November 19, 2019

'Star Trek 4' Beams Up Noah Hawley to Direct, but What About Tarantino's Movie?

The Fargo writer and showrunner will direct and produce the new Star Trek movie with J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot. And Tarantino's R-rated Trek movie is still happening. We think.

Star Trek 4 back on track with Noah Hawley at the helm.

Hawley, who made his feature film directorial debut earlier this year with Lucy In the Sky, is in final negotiations to continue the voyages of Chris Pine's Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew, reports Deadline. J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot will produce the new film for Paramount, even though their deal is now at rival studio Warner Bros.

There is no word on plot specifics at this time, and Paramount is not saying anything, but we do know that the fourth film will center on the crew that has headlined the last three movies in the series, which started with Abrams' 2009 hit, Star Trek. (Abrams directed the disappointing follow-up, 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness and Justin Lin stepped in to make the underrated Star Trek Beyond in 2016.)

As for Quentin Tarantino's much-anticipated R-rated Star Trek film? That is apparently still happening, but here is where it gets kind of confusing. In that not good, Warner Bros.-DC Extended Universe sorta way. Tarantino's R-rated take on the franchise is now filed under "spinoff," with the Once Upon a Time In Hollywood filmmaker still eying to direct. Last we heard, Tarantino's project set in the Trek-verse was to center on Pine's crew as well, but it doesn't seem like this the case. And, honestly, given QT's recent remarks that he "didn't get" the nuTrek alternate universe -- the Kelvin Timeline that started in 2009's first film -- we aren't surprised to see the Oscar-winner go his own way. (Our sources tell us this was kind of always the plan, for Tarantino's movie to play more with his interpretation of the Original Series characters Tarantino is a big fan of.)

So, while it's great to see the franchise coming back to life after one or two false starts over the last three years, it still feels like Paramount doesn't really know what they are doing with the property. It muddies the waters at a time when audiences want clean and simple from their IP -- think Marvel's Cinematic Universe. At the same time, Paramount needs a hit and it seems like they are hedging their bets on Trek 4 being a big enough success at the box office that it can open the doors for a spinoff from the guy who gave us Pulp Fiction.

The catch? Star Trek does not travel the way, say, Abrams' Star Wars movies do. Or Marvel's. It is a big but also niche franchise, that has traditionally proven more successful domestically than at the all-important international box office. Paramount has always wanted Trek to do Star Wars business and fails to cope ahead for or radically accept that it never will. We hope that thinking doesn't get too much in the way of revitalizing the franchise yet again as audiences seemed to be cooling off on it with the tepid box office response to Beyond. (The marketing really hurt that movie, but that is for another feature). 

What You Can Learn

Given that we do not know the plot of the movie or the creative direction the filmmakers intend to take with it, it is too early to judge the final product, obviously. But we can rule on the creative process thus far and see that the biggest hurdle to making Star Trek its own thing, and accepting it for what it is/can do -- as opposed to what the studio expects or wishes it would do -- is the studio itself. For 40 years now, the franchise has struggled through various gatekeepers, budget limitations, and conflicting creative visions. Abrams helped right the ship and, with Paramount's help, gave it the scale and budget to feel worthy of a blockbuster big screen treatment for the first time in its history. The Final Frontier actually felt like The Final Frontier.

It is unfortunate that the franchise is treated like square peg Paramount wants to put through its very specific round hole. So if and when you are in a position to take the helm of a franchise like this, you can learn a lot from Trek's history of studio politics and unreasonable expectations to cope ahead for how to navigate the business side of a creative pursuit like this. 

Here is hoping a unique and character-driven storyteller like Hawley can service this world better than the studio distributing it.      

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In retrospect, the JJ Abrahams reboots are not what Star Trek TOS was about. They are superficial and thin like paper. Forgettable.

November 20, 2019 at 3:42AM

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Javier Diez
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