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Chris Pine thinks 'Star Trek' franchise should stop trying to emulate Marvel movie formula

The actor is slated to reprise the role of James T. Kirk in a fourth movie set in the J.J. Abrams universe.

By Josh Weiss
Star Trek Chris Pine

Now that Chris Pine is confirmed to be returning as Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in a fourth Star Trek film, the actor has some thoughts on the direction of the long-running genre franchise. Speaking with Deadline about his latest cinematic project — All the Old Knives (hitting Prime Video this Friday) — he explained that the sci-fi property should stop trying to copy the Marvel Studios formula.

"I’ve always thought that Star Trek should operate in the zone that is smaller," he said. "You know, it’s not a Marvel appeal. It’s like, 'Let’s make the movie for the people that love this group of people, that love this story, that love Star Trek. Let’s make it for them and then, if people want to come to the party, great.' But make it for a price and make it, so that if it makes a half-billion dollars, that’s really good."

Of course, the goal of a big-time Hollywood studio is to make as much money at the box office as possible. Telling worthwhile tales inspired by Gene Roddenberry's beloved creation is always preferred, but ultimately secondary to those financial aspirations.

"We always tried to get the huge international market," added the actor. "It was always about making the billion dollars. It was always this billion-dollar mark because Marvel was making a billion. Billion, billion, billion. We struggled with it because Star Trek, for whatever reason, its core audience is rabid. Like rabid, as you know. To get these people that are interested that maybe are Star Wars fans or think Star Trek is not cool or whatever, proven to be … we’ve definitely done a good job of it but not the billion-dollar kind of job that they want."

Ironically, the next installment in the rebooted universe (originated by director J.J. Abrams and co-screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci) will be helmed by a Marvel Cinematic Universe veteran: WandaVision director, Matt Shakman.

"I’ve not read a script," Pine admitted. "I met the director, Matt, who I really like. I met a producer on it that I really like. I know J.J. is involved in it in some respects. I met the new people over at Paramount, which is many different kind of relations. I really liked them. Everybody seems excited about the prospect of it. There’s just simply no — I don’t have a tangible script to look at."

While it's taken over half a decade to get another adventure with the Pine-led crew moving at warp speed, Star Trek has thrived in the world of streaming under the creative leadership of Kurtzman. To date, the IP's presence on the small screen encompasses a collection of fresh content for both adults (Discovery, Picard, Strange New Worlds, Lower Decks) and children (Prodigy).

"Conceptually, I love it. I love Star Trek," Pine said. "Again, I love the messaging of it. I love the character. I love my friends with whom I get to play. It’s a great gig. I mean, it’s a gig I’ve had, working and not working, for 15-plus years. It cemented the career that I have now. I’m honored to be a part of it. It’s given me so much. I think there are plenty of stories to tell in it."