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Star Trek 4 in trouble as Chris Pine, Chris Hemsworth take their Kirks and go home

Paramount Pictures was all set to boldly go where the Star Trek film franchise has never gone before, with a female director attached to Star Trek 4. Now, that project is reportedly in jeopardy after not one but two famous Kirks have exited talks to star in the film.

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Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth have cut off negotiations to reprise their roles — as Captain James T. Kirk and First Officer George Kirk, respectively — for the fourth installment of the rebooted sci-fi franchise.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the two actors are demanding that Paramount honor the deals initially struck with both actors, who are now A-list stars in Warner Bros. Pictures and Marvel Studios superhero films. The report indicates that the studio is offering contract terms based on the underwhelming performance of the franchise’s most recent installment, Star Trek Beyond, and is trying to “hold the line” on a budget for the film.

The two actors were both expected to star in the still-untitled Star Trek 4, with some sort of time-travel element allowing James T. Kirk to meet his father, George. (Hemsworth portrayed the character in 2009’s franchise-rebooting Star Trek.) The actors have reportedly walked away from the table at this point, though, leaving the film’s status uncertain.

While the studio could certainly recast both roles, the change in casting — particularly for James T. Kirk — is likely to be a jarring one for audiences and a major gamble for a franchise that has had trouble competing with the likes of Star Wars and major superhero movies in recent years.

The problems with Star Trek 4 follow the announcement that S.J. Clarkson was hired to direct the film, making her the first female filmmaker to helm one of Star Trek’s big-screen features.

Clarkson’s attachment to the film was reported by Variety, and the project would be her first feature directorial project, although she has nearly two decades of experience directing television series episodes, miniseries, and TV movies. She’s best known for her directing work on Marvel’s The Defenders and Jessica Jones series for Netflix, as well as episodes of DexterLife on Mars, Bates Motel, and Orange is the New Black. Most recently, she directed the entirety of the BBC’s four-part miniseries Collateral, a political drama and police procedural starring Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education).

Paramount announced during this year’s CinemaCon event in Las Vegas that a fourth movie was in the works, with Star Trek Beyond writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay working on the screenplay. Also expected to return for the untitled fourth installment of the new movie franchise is actor Zachary Quinto, who played Spock in the first three films.

The three films in the rebooted Star Trek franchise have collectively earned more than $1.19 billion worldwide — a little more than half of what Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Avengers: Infinity War each made on their own. There’s no official word on when Star Trek 4 will be released or even when it will begin production at this point.

Updated August 13, 2018, with news regarding the potential exit of Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth.

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