date back to British television in 1995, as well as the popular “Spaced” series that he wrote and starred in throughout 1999 and 2000. He was even nominated for a Saturn Award in 2014 for “The World’s End.”
Moving forward with a script previously rejected might be concerning for some fans, but then again, the base has yelled for something more along the lines of cerebral and less along the lines of cowboy. With CBS readying its new Star Trek series in January, this might be the perfect time to explore a different side of Star Trek, one longtime fans are more familiar with.
“Star Trek 4” will star Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban and Zoe Saldana, as well as Hemsworth. No director has been named, nor when production will start or the film will premiere. It’s likely “Trek 4” will debut in 2019.
“Star Trek: Beyond” has to do well first. It opens July 22.