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Ultra HD Blu-ray
4K Ultra HD packaging logo

4K Ultra H(igh)D(efinition) Blu-ray, or 4K UHD (BD), is a Blu-ray Disc format offering 4K HD 2160p resolution digital video and slated to become the successor of the 1080p resolution Blu-ray home video entertainment format. Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness were released in 4K UHD on 14 June 2016, [1] five months after the home video disc format proper was introduced to the public. Star Trek Beyond was released in 4K UHD on 1 November 2016. [2] The quick release on the format was due to the fact that these films – the first ones for Star Trek to be entirely produced digitally – were already shot at the high resolution standards required for their respective large screen theatrical releases. (see also: Remaster)

A 4K UHD BD release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Director's Cut) was planned, made possible as the film had already been remastered in 4K UHD resolution for the occasion of the film's 35th anniversary, which resulted in the 2016 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Director's Cut) Blu-ray disc release – though it had to be downscaled to the 1080p resolution format for the underlying Blu-ray release. [3]

Despite initially being marketed as such on some retailer sites, such as initially (but who later dispensed with the practise), the 4K UHD BD format no longer employs the geo-restricting region format of its Blu-ray predecessor, following HD DVD as the second home video format to forego geo-restriction since its introduction by the DVD format in the early 1990s. [4] As neither HD Blu-ray format is beholden to the NTSC/PAL dichotomy any longer (see here), this essentially means that an American 4K UHD release doubles as a worldwide release, as do releases debuting anywhere else in the world for that matter, which had been the case with the Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline release.

Introduction hindrances[]

While the DVD had been a commercial break-out success from the moment it became widely available, its intended successor Blu-ray suffered from a much slower consumer acceptance for a wide variety of reasons (see main article). And it is indeed almost the exact same variety of reasons – the replacement, and digital alternatives issues in particular – which had led to the even slower adoption of the 4K UHD disc format. As of 2023, the intended Blu-ray disc successor is still only appealing to the relatively small niche market of affluent "film buffs". This is to a point substantiated by the professional industry site The Numbers, which has reported a combined North America (US and Canada) sale of US$331.2 million for all physical home video formats of the three alternate reality films as of June 2020 (excepting the hereafter mentioned 2019 release for which no figures were recorded). However these figures encompass all three disc formats, and it is save to assume, given the substantial retail price differential between 4K UHD BD and its two preceding formats, that the former only accounts for a small part of it.

The latter point was even more clearly demonstrated a year later with the release of the Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection box set, which was a 4K UHD exclusive release (even though Blu-ray film versions were also included in the set[1]); one year into its release, in October 2022, it had only realized sales of US$1,7 million, which at an average retail price of US$80, translates into a modest 21,300 units sold. [2] [5]

Replacement issues are playing an even greater role in the case of 4K UHD as accelerated advancements in display technology has already resulted in the commercial introduction of the very first 8K UHD 4320p resolution (the intended successor of 4K UHD and starting to approximate something akin to pseudo-3D) television sets in late 2019, a mere six years after the 4K UHD format consumer market introduction and long before it has even reached a modicum of its full market potential – even television transmissions in 4K UHD were still virtually non-existent as of 2021. The early advent of 8K UHD has the real potential of making less affluent consumers decide to skip the 4K UHD phase altogether in order to avoid what they call the "double-dipping" phenomenon.

It has become the primary reason why the in 2016 announced 4K UHD disc version of The Wrath of Khan (Director's Cut) did not see the day of light until September 2021 (it has seen a very limited September 2017 theatrical release though [6]), even though the remastering work to 4K UHD standards for that film has long since been completed. It also explained why no other 4K UHD projects for any of the other older Star Trek titles had even been considered up until that point in time, when discounting the 2019 Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline 4K UHD release, which was essentially a mere reissue of the 2016 individual releases of the three alternate reality films. Having been the only Star Trek release in three years time, it is in itself indicative of the slow consumer adoption of the 4K UHD disc format.

Still, both Trekcore [7] and [8] reported in July 2019 that preliminary talks were resumed for a remastered 4K UHD release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (The Director's Edition). [9] These talks were concluded in 2021 with the announcement on 7 July 2021 that a 4K UHD version was planned for a 2022 Paramount+ release, where it debuted on 5 April 2022, to be followed six months later by several home video release versions. [10]. It was also announced that the long awaited Wrath of Khan 4K UHD version would finally be released in 2021, albeit not as a standalone release, but as part of a The Original 4-Movie Collection box set on the occasion of Star Trek's 55th anniversary, [11] collecting the first four Star Trek films in 4K UHD [12] – though an individual release has followed suit a year later.

Nonetheless, the potential of 4K UHD as a physical disc format becoming economically viable in the long run remains to some extent, as producers of both HD television sets and HD playback machines increasingly incorporate the 4K UHD display option into their newer (affordable) models – provided that the pace of display technology is slowed down somewhat by delaying the introduction of commercially available 8K UHD content of which there is none as of 2021. That being said however, the home video format industry (as in, the physical discs producers and distributors) is very much impotent to counteract the rapid growth in popularity of the digital alternatives, the HD video-on-demand (VoD) streaming services in particular as provided by, for example, Netflix, Prime Video, or CBS All Access, each of them in various stages of preparation of streaming in 4K UHD as well. Ironically, the introduction of the 4K UHD BD in February 2016 was actually promoted by the industry as a means to combat the streaming media, [13] which only served to prompt these same streaming companies to start preparing for the advent of 4K UHD themselves, Vimeo having been the first one to do so, already in December 2014. [14]

Star Trek release chronology[]

Note: release dates where released first; other territory release dates, if any, are near-concurrent including those for North America.

For seven years, only the Star Trek films saw 4K UHD releases. That situation ended in May 2023, when the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds became the first Star Trek television production to see a 4K UHD release.

Star Trek films[]

Date Product released Covers
Individual releases
14 June (North America) Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness Star Trek 4K UHD US cover Star Trek Into Darkness 4K UHD US cover
1 November (North America) Star Trek Beyond Star Trek Beyond 4K UHD US cover
5 September (UK) Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director's Edition, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - Director's Cut, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - Director's Cut Star Trek The Motion Picture - The Director's Edition 4K UHD UK cover Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan - Director's Cut UK 4K UHD cover Star Trek The Search for Spock UK 4K UHD cover Star Trek IV The Voyage Home UK 4K UHD cover Star Trek V The Final Frontier UK 4K UHD cover Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country - Director's Cut UK 4K UHD cover
3 April (UK and Scandinavia) Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek Nemesis Star Trek Generations 4K UHD UK cover Star Trek First Contact 4K UHD UK cover Star Trek Insurrection 4K UHD UK cover Star Trek Nemesis 4K UHD UK cover
Special Editions
5 September (UK) Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director's Edition Complete Adventure Star Trek The Motion Picture - The Director's Edition Complete Adventure UK cover
15 February (Germany) Star Trek - 3 Movie Collection Star Trek Trilogy The Kelvin Timeline 4K UHD Germany cover
15 July (North America) Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline Star Trek Trilogy The Kelvin Timeline 4K UHD cover
31 August (Australia) Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection Star Trek The Original 4-Movie Collection Australian 4K UHD cover
5 September (UK) Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture 6-Movie Collection Star Trek The Original Motion Picture 6-Movie Collection UK 4K UHD cover
3 April (UK) Star Trek: The Next Generation 4-Movie Collection Star Trek The Original 4-Movie Collection UK 4K UHD UK cover
VHS • VCD • LaserDisc • DVD • Blu-ray • 4K Ultra HD • Digital

Television Star Trek[]

The first season of Strange New Worlds became the very first 4K UHD release of a Star Trek television production because it had already been produced to 4K HD 2160p resolution standards by using the new 4K+ ultra high resolution ARRI Alexa cameras, [15] which meant that a relatively costly remastering was not necessary to have a home video format released in the UHD format. As a result, this release therefore saw another first for the Star Trek franchise as well. Because special features are in Kurtzman-era Star Trek recorded simultaneously with the main live-action production in the same resolution standards, meant that this release has become the first one to have all those special features included on the 4K UHD discs as well, instead of having to resort of having them included in the set on separate Blu-ray discs in the 1080p resolution.

Even though the fourth season of Star Trek: Discovery was concurrently shot to 4K HD standards, a 4K UHD Blu-ray release for that season had never been under advisement by the franchise. This may have been due to the generic societal trend of dwindling physical home video sales, only reinforced in this case by the continued skepticism of that series by the critical fanbase, which has remained unabated since its debut, contrary to the much better received Strange New Worlds – and the most likely reason why the latter-day foreign Paramount+ subsidiaries, such as SkyShowtime, opted not to stream the series at all, yet again in stark contrast to Strange New Worlds which was invariably part of their inaugural catalogs.

The somewhat unexpected 4K UHD release of Strange New Worlds got the wishful fan expectations up for a similar release of the third season of Star Trek: Picard, which had at that point in time become the absolute fan favorite as the most well received Kurtzman-era Star Trek production by far. [16] The ardent fan hopes and the accompanying fan petition drive notwithstanding though, [17] such a release had never been in the making either, albeit for a more prosaic reason in this specific case; that season had not been produced to 4K HD standards with a remastering deemed far too cost-prohibitive considering the fast shrinking home video physical disc market. [18][19]

Season releases[]

Date Product released Cover
14 May (UK) SNW Season 1 4K Ultra HD SNW Season 1 4K UHD cover UK edition
4 December (UK) SNW Season 2 4K Ultra HD SNW Season 2 4K UHD cover UK edition
DVD • Blu-ray • 4K Ultra HD • Digital



  1. Until 2023 it had been common practice that, at least where Star Trek is concerned, to have Blu-ray disc copies (which are the ones that contain the underlying film's special features, commonly not included on 4K UHD discs) also included in 4K UHD home video sets – alongside digital copies for North America only.
  2. While the as very high perceived retail price has undoubtedly played its part, it must also be realized that each of the Star Trek films has seen numerous prior home video format release variants, including HD ones, causing "double-dipping" weariness with fan customers.

External links[]