According to reports, market research influenced Paramount Pictures‘ choice to bring back the characters of the Kelvin Star Trek franchise for Star Trek 4.
In 2009, J.J. Abrams revamped the Star Trek brand, recasting key characters from the original series with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin in The Kelvin Timeline, an alternative reality.
The film was a box office success, spawning two sequels: Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013 and Star Trek Beyond in 2016.
Star Trek 4 was announced before the release of Star Trek Beyond, but due to the latter’s box office underperformance and a financial dispute between the studio and star Chris Pine, development was halted.
Over the years, Paramount Pictures has attempted to revive the Star Trek 4 project with a variety of proposals from various directors, but headway looked to have been achieved when WandaVision director Matt Shakman signed on to direct the feature, which is set to be released on December 23, 2023.
With the exception of Anton Yelchin, who sadly died on June 19, 2016, only a month before the release of Star Trek: Beyond, Paramount Pictures has revealed that the original 2009 Star Trek cast will return.
According to Variety, Paramount’s decision to recast the previous three Star Trek movies was based on market data. Given the significant gap in time since the release of Star Trek: Beyond, as well as the film’s low box-office success, the studio questioned the financial viability of reuniting the original ensemble. It appears that Paramount officials concluded that fan excitement for the ensemble in their established Star Trek roles was still strong, allowing the company to proceed with discussions to bring Pine and his co-stars back.
The next Star Trek picture will be released in 2023, seven years after the release of Star Trek Beyond. While certain series have taken extended breaks (such as James Bond, which was forced to take a six-year break between Spectre and No Time to Die owing to COVID-19 delays), a modern brand taking such a long break is uncommon. The cast’s hectic schedules throughout the years have contributed to the delay, with several of them landing high-profile films, such as Pine’s Wonder Woman and Dungeons and Dragons, Zoe Saldaa’s Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avatar sequels, and Simon Pegg’s Mission: Impossible trilogy.
Sony just had a lot of success bringing back Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield in Spider-Man: No Way Home, and it’s probable that Paramount is looking for a similar result with Star Trek 4.
Not only are the actors well-known in other franchises, but the cast and their interpretations of the famous characters piqued the imagination of a whole new generation of Star Trek fans.
The return of the actors is both welcome and appropriate, and if the study proves correct and Star Trek 4 is a box office success, there’s always the possibility that the cast may return for further films, and the Kelvin Timeline crew will feature in as many films as the original Star Trek ensemble.