In a recent article by io9 it was revealed that Star Trek Beyond was barely talked about at CinemaCon 2016. The article focused on the perplexing marketing strategy that Paramount was using. Primarily the fact that the studio was barely talking about one of its biggest movies of the year. It’s even more confusing when you realize the 50th anniversary of Star Trek is this year, and there’s a lot of excitement about the new Star Trek series coming out soon. Star Trek has one of the oldest and most fanatical fanbases of any franchise and yet, Paramount seems to be dragging its heels with Star Trek and CBS’s decision to make the new Star Trek Series an anthology tells me something that frankly scares the crap out of me….they have no idea what to do with Star Trek.
First off moviepilot and cheat sheet both have great rundowns of the new show and there is a lot to be excited about. I do have a lot of hope that the new show could be good and I am almost always the glass half empty guy at Nerd Union. That being said, recent rumors of an anthology series for Star Trek leave me worried, but not for the reasons you think. Star Trek is always at its best when on the small screen. Not to say the movies aren’t good and can’t be great, Wrath of Khan is one of the best movies ever made. Its that the show shines when it gives the characters a long time to build up, to show friendships develop and relationships evolve. Watching Kirk, and Spock build their friendship. Seeing McCoy and Spock spar or someone explaining humanity to Data, watching Worf struggle with his heritage or seeing O’Brian suffer, seeing T’Pol change so much, this is what made Star Trek great! With an anthology or a movie that is a lot harder to do.
The first season of True Detective is amazing and does show an incredible depth and tons of character development. The more I think about it, an anthology is a perfect and safe way to do a lot of that. After all, you still get the episodic nature of the show but if the dynamic of the season doesn’t work or can’t be maintained then you just get a new cast. But, all this put together though is very very troubling. For one thing, Paramount wants to turn Star Trek into a major summer blockbuster. With the exception of Nemesis and Insurrection every Star Trek has made a respectable amount of money. Though none of them have dominated the box office like say, Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Avengers. This is what Paramount wanted from the Star Trek reboot in 2009 and it did make a fair amount of money, just not THAT kind of money and many of the executives at Paramount seem to have come to that conclusion. They don’t know how to react to it. They have this diehard fan base that will lose its mind if it doesn’t have new content. So much so that they will create some pretty elaborate and impressive fanfiction. I am crushed that Axanar might be killed and could even kill fanfiction. Yet that diehard fan base doesn’t result in the kind of money Paramount would expect. The result is a franchise that will make a consistent amount of money but never enough to justify a permanent development team in the eyes of most studios.
There is another major problem with this, since the rights for Star Trek are split between CBS and Paramount it puts Star Trek even deeper into limbo. CBS is making a ton of money on CSI, NCIS and other very formulac shows that Star Trek just doesn’t fit with. So CBS decided to make Star Trek the flagship of a new streaming service. I was very annoyed by this, but I WILL pay money for any Star Trek show they make, no matter what. Unfortunately, that is the problem. A core and devoted audience with limited commercial appeal will never be a priority and will only be used as a way to make a quick buck by major studios. By restricting it to an online service it makes it much harder to catch fire and will only gather a larger appeal if fans fall in love with it and spread it.
So here we are…Star Trek relegated to fast and furious style movies, with half baked call backs to better movies, and niche shows that will, at best last a season. The worst part of all of this is that Star Trek makes just enough money that neither Paramount or CBS will sell the rights to another studio so this is the state of affairs Trekkies will be living with for the near future. I really hope I am wrong and the new show is a great commercial success and the new movie isn’t just a mindless action movie but nothing I’ve seen gives me a lot of hope. Everyone attached to the show looks amazing but how many people are really going to buy into a CBS streaming service? The people who watch CBS shows tend to watch it on cable anyway so that only leaves diehard fans. Welcome to the future of Star Trek my friends. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to drink and watch Deep Space Nine.
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