In a variety of ways, Star Trek: Beyond is the oxymoron in the Trek film franchise since it was relaunched by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot with 2009’s Star Trek. On the one hand, many proclaimed it as the film that best managed to capture the feel, flavor and philosophical bent of The Original Series, with a modern sensibility that made it all the more intriguing and allowed its cast of actors to get even deeper into their relationships with each other. At the same time, it’s the worst performing at the box office and has led the studio to rethink how to go forward, including the idea of Quentin Tarantino directing an R-rated next voyage, whatever form that takes.
Simon Pegg, to be seen next in this summer’s Mission Impossible: Fallout, not only plays Scotty in the films, but co-wrote Beyond as well. Speaking to him about the former, it provides an opportunity to ask him what the hell happened with the latter.
“I think it was poorly marketed, to be honest,” he offers an explanation that probably goes a long way when one considers that none of the trailers mentioned Star Trek‘s 50th Anniversary, and that the use of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” as the backdrop of the first trailer — which heralded all action, and little character — was an instant turn-off. “If you look at a film like Suicide Squad, that was around for such a long time before it finally came out and people were so aware of it. Whereas with Star Trek Beyond, it was left too late before they started their marketing push. It still did great business, but it was disappointing compared to Into Darkness.” Based on the formula of a film grossing twice its production budget to break even, its $343 million gross against its $185 budget didn’t fare well at all for the future.
“From a professional standpoint for me, it was such a great experience in the end, because the critical response that we did get was exactly what Doug Jung and I and Justin Lin had hoped for,” Peggs says, “which was a much more favorable response in terms of being Star Trek and not just something there that’s disguised as Star Trek.”
He sounds pretty pumped, until that first trailer is brought up. “I was really angry about that,” he says, “because it used ‘Sabotage,’ which was our surprise moment in the end. It was supposed to be a very fun and heightened twist, and something that was a big surprise and they blew it in the first trailer, which really annoyed me. They also made the film look like a boneheaded action film. And they were scared, I think, of mentioning the 50th Anniversary. It was fumbled as a thing; they didn’t know what to do with it and it’s a real shame. But I came away from it really, really happy and very proud of it.”
Which raises the natural question of where a fourth film is at, given that it’s been two years since Star Trek Beyond‘s release and there hasn’t been much in the way of news. “There’s a script that’s been written,” he notes, “and there’s also the story of Quentin Tarantino coming and chatting with J.J. about an idea that he’s had for a long time. That idea is going into the writer’s room to be looked at. I think it might take something like him to restart it. It’s an interesting proposition, although I don’t know if that means everybody will be blowing each other’s heads off with phasers and calling Klingons mother f*****s, but, who knows, that could be fun.”
Images: Paramount Pictures