The Star Trek film franchise is boldly going where it's never gone before.
Variety reports that director S.J. Clarkson has been recruited for the fourth movie in the current J.J. Abrams-rebooted series. That will make her the first woman to direct a Trek feature film after 13 previous entries were helmed by men, going all the way back to 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture. (The Wrap and Deadline both say that Clarkson is "in talks" but Variety claims it's a done deal.)
Clarkson has worked primarily in TV before this, with episodes of The Defenders, Jessica Jones, Dexter, Bates Motel, and Orange is the New Black all on her resume. The British director's sole feature film credit is Toast, a biography wtih comedic overtones that was released in 2010.
This is a huge opportunity for Clarkson and a major step forward for the Trek franchise, which has boasted names like Robert Wise, Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Nicholas Meyer, and Abrams as directors, but is now joining the ranks of other major franchises like DC and Marvel by finally bringing a woman into the director's chair (Star Wars remains a holdout, although Episode IX director J.J. Abrams recently tapped Victoria Mahoney as the series' first female second unit director).
Paramount Pictures broke the news earlier today at the CinemaCon exhibitor trade show that a fourth film set in the Kelvin universe was officially underway, and that Chris Hemsworth would return as the father of Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), reprising a role he played briefly in 2009's Star Trek before becoming a Marvel star as Thor. Zachary Quinto is also reportedly coming back as Spock, although the rest of the main cast -- Pine, Karl Urban (Dr. McCoy), Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Sulu), and Zoe Saldana (Uhura) -- have yet to confirm their participation.
The script for Star Trek 4 (which is what we'll call it for now) by J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay will somehow involve time travel, which is how Kirk gets to meet up with the father who died just as the future captain of the Enterprise was being born.
What does all this mean for the much-hyped Trek film that Quentin Tarantino was thinking about directing, from a script developed out of his own original idea? That movie is allegedly still happening -- but it is still being written and will come after Star Trek 4, sources told Variety.
The three Star Trek movies produced since Abrams relaunched the franchise in 2009 have combined to make nearly $1.2 billion worldwide, so Paramount clearly feels there's still places for this series to explore... and now they're about to enter a new frontier with the saga's first female director.