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Is Paramount Preparing For New Star Trek Series?

Movie studio explores getting back into television

It’s been nearly eight years since the last new episode of a Star Trek series was produced. And despite a film that made $257.7 million domestically in 2009, it seems that the powers behind the franchise are still shying away from television.

That is, possibly, until now.

Brad Grey, the president of Paramount Pictures, says he’s ready to get back into television. The studio already is co-producing a proposed television series based on its Beverly Hills Cop franchise, and now wants to do more. While much of the excitement in the mainstream media is who would run such a venture, Star Trek fans may have the chance to get a little giddy: Could a new Star Trek series be found in the future?

The possibility is strong. One of the primary obstacles tripping up a new Star Trek series is the fact that the rights for Star Trek are split between two companies. When “Star Trek: Enterprise” was still running, both the movie and television sides of the franchise were with a single company, Viacom. However, Viacom split up in early 2006 with Paramount leaving with only its movie franchise, and small screen work staying with what was now known as CBS Television.

That put Star Trek in a strange situation. The film rights remained with Paramount, which have produced the Star Trek films since 1979’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” All of the television series went to CBS Television, thus splitting the franchise between two companies.

CBS Television is believed to always have the right to produce a new television series, but reportedly stayed away from the franchise so as not to interfere with the film efforts now headed by director J.J. Abrams. Sources inside CBS Television have always implied that any new series would have to get the blessing of Paramount, which wasn’t exactly forthcoming, creating even more confusion over who would have the right to produce a television series.

But one observer told Airlock Alpha Friday that the rights to create a new series would actually lie with Paramount. CBS Television did retain rights to already-produced episodes of Star Trek over its long run on television, but do not necessarily have clear rights to producing new episodes. Those rights belong to Paramount, and if Paramount is looking to get back into television, it’s almost a given that one of the franchises on its slate is Star Trek.

So if Paramount is looking for a way to bring Star Trek back onto the small screen, when can fans expect to set their DVRs? According to The Wrap, it could take Paramount five years to get its television production arm up and running. Paramount is treating the television side as a startup, and it will obviously look for quick hits that can help develop it into the power that it once was before becoming CBS Television.

And that could mean a big non-CBS eye on Star Trek.

The Star Trek films have made more than $1.46 billion in worldwide box office since 1979, according to The Numbers, produced on a total budget of $500 million. The Star Trek franchise has made even more through six television series beginning with the original “Star Trek” that premiered in 1966 through the most recent series, “Enterprise,” which ended in 2005.

How much business is Paramount missing out on since leaving television? Well, in 2011, Paramount topped the box office with ticket sales of an amazing $2 billion on just 24 movies. At the same time, Viacom’s television side made $3.9 billion in television. And when Paramount has a much slower year like it did in 2012 when it made less than $1 billion at the box office — a decline of 50 percent — there are no television revenues to offset it.

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