Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne have found success as the showrunners of Amazon’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” but before they resurrected Middle Earth it was the Starship Enterprise they tried to get off the ground. McKay and Payne wrote a “Star Trek Beyond” sequel for director S.J. Clarkson that would’ve served as the fourth film in the J.J. Abrams-backed reboot series starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and more. The script, which McKay and Payne have rarely spoken about, featured Chris Hemsworth returning as George Kirk, father of Pine’s James Kirk.
“I would love to tell you about it,” McKay told Esquire magazine, opening up in detail for the first time about the “Star Trek” movie never made. “We worked on a couple of ‘Star Trek’ movies. The one you’re asking about would have been the fourth in the franchise, reuniting Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pine. The conceit was that through a cosmic quirk in the ‘Star Trek’ world, they were the same age. It was going to be a grand father-son space adventure—think ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ in space. We were really thrilled about it.”
McKay said they had written an “original villain” for the movie and that the script had “a really cool ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’-esque sci-fi idea at the core.”
“We worked on it for two and half years with Lindsey Weber, our non-writing executive producer on ‘Rings of Power,’ and an amazing director, S.J. Clarkson,” McKay added. “The movie eventually fell apart and it really was a heartbreak for us…we would have loved to make that movie. I want to spoil a piece of it that’s exciting—how they end up together. Can we do that, JD?”
Payne took over the conversation and said, “There’s an episode of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ called ‘Relics’ where they find Scotty, who’s been trapped a transporter for a couple of decades, and they’re able to have cool adventure with him. Our conceit was, ‘What if right before the Kelvin impacted with that huge mining ship, George Kirk had tried to beam himself over to his wife’s shuttle where his son, Jim Kirk, had just been born? And what if the ship hadn’t completely exploded—what if it left some space junk?’”
“Think about when you send a text message and you’ve typed it out, but you haven’t quite hit send,” Payne continued. “On the other side, they see those three little dots that someone has typed. It’s like the transporter had absorbed his pattern up into the pattern buffer, but hadn’t spit him out on the other side. It was actually a saved copy of him that was in the computer.”
McKay concluded, “So the adventure is that Chris Pine and the crew of the Enterprise have to seek out the wreckage of the ship that his father died on because of a mystery and a new villain. In the ship, they stumble across his father’s pattern. They beam him out and he has no idea that no time has passed at all, and that he’s looking at his son. Then the adventure goes from there.”
Paramount scrapped the project, and the fate of a fourth “Star Trek” movie remains a question mark. The studio courted the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Noah Hawley to develop scripts for the movie, but neither screenplay made it past development. “Wandavision” director Matt Shakman boarded a new “Star Trek” movie earlier this year, but he’s since jumped ship to helm “Fantastic Four” for Marvel and Disney.
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