Star Trek: Noah Hawley Talks Budget Complexities of Film Franchise

Star Trek came back as a force on television on CBS All Access due in part ironically to the success of its Kelvin universe counterpart on the Paramount side. Since J. J. Abrams' Star Trek in 2009, two additional films in Into Darkness (2013) and Beyond (2016) were released surrounding the younger versions of The Original Series crew. Now that he's been put in charge of the fourth film and an industry ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, director Noah Hawley talked to Collider about the difficulties of resuming the franchise on the big screen.

Noah Hawley to Write and Direct "Star Trek 4"
Noah Hawley
Editorial credit: DFree /

How Star Trek Factors in a Ravaged Film Industry

"One of the biggest challenges that anyone has right now is, 'What is the feature film business?'" Hawley said. "Certainly, we're at a moment where the movie theater experience is dormant, at least, for a year or two and the only way really to make your money back on a $100 million+ movie is box office, and if you can't rely on that, how do you run that business? Unless you have a really strong streaming play, which Disney tried with Mulan by charging $30 for it, you can make your money back that way. But it's yet to be proven that people will spend $30 for a home viewing experience. I think that's one of the biggest challenges of making a film out of a brand that people are already getting a taste of, just making sure that it's going to justify the expense of it." Hawley's point about making Star Trek profitable on the big screen is a sound one as others like star Simon Pegg, who plays Lt. Commander Montgomery Scott, said one of the major obstacles of the film franchise in 2020 is how Star Trek just isn't seeing as much return as other tentpole franchises. Another major issue is market oversaturation. The franchise isn't as fresh in the mind of viewers when there are four active TV shows they can stream in one place.

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Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban in Star Trek Beyond (2016). Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

The director seems intrigued about the prospect if films can still see theatrical release or if they can be an option for streaming. "I think that's possible, although what you get into, especially with the film companies that don't have a strong streaming play, is that they're not in the business of making a little bit of money," he said. "The only business they can be in is the making-a-lot-of-money business, so it's the tentpole business. If you were to offer them a $20 million that could at best earn $80-90 million, it might not even be worth the price of admission for them. Now, I'm sure you could go to CBS All Access or whatever and say, 'Let me make a two-hour Star Trek movie for streaming.' That might be worth it. But the theatrical experience, that's the challenge that I think we're going to find in the next 5-10 years." You can check out the rest of the interview where he talks about Fargo and Legion on Collider.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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