After a somewhat shaky development process, production is getting underway on Star Trek 3—likely titled Star Trek Beyond—imminently. When J.J. Abrams departed the franchise’s director’s chair for Star Wars, Paramount and Skydance were left looking for a new captain. Bob Orci initially signed on to co-write and direct, making his helming debut on a massive franchise sequel, but Paramount wasn’t happy with the direction of his script, and he subsequently bowed out. The studio then set Simon Pegg and Doug Jung to write the screenplay and landed Fast & Furious veteran Justin Lin to direct in the hopes of finally launching the Trek franchise into “massive blockbuster” territory, but it appears that the production hit one final snag on the way to filming.
Per THR, the studio’s deals with the actors became a point of contention. The Enterprise crew received only nominal raises for Star Trek Into Darkness as Paramount argued that Star Trek—which grossed $385.7 million—was not a runaway, billon-dollar success like other franchises (e.g. Transformers). Into Darkness grossed an impressive $467 million but again wasn’t in the realm of other blockbusters, so when it came time to make Star Trek Beyond, Paramount was again hoping to give the actors small raises—but there was an issue.
Some of the Trek actors and their representatives argued that under California law, “a personal services contract cannot bind someone for more than seven years.” Since they made their initial deals—which included options for two sequels—in 2007, the actors were arguing that the old deals were arguably invalid and had expired in 2014. Paramount disputed this claim, but with no one wanting an ugly legal battle, the two sides came to a compromise.
THR reports that Paramount ultimately made some concessions to actors which included a combination of raises and better performance bonuses, with Chris Pine landing the biggest deal that sees him making $6 million for Star Trek Beyond. Pine made $600,000 for the first film and $1.5 million for the second, and Paramount was looking to set him at $3 million for Trek 3.
But as part of the compromise, Paramount was given contract options for Pine and Zachary Quinto to return for Star Trek 4, which insures that the central pairing remains intact should the studio make another Trek movie. No word on whether this option also includes Zoe Saldana, but since her profile has been significantly raised thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy, one hopes she fared well in the deals also.
Star Trek Beyond is slated for release on July 8, 2016.