Quentin Tarantino is the rare filmmaker in the 21st century who has accomplished two things. 1) Mainstream recognition of any sort, whose mass popularity makes him a legitimate celebrity and 2) doing that without ever touching a single non-original, franchise blockbuster. Yes, Tarantino is one of the most famous directors on the planet, and he accomplished that feat without ever making a comic book movie, big-time sequel, or franchise film of any sort. Minus Jackie Brown (which was based on a novel by Elmore Leonard), every single film that Tarantino has ever written, directed, or produced has been an original project.
But that soon might be coming to an end, as Tarantino has just made quite a dramatic move for himself: teaming up with J.J. Abrams and Paramount for a brand new Star Trek film.
Deadline has the exclusive, reporting that Tarantino independently came to Paramount with a Star Trek movie pitch that seemingly seemed to excite everyone. Tarantino then got into contact with J.J. Abrams (who is still somewhat in charge of Star Trek, since the keys to Star Wars aren’t nearly enough for him), who assembled a writers room to further develop the concept. If things end up working out, Abrams will produce the project, with Tarantino taking the director’s chair.
There’s a couple of strange, un-Tarantino things here: working with a major studio is still new to him (his home was with the Weinsteins for the entirety of this career), and also not writing a movie that he pitched himself. But the reasoning for the latter seems pretty simple: Tarantino is close to entering production on his next project over at Sony, and simply doesn’t have the time to write out a Star Trek movie before that happens. So he’ll give it to some others to work on as he directs his 1960’s Hollywood movie and, when he finishes that project, might move on to this Star Trek thing full time.
Which, yes, is still a pretty crazy thing to happen…even if the possibility was floated around in the past. Tarantino has spoken of his love for Star Trek previously, and has even mentioned its one of the few franchises he would ever consider working in (the other being James Bond, which is probably less likely to happen, but would be SOOOOOOO cool.) But the fact that it’s actually a thing that is actively happening, and that has the attention of Paramount and J.J. Abrams, is so bizarre. It would be like hearing that Yorgos Lanthimos is making a Marvel movie, or that Mark Duplass has a really kick-ass idea for a new Batman movie. When you see these guys (and, unfortunately, it’s mostly guys) who have found success making original movies suddenly decide “Eh, I want to make a blockbuster!”, it can be jarring. That’s only doubly so when its the man most famous for only making original movies.
All that being said…am I excited about the prospect of a Tarantino helmed Star Trek movie, though? You bet your ass I am — I get excited by every Tarantino project, after all. But it’s hard to deny the dude has a niche, and even when he hops from a (sort of) war film to a (sort of) western, the aptest genre still ends up being “a Quentin Tarantino movie.” To see him play around in a wildly different sandbox, making a genre film with a massive budget, makes for one hell of a curiosity. The fact that it’s Star Trek is just icing on the cake.
At this point though, it’s too early to speculate much more. Which won’t stop me from doing this in the following paragraph.
Would the film continue the Kelvin timeline created by Abrams, and feature the return of actors like Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, etc.? Would it be something entirely different, with a new cast of characters for Tarantino to play off of? What’s so fascinating about the pitch that got everyone so excited to make the movie in the first place? Will this even happen, or is it destined to fall apart in six or so months when Paramount decides Tarantino’s vision clashes with their less risky one? It’s too early to say and, since a franchise filmmaking Tarantino is such an unknown quantity, I won’t make any predictions about what will end up happening.
Except for this one: no way in hell is Tarantino actually going to retire at any point, right? Like Soderbergh and Miyazaki before him, another idea always comes. Just who expected it to be this one?
Also published on Medium.