Principal photography began in Vancouver on June 25, 2015. The film premiered in Sydney on July 7, 2016, and was released in the United States on July 22, 2016 by Paramount Pictures. The film is dedicated to the memory of Yelchin, who died a month prior to the film's release, as well as to fellow Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy, who died during pre-production. The film grossed $343.5 million at the box office and received positive reviews from critics, with many praising its performances, action scenes, musical score, visual effects, and its tributes to Yelchin and Nimoy.
At the 89th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, but lost to Suicide Squad.
Three years into its mission, the USS Enterprise arrives at Yorktown, a massive space station, for resupply and shore leave for her crew. Struggling to find meaning in their endless exploration, Captain James T. Kirk has applied for a promotion to vice admiral; he recommends Spock as his replacement. Meanwhile, Hikaru Sulu reunites with his family, Montgomery Scott works to keep the ship operational, and Spock and Nyota Uhura amicably end their relationship; Spock also receives word from New Vulcan that Ambassador Spock, his counterpart from the original timeline, has died.
The Enterprise is dispatched on a rescue mission after an escape pod drifts out of a nearby uncharted nebula. The occupant, Kalara, claims her ship is stranded on Altamid, a planet within the nebula. As the Enterprise exits an asteroid field within the nebula, a massive swarm of small ships ambushes the starship. The leader of the swarm, Krall, and his crew board the crippled Enterprise and unsuccessfully search for a relic, the Abronath, that Kirk had recently obtained. Krall captures and removes many crewmembers from the ship; he also has his swarm cut the Enterprise into pieces. Kirk orders the crew to abandon ship, leaving the remains of the Enterprise to crash on Altamid.
On the planet, Krall captures Sulu, Uhura, and other survivors. Kirk and Pavel Chekov, accompanied by Kalara, locate the Enterprise's saucer section; realising that Kalara knew they would be attacked, they trick her into revealing herself as Krall's spy. To escape Krall's soldiers, Kirk and Chekov use the ship's thrusters to flip the saucer over, crushing Kalara. Elsewhere on the planet, a wounded Spock and Dr. Leonard McCoy search for other survivors; Spock explains to McCoy that the tension he witnessed between him and Uhura at the Yorktown base was due to his intention to leave Starfleet to help the Vulcan survivors, and continue the late Ambassador Spock's work. Jaylah, a scavenger who previously escaped Krall's encampment, rescues Scott and takes him to her makeshift home, the grounded USS Franklin, an early Starfleet vessel reported missing over a century earlier. Scott is reunited with Kirk, Chekov, McCoy and Spock. After repairing the Franklin, they raid Krall's camp using Jaylah's technology and transport the crew aboard, then escape Altamid. Threatening to kill the crew, Krall coerces Ensign Syl to hand over the Abronath that she had kept hidden for Kirk, then dissolves her completely using the Abronath, the missing half of an ancient bioweapon that can disintegrate any humanoid. With the device complete, Krall intends to attack Yorktown and kill its inhabitants before going on to attack the Federation. Kirk and the others free the crew as Krall launches into space with the bioweapon, leading his drones to Yorktown.
As the Enterprise survivors pursue Krall in the Franklin, they deduce that such a massive swarm must coordinate its attacks via radio signals. Scott transports Spock and McCoy into one of the swarm ships. Matching the swarm's frequency, they jam and disorient the swarm by broadcasting the 1994 song "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys over the channels, destroying almost the entire fleet. Krall and his three surviving ships crash in Yorktown. As Krall flees into the starbase, Uhura and Kirk discover from the Franklin's logs that he is actually Balthazar Edison, former captain of the Franklin. A pre-Federation human soldier, Edison rejected the Federation's principles of unity and cooperation with former enemies like the Xindi. When he and his crew were stranded on Altamid by a wormhole, the three survivors used the technology of the planet's extinct natives to prolong their lives at the cost of the others, and re-purposed their dormant drone workers into the swarm. Thinking that the Federation had abandoned them, Edison now plans to destroy the Federation and resume galactic conflict. Kirk pursues Edison into Yorktown's ventilation system, where Edison activates the bioweapon. Before it can be unleashed, Kirk ejects Edison and the bioweapon out of Yorktown and into space where the weapon consumes Edison. Using the alien ship they had commandeered, Spock and McCoy save Kirk moments before he is also blown into space.
In the aftermath, Commodore Paris closes the unsolved cases of Captain Edison and the USS Franklin crew. Kirk decides to remain as a captain, while Spock chooses to remain in Starfleet and reprises his relationship with Uhura. Jaylah has been accepted into Starfleet Academy on Kirk's recommendation. As the crew celebrates Kirk's birthday, and together they watch the progress for the completion of their new ship, the USS Enterprise-A, each of them recites a portion of the Enterprise's iconic mission statement.John Cho as Sulu, third officer and helmsman.
Simon Pegg as Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, second officer and chief engineer.
Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk, commanding officer of USS Enterprise.
Zachary Quinto as Commander Spock, first officer and science officer.
Zoë Saldana as Lieutenant Uhura, communications officer.
Karl Urban as Doctor "Bones" McCoy, chief medical officer.
Anton Yelchin as Chekov, the ship's main navigator.
Idris Elba as Krall, a powerful mutated alien warlord.
Sofia Boutella as Jaylah, an alien scavenger.
Lydia Wilson as Kalara, Krall's henchwoman and scout.
The complete original cast appears in a photo shown in Ambassador Spock's keepsake box. The photo itself is from promotional material for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the penultimate project featuring them.
With Abrams returning as only a producer of the third film, while focusing on directing Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, writer Roberto Orci was set to replace him as director in May 2014. However, in December, Orci's role was changed to producer only as well, with Edgar Wright considered to replace him, along with a shortlist of directors, including Rupert Wyatt, Morten Tyldum, Daniel Espinosa, Justin Lin and Duncan Jones. Also, Star Trek actor and film director Jonathan Frakes expressed interest in the job. At the end of the month, Lin was announced as director of the third installment.
In 2013, Orci had begun writing the script with Patrick McKay and J. D. Payne, with Payne saying of the script in March, "We really want to get back to the sense of exploration and wonder. The kind of optimistic sense of the future that Star Trek has always kind of had at its core. It's the Chicago Bulls in space, in terms of these people who are all awesome at their job." In January 2015, after Orci's departure, Simon Pegg and Doug Jung were hired to rewrite the screenplay, with Pegg saying on the previous draft, Paramount "had a script for Star Trek that wasn't really working for them. I think the studio was worried that it might have been a little bit too Star Trek-y." Pegg had been asked to make the new film "more inclusive", stating that the solution was to "make a western or a thriller or a heist movie, then populate that with Star Trek characters so it's more inclusive to an audience that might be a little bit reticent."
The first film's major cast members signed on for two sequels as part of their original deals. In 2014, early in the film's development, William Shatner said that he was contacted by producer Abrams to see if he would be interested in a possible role, but as the process continued and the script changed hands, the role never materialized. Alice Eve was not included in the film despite her character having joined the Enterprise crew at the end of the last installment, because Pegg, in writing the script, did not have anything meaningful for her to do; however, he stressed that Eve could appear in a later installment. Joseph Gatt's cyborg Science Officer 0718 was dropped from the film after a rewrite. In March 2015, Idris Elba was in early talks to play the villain, and he was confirmed for the role in the following months. Pegg noted that the villain would be an original one, rather than a known antagonist from past stories in the Star Trek franchise. In April, Sofia Boutella joined the cast in a lead role, and in early July, Deep Roy was confirmed to reprise his role of Keenser. That month, Joe Taslim was added to the cast opposite Elba's villain, and by August, Lydia Wilson joined as well. In March 2016, Shohreh Aghdashloo was cast as Admiral Paris for reshoots on the film.
Principal photography on the film began on June 25, 2015, in Vancouver, and Squamish, British Columbia, after several delays caused by multiple script rejections. Additional filming locations were Seoul, South Korea and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Principal filming ended on October 15, 2015. In March 2016, production underwent reshoots, with Aghdashloo added to the cast.
In August 2015, composer Michael Giacchino confirmed that he would return to write the score. On June 26, 2016, singer Rihanna released a teaser across her social media accounts for a single for the film entitled "Sledgehammer", and the song premiered the following day.
The film was released in 2D, RealD3D, IMAX 3D and Barco Escape. In August 2014, it was announced that Paramount had pushed back the release of the film to 2016, for the 50th anniversary celebration of the debut of Gene Roddenberry's original sci-fi series. In December, it was announced that the film was to be released on July 8, 2016. In September 2015, the film's release date was pushed back to July 22, 2016. The film was released in Dolby Cinema format in selected theaters. The film had its Australian premiere in Sydney on July 7.
A teaser trailer for the film was released on December 14, 2015, and was criticized by some fans for focusing too much on action, and for featuring the Beastie Boys song "Sabotage", which many considered out of place, despite its use in the first film of the rebooted series. Pegg expressed similar thoughts of dissatisfaction with the teaser, saying that he "didn't love it" because "I know there's a lot more to the film." He interpreted the trailer to be a way of the marketing team saying, "Come and see this movie! It's full of action and fun!" A second trailer was released on May 20, 2016, to warmer reviews. A third and final trailer was released on June 27, 2016, featuring Rihanna's single "Sledgehammer".
Star Trek Beyond was released on Digital HD on October 4, 2016, and on Blu-ray and DVD on November 1, 2016.
Star Trek Beyond underperformed financially at the box office. Scott Mendelson of Forbes observed that one factor contributing to the film's underperformance was its untimely release in a crowded summer in which it was surrounded by other tentpole films like Ghostbusters, Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad. He also noted that had Paramount released the film for the Star Trek's 50th anniversary on September 8, the film could have benefited from that occasion, as demonstrated in 2012 when MGM released Skyfall (which went on to gross over $1 billion) for that series' 50th anniversary.
Star Trek Beyond grossed $158.8 million in the United States and Canada and $184.6 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $343.5 million, against a production budget of $185 million. It had a global opening of $89.2 million and an IMAX opening of $11.6 million on 571 IMAX screens. Industry analyst Danny Cox had previously estimated that in order for the film to break even, it would have to earn $340–350 million worldwide, and ended losing an estimated $50.5 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film was projected to gross $50–60 million in its opening weekend. It opened alongside Ice Age: Collision Course and Lights Out, but critics noted that the film did not face any direct competition with them. It opened across 3,928 theaters, of which 391 were IMAX. It made $5.5 million from Thursday previews from 3,100 theaters, an improvement over its two immediate predecessors. Of that, the film grossed $1.1 million on 387 IMAX screens. This includes revenues generated from Wednesday night, when Paramount screened all Star Trek films, which concluded with a 10pm screening of Beyond. On its opening day, it earned $22.5 million, which is the second-biggest among the franchise, only behind Star Trek ($30.9 million), the third-biggest opening day of the summer for a live-action film and the second-biggest opening day of the year for a non-comic book superhero live-action film, behind only The Jungle Book. It earned $59.3 million in its opening weekend, which is the third-biggest debut among the franchise but the lowest of the reboot series (behind Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness for both). Adjusted for inflation, it ranks fourth behind the aforementioned films and Star Trek: First Contact ($60 million). It performed exceptionally well in IMAX making $8.7 million in 387 IMAX screens. The film came in 14% lower than the opening of its immediate predecessor, Star Trek Into Darkness, but box office experts noted that the fall was mild in comparison to other sequels of 2016 and is still considered a hit. It dropped precipitously by 69% on its second Friday and was overtaken by newcomer spy film Jason Bourne, earning $6.75 million. By comparison, Star Trek dropped 56% on its first Friday while Star Trek into Darkness fell 53%. However, this was not the worst Friday-to-Friday drop for a Star Trek film, as Star Trek: Nemesis plunged 83% on its second Friday due to negative word-of-mouth and heavy competition from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
By the second and third weekend following the film's release, box office revenue continued to drop significantly due to the release of competing films like Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad.
Internationally, the film received a scattered release pattern and was released across approximately 76 markets. It opened in 37 markets in conjunction with its North American release in its first weekend, including in the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia — territories where the franchise has traditionally performed well. It earned a total of $30 million from the said number of markets which is slightly lower than Star Trek Into Darkness' $31.7 million international debut in 2013. Paramount said that the heatwave in Europe negatively impacted the weekend's results. Beyond debuted at first place in 16 of them and recorded the biggest opening weekend ever for the franchise in 17 markets, including Russia, Taiwan and Thailand. It debuted in third place overall at the international box office, behind Skiptrace and The Legend of Tarzan. Beyond set numerous records in IMAX theaters. Led by very strong results in the UK and Russia, it grossed an estimated weekend of $3.2 million on 184 screens besting Star Trek Into Darkness' $2.8 million debut. In its second weekend, it fell drastically by 57% earning $13 million. As a result, it slipped into sixth place at the box office. After fluctuating up and down the charts, it finally topped the international box office in its seventh weekend due to a robust debut in China and remained at the top for the second weekend in a row.
The highest international tallies were recorded in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Malta ($6.1 million), South Korea ($5.6 million), Germany ($4.5 million), Russia and the CIS ($3.3 million), Australia ($3 million), France ($2.1 million), Mexico ($1.5 million), Brazil ($1.6 million), Venezuela ($1.4 million) and Taiwan ($1 million). In the United Kingdom, where the performance of the franchise has been consistently solid, it was edged out by the family film The BFG. Its £4.74 million ($6.2 million) opening from 535 theaters is the lowest among the rebooted series and a 31% decline from the £8.43 million ($11 million) opening posted by Star Trek Into Darkness, if previews are deducted. The Guardian cited J. J. Abrams' departure as the director and fans' unenthusiastic response to Idris Elba as the villain (in comparison to Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness) as some possible reasons why the film failed to generate lucrative revenue. The site also projected a total gross of around £20 million ($26 million+) for the film.
It opened in China on September 2, and earned an estimated $9.30 million on its opening day (representing 66% of the total marketplace), including $370,000 in midnight preview showings which is 160% larger than the opening day of Star Trek Into Darkness and $21.8 million in two days. In total, it had an opening weekend of $31.3 million (per Paramount) and $30.7 million (according to Chinese box office service Ent Group) from 6,259 screens, marking the biggest Star Trek debut in country which is 105% bigger than the opening of Star Trek Into Darkness. It was the only one of five new releases to make any impression on the chart. It remained at the top of the box office for a second weekend by adding another $10.1 million (according to Chinese data provider Ent Group), or $11.37 million (according to Paramount) from 5,830 locations from Friday to Sunday, a steep decline of 62.6% from its previous weekend. It fell out of the top 10 in its third weekend, and has grossed a total of $64.2 million there. It is projected the film will end its run there anywhere around $70–100 million, a disappointing figure considering the robust marketing effort by investors Alibaba Pictures and Huahua Media. Thus, the film is the second Paramount film to underperform in that corner following Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows in July.
In terms of total earnings, its biggest offshore markets are the United Kingdom ($13.3 million), Germany ($8.6 million), Russia and the CIS ($5.5 million) and Australia ($5.2 million). Star Trek Beyond opened in Japan on October 21, where it has earned $4.9 million as of 17 November 2016.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 85% based on 259 reviews; the rating is 6.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Star Trek Beyond continues the franchise's post-reboot hot streak with an epic sci-fi adventure that honors the series' sci-fi roots without skimping on the blockbuster action." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 68 out of 100, based on 50 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 stars out of 4 and said, "Even with its big-screen pyrotechnics and its feature-length running time, Star Trek Beyond plays like an extended version of one of the better episodes from the original series, and I mean that in the best possible way." Scott Collura of IGN awarded the film 8.4/10, describing it as being:"terrific, a fun and exciting entry in the series that balances subtle fan service while also feeling fresh and modern; Star Trek Beyond is the perfect way to celebrate the series’ 50th anniversary." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter said the screenplay by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung "injects a welcome strain of humor that's true to the original Gene Roddenberry creation, delivering nostalgia without stiff veneration", and went on by saying, "While Beyond won't unseat 1982's thrilling The Wrath of Khan as the gold standard for Star Trek movies, it's a highly entertaining entry guaranteed to give the franchise continuing life." Owen Gleiberman of Variety, in an otherwise positive review, described the film being: "a very familiar, old-fangled, no-mystery structure, and that’s because it’s basically the Star Trek version of an interplanetary action film, with a plot that doesn’t take you to many new frontiers." Furthermore, he called Star Trek Beyond "a somewhat diverting place holder, but one hopes that the next Star Trek movie will have what it takes to boldly go where no Star Trek movie has gone before." Mark Hugues of Forbes said, "Star Trek Beyond is the third-best Star Trek film of all time, creating the sort of emotional connection and familiar, powerful characterizations we loved in the original series while delivering top-notch action and the best Star Trek movie villain since First Contact's Borg Queen."
Despite its international success, Star Trek Beyond was met by critics who were less taken with the film. Kyle Smith of the New York Post gave the film 1½ stars out of 4 and he commented that the filmmakers "should have called it Star Trek Into Drowsiness." Smith later added, "Beyond is tepid when it’s trying to be emotional, moronic when it’s trying to be thrilling and unfunny when it’s trying to be non-unfunny. It lacks a storytelling module: Things just click into place when needed, as when Kirk commands Scotty to rev up a busted old spaceship, Scott says it’s impossible, and 14 seconds later everything is ready to rip." James Berardinelli of Reelviews gave 2½ stars out of 4, writing: "Star Trek Beyond is a Star Trek movie, although not an especially good one; The action sequences are frenetic, kinetic, and at times incoherent. This isn’t unexpected; it’s Lin’s trademark. But the plot, credited to Simon Pegg & Doug Jung, is pure Trek. Unfortunately, it’s also instantly forgettable." Dave Robinson of outlet Crash Landed writes that "Star Trek Beyond fails to push beyond its own roots and becomes just another very safe sci-fi popcorn movie in an increasingly crowded market, that will likely have you leaving the theatre feeling exactly as you entered." Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C+ and wrote, "[w]ith Beyond, it feels like just another summer tentpole with not enough going on underneath the tent."
Pine and Quinto have signed contracts to return as Kirk and Spock for a fourth film should one be made. In July 2016, Abrams confirmed plans for a fourth film and stated that Chris Hemsworth would return as Kirk's father, George, whom he played in the prologue of the first film. Later that month, Paramount confirmed the return of Hemsworth, as well as most of the Beyond cast, producers Abrams and Lindsey Weber, and writers J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay. That same month, Abrams had said that Chekov would not be recast, after Anton Yelchin died in a motor vehicle accident.