Is 'Star Trek Beyond' The Final Film?

With the release date of the next film in the franchise just around the corner, I got to thinking — is Star Trek Beyond the final film in the series? I feel like I haven't heard it talked about that way, so I wasn't sure, but it is a pretty set pattern we have going, of three movies released in fairly quick succession, that can stand alone, but make up a greater story arc of a trilogy. And with the first film in the rebooted franchise, Star Trek, coming out in 2009, the second, Star Trek Into Darkness, coming out in 2013, and the third, Star Trek Beyond, due out on Jul. 22, enough seems to be matching up that it's worth asking whether this is the final film, especially considering the finality of Kirk's speech in the new trailer (below).

So, is it? Well, it required some digging to find out, but I can now report with some certainty that no, this is technically not the final Star Trek film. It's impossible to know how they leave the plot just yet, whether it ends on a cliffhanger or with a tidy wrap-up, but I found a real-life clue that leads me to believe we haven't seen the last of this particular crew of the USS Enterprise. And that clue was a quiet little contract renegotiation that took place almost exactly a year ago. As is standard operation procedure in Hollywood, the current cast originally signed on for the first movie, plus the option of two sequels. So they were in for three regardless, but that number got sneakily upgraded to four for two of the franchise's stars — Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto.

In June 2015, after ongoing contract disputes, Paramount locked down Pine and Quinto for a fourth movie with substantial raises according to The Hollywood Reporter, so they're contractually committed to continuing the series beyond, well, Beyond. But of course, that's assuming the rest of the cast would fall in line also, and that this current movie is a success, neither of which are certainties. This franchise hasn't had the easiest path to walk, what with everything from script re-writes to director departures to lukewarm reception, so I wouldn't be shocked if there was a break after this third film.

But there is at least an option for a fourth, and a pretty real one, given that contracts have been signed, so I think the ideal situation is for Star Trek Beyond to be better than any of us could have expected, giving us a huge burst of momentum to go sailing into a fourth movie and beyond (sorry) together. Cross your fingers, trekkies.

Image: Paramount Pictures