Earlier this year, J.J. Abrams let the Star Trek fandom breathe a sigh of relief when he said that Paramount and CBS were dropping a lawsuit they had filed against a fan-made film. The project, which is called Star Trek: Axanar, was barred from beginning production after it crowdfunded more than $1 million dollars from eager Trekkies. However, it seems like the filmmaker may have spoken too soon. Recent reports have confirmed that the two studios are still pursuing their lawsuit against the fan project.
Earlier this week, Paramount filed paperwork with the court to have Abrams’ remarks dismissed as an irrelevant third party statement. Both studios also refused to provide the studio behind Axanar with any communications they had between Abrams or director Justin Lin about the case because the two creators are not authorized to speak on behalf of the studios.
“J.J. Abrams is a producer/director of certain Star Trek Copyrighted Works and Justin Lin was the director of Star Trek Beyond. Neither Mr. Abrams nor Mr. Lin is an authorized representative of either of the Plaintiffs,” the studios explained. “A third party’s statement about the merits of this lawsuit has absolutely no bearing on the amount of money Defendants’ obtained by their infringing conduct, nor does it bear on any other aspect of damages.”
With the lawsuit still pending, Axanar has released a statement about the proceedings and thanked followers for their support. “While we’re grateful to receive the public support of JJ Abrams and Justin Lin, as the lawsuit remains pending, we want to make sure we go through all the proper steps to make sure all matters are settled with CBS and Paramount....There is still a lot of work to do, but receiving this kind of public support helps immensely.”
The whole issue began earlier this year when Abrams told fans at a Star Trek event that Paramount would be dropping the lawsuit. The director said both he and Lin were dismayed the studio’s handling of the situation, saying it “wasn’t an appropriate way to deal with the fans.”
“The fans of Star Trek are part of this world. We went to the studio and pushed them to stop this lawsuit. Within a few weeks, it’ll be announced that this lawsuit is going away.”
However, it looks like Abrams jumped the gun - or phaser - with that prediction.
Fans are still stunned by both the studios and their unwillingness to support the fan-made film. After all, CBS has a long history of tolerating non-monetized fan projects as they tend to publicize fanbases. However, in light of the network’s upcoming debut of Star Trek: Discovery, it isn’t impossible to think the studio is trying to protect their exclusive rights to the franchise.
As for Axanar, the creators think the studios were simply threatened by the scale of their fan-work. The film had recruited production experts to work on Axanar. "While some may call it a 'fan film' as we are not licensed by CBS, Axanar has professionals working in front and behind the camera, with a fully-professional crew -- many of whom have worked on Star Trek itself -- who ensure Axanar will be the quality of Star Trek that all fans want to see,” the film’s IndieGoGo page explained.
For now, fans who were wanting to see the large-scale production will have to wait a bit longer. It’s possible that both studios are sitting on the lawsuit as they ponder their next moves, so Trekkies should keep their fingers crossed and pray the project lives long and prospers.