New Star Trek Movie in 2008, Prequel to TOS

A new Star Trek movie is reportedly in the works, featuring the characters from the original series but set years earlier.

More than three years after the last “Star Trek” movie crashed at the box office, the venerable sci-fi franchise is being revived by the director of the upcoming “Mission: Impossible” sequel, Daily Variety reported in its Friday edition. The as-yet-untitled “Star Trek” feature, the 11th since 1979, is aiming for a fall 2008 release through Paramount Pictures, the Viacom Inc. unit looking to restore its box-office luster under new management, the trade paper said.

The project will be directed by J.J. Abrams, whose Tom Cruise vehicle “Mission: Impossible III” will be released by Paramount on May 5. Abrams, famed for producing the TV shows “Alias” and “Lost,” will also help write and produce.

Daily Variety said the action would center on the early days of “Star Trek” characters James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock, including their first meeting at Starfleet Academy and first outer-space mission.

The paper described “Star Trek” as Hollywood’s most durable performer after James Bond, spawning 10 features that have grossed more than $1 billion and 726 TV episodes from six series. The 10th film, “Star Trek: Nemesis,” bombed at the box office on its December 2002 release, earning just $43 million in North America. Last year, Viacom-owned broadcast network UPN pulled the plug on the low-rated series “Star Trek: Enterprise” following a four-season run.

After the “Enterprise” debacle, I am highly dubious of Trek prequels. The problem is that the original series debuted in 1966, long before the modern special effects era, and had a modest budget. As with the Star Wars prequels, then, the result is a distant past that looks much more advanced and futuristic than the original. Plus, since we already know the “future” most of the suspense is left out of the plot, which will instead rely on cheesy references to the old shows aimed at the geeks.

Crosspost Gone Hollywood

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. NoZe says:

    Still, as a Trekker for over 30 years, I have to say that, for me, “Star Trek” movies are like pizza. When they’re good they’re good, and when they’re bad, they’re still pretty good!

  2. Jem says:

    Given the age of the actors (those who are still alive, that is), they’d have to bring in a new group…there’s too much investment in the “existing” characters for this to work anytime soon. They ought to put this idea on the shelf and come back to it in 30 years…

  3. McGehee says:

    What they need to do, if they’re going to continue the franchise, is explore alternative scenarios. A series or movie based on the “Mirror, Mirror” universe but set far away from the various Trek-series treatments that have already been shown, might do the trick.

    Show the audience something they haven’t already seen.

  4. Steven TrekFan says:

    No way. Sorry.
    The script was originally commissioned around 1989 to be #6, but instead they wisely chose a different one (Undiscovered Country) which I believe is one of the best films ever made, regardless that the name ‘star trek’ is stamped on it.

    The same error has been made with the James Bond franchise, and most people already recognize that the series is over.

    I believe if they put their creative genius to work they can create a very original script that won’t rely heavily on the original series. As I understand, Brent Spiner and Patrick Stewart have already stated they won’t do any more trek films.

  5. Jeff says:

    I always thought Undiscovered Country was the first even numbered Star Trek movie to break the rule (evens are good, odds are bad) and actually suck pretty badly.

  6. First, an unrelated question. James, is there any way to move the advertisements that appear in-between the commenter personal information and the comment box? A better location for the ads would be above “Post a comment.” Ads don’t bother me per se but their current position is counterintuitive to commenting.

    I think a prequel to Trek or anything that continues the storylines as we know them would be a clear mistake. It won’t move tickets, it won’t wow critics, it’ll just further erode the franchise’s reputation. Instead, if they want to do something cinematic with Trek, they need to consider a radical departure from the storylines as we knew them. “Galactica” is a good example of taking a beloved but juvenile franchise and transforming it into something revolutionary. They could do that with Trek, but it would require a lot of freedom on the part of the writers, and probably a giant shift in the plot that captures some of the paranoid atmosphere of the best “DS9” episodes.

  7. James Joyner says:

    Matthew: Ads moved.

  8. Rebekah says:

    If they want so badly to rehash TOS, it would be nice to see Hollywood make a well thought-out, high budget Trek film with elements of the original show (not just references for the geeks) set in the current ST universe. For instance I would love to see an aging Spock play a dominant role, especially since he always seems to have some important things going on. Either way I agree that something drastically different would be needed to save the franchise.

    A prequel, however, with new actors playing the old characters is sure to be a disaster. Unless they intend to make it a comedy.