Chris Pine, who played James Tiberius Kirk in the “Star Trek” reboot timeline (better known to the Trekkies as the Kelvin timeline), knows firsthand just how ill-advised that strategy was. “I’m not sure ‘Star Trek’ was built to do that kind of business,” he told Esquire in March 2023 (via Variety).
To the actor’s point, 2013’s “Star Trek Into Darkness” remains the highest-grossing film of all time with a worldwide gross of $467 million. “Star Trek Beyond” needed to hit a similar or higher mark to justify Paramount’s spending. That would have been hard enough even if “Darkness” hadn’t upset Trekkies somewhat ferocious with their whitewashed rehash of “Khan’s Wrath.” That “Beyond” also had the misfortune to debut on the heels of numerous summer releases that had managed to bombard critics and general audiences alike (“Alice Through the Looking Glass” and “Independence Day: Resurgence” being two such examples). ) don’t do him any favors, either.
It’s a shame, too. “Beyond” was largely heralded as an admirable marriage between the forward-thinking, upbeat sci-fi storytelling that had characterized the old-school “Trek” and the more show-oriented approach favored by earlier Kelvin Timeline films. If it had cost half or maybe two-thirds of what it did, it would have been a financial success. Even in 2016 dollars, $110 million could get you a sci-fi movie as visually stunning as “Passengers.” (Check that out: we managed to beat the “Say something nice about ‘Passenger'” challenge without breaking a sweat!)
Instead, Paramount overspent on “Beyond” and the film failed to recoup its costs, “only” grossing $343 million. For the studio to also rush in and announce “Star Trek 4” before the movie’s release was just more egg on its face.