Star Trek 4 Remains Stuck In Development Hell, But Apparently J.J. Abrams Is Optimistic About Its Chances

Zachary Quinto's Spock and Chris Pine's Kirk in Star Trek Into Darkness
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

It’s a good time to be a Star Trek fan, as Discovery, Picard, Strange New Worlds, Lower Decks and Prodigy are all available to watch alongside the franchise’s classic shows with a Paramount+ subscription, and there are more upcoming Star Trek TV shows on the way. However, if you’re a fan of the Star Trek film series, specifically the movies set in the Kelvin timeline, we’re going into the seventh year without any new installments. Star Trek 4 continues to languish in development hell, but director/producer J.J. Abrams is apparently optimistic that it’ll eventually be made.

J.J. Abrams rebooted the Star Trek franchise in 2009 from the director’s chair with the aptly-named Star Trek, and he reprised those helming duties for 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. For 2016’s Star Trek Beyond, he passed the directing baton to Justin Lin, but he remained involved with that movie as an executive producer and holds that same position for Star Trek 4. While there’s still no timetable on when Star Trek 4 will arrive, Abrams shared this comment about where things stand with it in an Esquire profile about Chris Pine, who plays James Tiberius Kirk in the Kelvin timeline:

I will say it’s the first time [since the original reboot] that we have a story that feels as compelling as the first one.

Star Trek 4 has been in the works sine shortly before Star Trek Beyond opened to the public, with the plan at the the time being for the story to revolve around Chris Pine’s James Kirk meeting his father, Chris Hemsworth’s George Kirk, who died at the beginning of 2009’s Star Trek mere moments after James was born. In the years since though, Star Trek 4 has cycled through various directors and writers, including WandaVision’s Matt Shakman stepping away so he can focus on helming Fantastic Four. It was even announced in February 2022 that Pine and the rest of the main cast (aside from Anton Yelchin, who died in 2016) would be back for Star Trek 4, though it was later revealed that the actors hadn’t actually been approached about the project.

As things stand now, Star Trek 4 is undated after previously being slotted for December 22 among the 2023 new movie releases. Chris Pine said in the Esquire piece that he “doesn’t know” anything about the project’s progress, and along with calling being left out out of the loop “frustrating,” he suggested that the franchise is “cursed.” J.J. Abrams, on the other hand, is confident that the Star Trek 4 story that’s been cooked up will match, if not exceed the quality of the first Kelvin movie. Although Abrams didn’t share any plot details, it’s believed that the George Kirk-centric story is no longer in play, namely because Chris Hemsworth turned down the movie because he didn’t approve of the script.

None of this clears up when we can expect to see Star Trek 4, but it sounds like there’s still a solid chance for it to get off the ground again… eventually. When that day comes, CinemaBlend will let you know, but for now, keep checking back with us for all sorts of other Star Trek-related news.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.