Maybe it’s true: movie and television studios really can learn lessons from the past. And it looks like Paramount is doing just that when it comes to the Star Trek movie franchise.
The studio, which revived Star Trek as a blockbuster reboot with director J.J. Abrams in 2009, is pushing back against any attempts for the television side of the franchise to capitalize on its success. The studio wants to keep Star Trek in just one place, and prevent the burnout that almost caused the demise of the entire franchise less than a decade ago.
Bryan Fuller, who is already busy prepping a dramatic “Munsters” remake called “Mockingbird Lane” for NBC, says he would love to work with Bryan Singer in developing a new Star Trek series. But that likely won’t happen — at least as long as Paramount is keen to making more movies.
“Bryan and I are big fans of Trek, and have discussed a take on what we would do, and we would love to do it,” Fuller told Entertainment Weekly. “I don’t think anything is going to happen in any official capacity until after the next movie comes out. And I’m sure it would due wisely under J.J. Abrams’ purview of what happens. He’s the guardian of Trek right now.”
Abrams, of course, directed Star Trek back to box office dominance. His 2009 film “Star Trek” pulled in $385.7 million domestically — more than any of the previous Star Trek films, even when adjusted for inflation. He is in the director’s chair once again for the highly anticipated sequel due out next year, and just about anything and everything that is Star Trek pretty much has to go through Abrams first, almost by default.
It’s not exactly clear how much Paramount could influence a television version of the franchise. When Viacom split in 2005, Paramount was given the film rights to Star Trek, while CBS Television Studios holds the actual brand rights to the franchise, including anything non-cinema related. That could mean that if CBS Television wanted to, it could move forward with a series.
But while Viacom insists that Paramount and CBS Television are separate, both companies still have common ownership in the form of Sumner Redstone and his family, who all retain super voting shares in both companies.
However, there was a lot to learn about Star Trek in the 1990s. At several points, there were two television series in production as well as films, to the point that there was Star Trek pretty much everywhere. “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” for example, never ran as a series on its own. Its first two years of life were shared with “Star Trek: The Next Generation” while its final five years were shared with “Star Trek: Voyager,” which was the flagship show on Viacom’s own UPN.
Films were being made at the same time, including “Star Trek: Generations,” “Star Trek: First Contact,” “Star Trek: Insurrection” and “Star Trek: Nemesis.” As films lost their box office clout, so did the television shows, with “Star Trek: Enterprise” actually getting the ax because of ratings in 2005 ahead of UPN’s own demise.
After a small break, Star Trek seems to be thriving again — but at the box office. And for now, Paramount is making sure that it stays thriving, by not over saturating the market.
That means Fuller and Singer will just have to wait. But there will be a time — sooner rather than later — when both Paramount and CBS Television — are ready to revive Star Trek again.