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Noah Hawley's Star Trek movie hits pause as Paramount tries to figure out where to boldy go next

By Josh Weiss
Star Trek Beyond

Noah Hawley's Star Trek movie is pumping the brakes as Paramount reconsiders its franchise options, Deadline reported today. In her new role as the studio's head of film, Emma Watts is allegedly trying to figure out the best way to proceed as three potential Trek projects vie for the green-light.

While we thought that Hawley — who was announced as writer and director last November — would continue the rebooted film series started by J.J. Abrams, that doesn't seem to be the case. His vision is actually said to involve an entirely new cast and (per The Hollywood Reporter) a story about a virus that wipes out massive parts of the universe. If that's true, we can certainly see why Paramount would be getting cold feet about such a premise amid the current health crisis.

The two other two movies include the R-rated one Quentin Tarantino was going to direct (with a script by The Revenant's Mark L. Smith) and an actual continuation of Abrams' "Kelvin" continuity. Specifically, the latter would've seen the return of Chris Hemsworth as James Kirk's (Chris Pine) father in a story with time travel elements. S. J. Clarkson was attached at one point, but has since parted ways with the project, which entered the status of "shelved" back in January. One of the obstacles standing in its way is the large salaries required to bring back established cast members like Hemsworth, Pine, Zachary Quinto (Spock), Zoe Saldana (Uhura), John Cho (Sulu), and the rest.

Smith's script, which takes inspiration from an episode of the original TV show (perhaps "The City on the Edge of Forever"), is described by Deadline as "largely earthbound in a '30s gangster setting." Last December, Tarantino said he was "steering away" from the Star Trek universe, but even if he's no longer interested, that doesn't mean another director can't step in and take over the reins.

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Kirk and Spock in Star Trek (2009)

At the end of the day, the studio feels the Hawley and Smith versions "might serve the franchise best as Logan-like spinoffs of a core franchise," writes Deadline. The fourth entry in the mainstream franchise, on the other hand, is being viewed as "the cleanest path toward a relaunch, with an emphasis on boosting overseas gross numbers, which have never been the franchise’s strong suit." A final decision is expected to be made over the next few weeks.

Earlier this year, Hawley (Legion, Lucy in the Sky) confirmed to SYFY WIRE that the script for his Star Trek film was in development.

"It’s exciting because Star Trek has such a special story about exploration and empathy, and diversity and humanity at its best, and creative problem solving," he told us. "It was never designed at its origin as an action series. It was always about humanity having to fit into the universe, and solve problems through diplomacy and outsmarting their opponents, so I’m excited to get back to that."