Why the heck is a new Star Trek movie so difficult to pin down? It’s now been four years since the last Trek film, Star Trek Beyond, and Paramount seems to have made no tangible progress towards a fourth movie in the so-called “Kelvin” timeline. Their initial plan was to feature Chris Hemsworth returning to the role he briefly played in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, in some kind of time-travel adventure featuring the new cast. That never materialized, and then for a while Paramount was working with Quentin Tarantino on an R-rated Star Trek movie. Hard to imagine that coming together. (Spoilers: It didn’t.) The most recent version of the property was a script by Fargo TV creator Noah Hawley.

Now Deadline reports that version is dead too. The claim Hawley’s script would have featured a new cast entirely and “might be about a deadly virus,” which would certainly offer one explanation why it isn’t happening now. (Would you want to watch a space virus movie in 2020? I didn’t think so.) Deadline’s story also reveals for the first time the premise of Tarantino’s unmade Trek, which would have been based on a screenplay by The Revenant writer Mark L. Smith. Here’s how they describe it:

Tarantino dropped out as director, but the project is still viable based on an episode of the classic Star Trek series that takes place largely earthbound in a 30s gangster setting.

Trekkers will recognize that description from “A Piece of the Action,” a Season 2 episode of the original Star Trek. In it, Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew visit an alien planet where life resembles a 1930s gangster movie. It’s a very entertaining episode, if a slightly strange one (the show offers an explanation how an alien planet came to look like Prohibition-era Chicago, but it’s not a particularly convincing one).

Still, you have to love the gumption of taking one of the more absurd concepts in the history of Star Trek and trying to update it in 2020. If anyone could have made that concept work, Tarantino could have — gangster talk in his specialty, after all. Deadline claims this script is still “viable” without Tarantino attached to direct, but I don’t know. It sounds awfully risky without a very skilled captain at the helm.

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