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There Are Two Star Trek Movies Coming Out Next Year.

By James Nelson

You read that right. In 2016, in the fiftieth year since Star Trek first premiered in 1966, there will be two Star Trek movies, but only one of which will feature Kirk, Spock, and McCoy; and only one of which is sanctioned by the rights holders. Only one of which will probably be good, and I don’t think that’ll be the official one, either. So yes, I’m talking about Star Trek Beyond and Star Trek: Axanar.

The only official image from the production so far
The only official image from the production so far.

For those of you that don’t know, Star Trek Beyond is the sequel to 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. It has been in development since STID was in theaters and is currently being helmed by director Justin Lin (Fast & Furious) and with a screenplay written by Simon Pegg. Star Trek: Axanar is a completely crowdfunded fan film created by a brand new studio with absolutely zero authorization to make anything related to the franchise. You would think that I would be way more excited about the official sequel to a Hollywood blockbuster than I would about a crappy fan film made in some dude’s garage. Well, I’m not, and here’s why.

For the love of money star-trek-trailer-derp-edition

So when I heard way back in 2007 that Paramount was serious about making a new Trek movie I was excited. It had been five years since the last move (Star Trek: Nemesis) and two years since any new content had even touched a TV screen (Star Trek: Enterprise was cancelled in 2005). In my entire life it was the first time that there wasn’t a new episode of Star Trek on the air. In addition, I learned that it was going to involve new adventures with the original characters from TOS (personally my favorite crew).

I grew concerned though, as the PR tours started happening and details came out about the cast and crew of the new movies. JJ Abrams, the director, had never watched Star Trek before. He was a self professed Star Wars fan (and there’s nothing wrong with that). Of the writers, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci only one of them considered themselves a fan of the series (Orci was more a fan of The Next Generation than TOS). Most of the cast as well had never really watched the series seriously (except Karl Urban, and it shows in his nuanced portrayal of McCoy). But, the movie came out and I loved it. It felt like a fitting tribute to the original series (with some fan service) and enough original story to stand on its own feet. It was creative and at its heart felt like an epic episode of TOS (and before I get hate mail, I know there are issues in the area of how Kirk was portrayed, like how he got promoted up, his general disrespect for authority, and some continuity issues, like transwarp beaming, but you can’t make a new series of movies without some compromise).

So I waited for the next film.

I will avoid my usual tirade on the piece of garbage called a film, but I will say this: Orci and Kurtzman did actually try to inject some Trek concepts into the movie, it just felt like the inclusion of Khan and the ridiculous amount of fan service ruined the film (plus, Khan is INDIAN!!!!!!!!)

This represents the respect STID had for Trek
This represents the respect STID had for Trek

Anyways, the problems with STID began to show me what I had expected all along, this is meant to be a Hollywood blockbuster first and foremost, a Trek movie second.

Star Trek Beyond’s troubled development


Then they announced Star Trek Beyond. I was infinitely less excited, but I felt with Abrams moving to make Star Wars, Damon Lindelof moving to make his new TV show, and Orci (an actual Trek fan) moving to the directors chair that things were looking up. They would have to prove themselves to me, but I was willing to. After all, there have been bad Trek movies and that didn’t kill me (or the franchise) before.

Then Orci was removed from the directors chair (he’s been moved to producer). Simon Pegg was brought in to write a new script because the old one was “too Star Trek-y” and that the studio wanted it to be more like the Avengers, a fun “brightly colored” movie populated by Trek characters. Justin Lin, who had been brought on as director by that point, went out on damage control to talk about his love of Trek and being a lifelong trekkie. Though I don’t want to call him a liar, it felt a little bit odd to come out and talk about his personal Trek experiences AFTER Pegg ran his mouth about the script shakeup.

All this is to say, these movies have not been made with love of the franchise in mind. It seems that the studio is looking to make their own Marvel success story in this age where nerds can wear their love on their sleeves (and are guaranteed to spend their money), but Trek has never been about money. It has been about the love of a concept of adventure and infinite diversity in infinite combinations. Wrath of Khan was made on $11 million. Trek has made money, sure, but as a low budget success telling serious stories in a fun way.

Enter the fans

Yeah, that's actually George Takei.
Yeah, that’s actually George Takei.

This has not gone unnoticed by fans. In the absence of an ongoing series of Star Trek fans wanted newer stories following their favorite characters, and the books were not enough (and for some neither was Enterprise). Fans began to make their own shows. The first I remember seeing (and there have been a ton that you can check out here) was Star Trek: New Voyages. I don’t want to call it bad, because I commend them for their effort, but it’s not the same quality as you would expect of a major production. That being said, the stories are solid, and they have heart to them. Many shows have cropped up since telling newer and better stories and this has been possible mainly because 1.) no money is made off the name. It’s all pushed out through YouTube, usually,  2.) until recently, the series has been dormant and none of this has been seen to really affect the franchise, 3.) advances in CGI have allowed for indie film makers to have access to better models which means better, higher quality sequences. Some of the original actors, like George Takei and Walter Koenig have even appeared in these films, lending an increased authenticity to these productions.

ncc 1701

Star Trek: Axanar is the culmination of this movement. It’s a movie that’s being developed by Ares Studios and has gone through three crowd funding campaigns to make this movie possible. It has not been without its controversy (some have raised issues with the transparency of the studios spending of donations). So why on earth would I be excited about this?

Look at the trailer


Yeah. I know that it doesn’t look as good as STID, but the CGI, the sets, the uniforms, and the acting are all on par with everything we’ve seen in any of the previous Trek series. In addition, many of these actors have actually had major roles in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise. The movie is even built off a plot hook in TOS episode “Whom God Destroys.” The trailer above is for a short documentary style film that I will link below, but the feature length film will be about the Battle of Axanar, a battle that pitted the fate of the Federation against the Klingon Empire and ended the Four Years War between the two nations, and is an era of cannon not previously explored by the movies or films. So I’m excited because it’s a film by fans, for fans. It looks good and has serious Trek talent behind the screen. The movie is set to go into production in October, so we should know more by then, but it’s possible that Paramount or CBS (the two rights holders) could feel threatened and squash it. I’m hoping we’ll get to see it, and I’m hoping Star Trek Beyond overcomes its false starts and is great too. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have two great Trek movies next year?

Here’s the full “Prelude to Axanar” short film below.


For more posts, Check these out below:

14 Weirdest Things to Happen to Miles O’Brien

There and Back Again: How the Star Trek Convention Changed Me

Haters Gonna Hate: My Take on Star Wars and Why I’m Worried

Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection (Star Trek I, II, III, IV, V, VI + The Captain’s Summit Bonus Disc) [Blu-ray]

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Be First to Comment

  1. brad brad September 2, 2015

    i don’t like the new Garth…

  2. nerdunion nerdunion September 2, 2015

    I’m not particularly a fan of him either, but I think the rest of the cast will make up for it.

  3. Ytrog Ytrog September 3, 2015

    I would also like to point out Star Trek: Renegades from the same team that made Star Trek: Of Gods and Man. It’s director is Tim Russ.

  4. Kenny Gebhardt Kenny Gebhardt October 21, 2015

    I am so sorry to give a bad review because I love Star Trek and applaud those who make the fan films and invest their time and energy so that we can all continue to enjoy Star Trek. That being said…Renegades was horrible. The acting was subpar and overdone and the script was weak at best and full of bizarre seens that just didn’t need to be there. The Captain, apparently a child of Khan, was cranky and self centered and not likeable. With the acting chops of the cast I guess I expected so much more. Thanks for trying Renegades but I just didn’t like it Axanar on the other hand, and based on the short documentary film, looks AWESOME!!! and I can’t wait. It looks to be amazing.

  5. Joe danskin Joe danskin October 21, 2015

    Don’t get your hopes up on Axanar or Renegades to much. It’s a matter of time before Paramount drops ANOTHER C&D on those productions. They raised, and improperly spent 2 million dollars… although, the proof of concept Axanar has out there, fans should rightly be pissed off that Ares, has spent all of the money raised in previous campaigns (the 2nd, was said to fund the feature length movie ) and signed a 5 year, $500k lease for their studio. It’s also no secret that their sets are no where complete, and have to go to other facilities to film content, that isn’t even in the feature film. Good luck fans. . You’re waiting for a pink elephant :-/

    • summoner2100 summoner2100 October 21, 2015

      Joe danskin – I debate your choice of words with “improperly spent”. I can’t speak for Renegades, as I didn’t back them, but Axanar has ALWAYS been upfront with what they were doing. Look on the kickstarterIndiegogo pages, and read carefully because you obviously have difficulty with big words, and it says COMPLETELY how the money will be spent. Always has. If you look on the Axanar website, you will also find the fully disclosed budget done to tax standards.. Something they did not have to do. None of the other Star Trek fan productions have done this, or anything close. Take your hater spam elsewhere..

    • R Johnson R Johnson October 22, 2015

      @Joe Danskin., You are full of CRAP! Alec Peters has accounted for every dime. Alec made it perfectly clear that the first fundraiser was to build the sets, rent the studio, and make sure they what was need to start production. The sets are almost finished, filming have already begun. The second fundraiser was to make sure the they would able to make he full feature. Alec Peter’s has been for than forthcoming on were the money went and how it was spent. Your Sir, are an ASS!!! And even Alec would call you an ass

    • Lucas Lucas October 23, 2015

      Joe you are a moron. Axanar is the ONLY fan production to actual PUBLISH their financials. Everything you stated is bullcrap.

      So go lie about something else, you clearly have no freaking clue what you are talking about.

  6. Jeffrey Abell Jeffrey Abell October 21, 2015

    I agree with James Nelson. He has expressed my very thoughts.

  7. Dave Dave October 21, 2015

    Axanar coming out 2016?
    IF it reaches it’s full 1.3 million dollar funding that is… i sure hope so because it looks amazing.

  8. jedi450 jedi450 October 22, 2015

    It DOES have CBS’s nod (CBS actually owns the rights to the IP).

  9. The Federation Times The Federation Times October 22, 2015

    I was also disappointed with Renegades. Given the number of professionals involved, it didn’t have even a semi-professional feel. The same with “Of Gods And Men”. I hear that Renegades was shopped as a series to CBS who declined but Renegades will go ahead as a web-based series with about 1 episode per month (12 eps in the pipeline).

    Star Trek Continues is the best of the TOS fan fiction productions. It’s got the look, feel and sound of TOS down pat. The stories are mostly good but as with most fan fiction productions, it’s the acting that’s its weak spot. I think it’s much better than New Voyages which is also watchable.

    Another fan production I came across was Star Trek: Exeter made 10+ years ago. Only 2 eps made; the first was bad, the second I found surprisingly good.

    Like James, I enjoyed the 2009 Star Trek movie but thinking on it afterwards, it was full of plot holes and some idiocy. STID was simply an insult to fans – Star Wars in the Star Trek universe. I can’t fault the actors, the blame for that fiasco lies squarely with the writer, the director and the studio that okayed it.

    Given that JJ has moved on to Star Wars, Kurtzman went to a different project and Orci was removed (however you interpret that) as director, I thought things were looking up for Star Trek Beyond. I hadn’t heard that Orci’s original script was considered too Star Trek-y but that it was simply bad. If James is right about why the new script was commissioned and Paramount’s desire for an Avengers-esque money-spinning franchise set in the ST universe is correct, then Beyond’s prospects in appealing to real fans just got decidedly worse.

    I thought Prelude to Axanar (I saw it months ago) was very strong for a fan production. I’ve heard that Axanar itself won’t be released as a full-length movie but in 4 episodes. I suspect that the funding the project has raised is making both CBS and Paramount a little nervous. Paramount own the rights to the movies so I think there’s a real possibility the axe will be brought down on Axanar before it’s finished.

    Given the number of fan productions out there, there’s obviously a real appetite for a series-based Star Trek which CBS is not currently capitalising on. Their hands appear to be tied in that respect by some deal involving Bad Robot (who wanted a new TV series set in the nuTrek universe but which CBS declined to make) and CBS are not in a position to make a new series even if they wanted to. Word is that once Beyond is out, whatever deal/condition is in play will expire or be void and CBS will announce a new series late in 2016.

    My own feeling is that any future Star Trek series should be made by Netflix, HBO, AMC, Amazon or Showtime as these studios don’t have to pander to advertisers in the way the TV networks do. Plus, episodes from those studios tend to run 10-20 minutes longer than TV networks produce, allowing for more in-depth storytelling.

    If Paramount and CBS don’t get their acts together, they’re in danger of losing control of the franchise as fans will take the reigns. Axanar isn’t licensing any Star Trek trademarks, props, etc from CBS, so they could market merchandise based on what they create within Axanar (uniforms, insignia, action figures, etc). I’m not a lawyer and maybe they would need some kind of derivative license to do that. But rattling that revenue cage might be enough to unsettle CBS into some action that closes down Axanar (CBS make $20 million/yr from merchandise).

    Let’s hope not.

  10. Stephen Stephen October 22, 2015

    IMO, the main difference between Axanar and ST:B is this: ST:B is designed to make money for the franchise, and Axanar is designed to promote the spirit of classic Trek.

    CBS isn’t going to lose money because of Axanar. They’ll lose money if they hurt the franchise. The only ‘logical’ reason for CBS to squash Axanar (or any fan production) is because they would deem it damaging to their bottom line (or they’re simply jealous of someone else proving success over their production). So, sure… they could kill it… but I think it would be at their own risk.

    With a powerhouse like Disney pushing out SW movies that are going to make tens of billions, CBS needs all the help it can get. So does Trek. Again, IMO, all Trek creators need to step up to take on not CBS or Paramount, but Disney.

  11. Aldo Chella Aldo Chella October 22, 2015

    Axanar … three fundraisers and they still need to raise more than $500K to finish it. It sure does look nice.

    Of course, every time they have gone to the well for money, and raised more than was requested, they’ve moved the bar so they can raise more money. Mr. Peters, aka Garth of Izar, and his beautiful wife sure seem to be doing a lot of travelling on the con circuit in the mean time (which, of course, they say is needed to keep the fundraising momentum going).

    I’ve contributed to the fund raisers so far, but that’s the end of my involvement.

    • Lucas Lucas October 23, 2015

      Actually only 2 Fundraisers. The first was for Prelude to Axanar which they finished.

      And the second was for the studio and sets if you bothered to read their Kickstarter.

      And Diana is not Alec’s wife. But why should facts matter?

      These guys work their asses off and all you do is bitch?

  12. James James October 22, 2015

    I hope Axanar is good. If not, at least we have Star Trek Continues!!! OMG I love this series!! It’s like having new episodes of TOS

  13. Gabe Gabe October 24, 2015

    CBS is not killing any fan based non-profit productions. That is their policy. So Renegades, Axanar, Horizon, Starship Exeter etc are all completely safe.

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