Star Trek's Alex Kurtzman Compares Franchise Expansion to Marvel Cinematic Universe

Is there a limit to how much Star Trek the world needs? The head of the franchise looks to Marvel for the answer.

Star Trek: Discovery showrunner Alex Kurtzman signed a $25 million deal with CBS that put him and his studio, Secret Hideout, in charge of expanding the Star Trek television franchise. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kurtzman revealed the mandate behind the Star Trek deal.

“I came to CBS and said, ‘Let's open this world up and see what else there is — and make sure that each show has its own identity,’" He explains. "My job is to run Discovery and, in the case of other shows, remain at 30,000 feet so I can weigh in meaningfully and significantly at all the critical junctures of the development.”

Kurtzman co-created Discovery, which pre-dates his current deal. Since signing the new deal, Kurtzman has brought back Patrick Stewart for a new series focusing on Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Star Trek: Short Treks debuted in 2018 and will continue following Discovery’s second season. The animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks is in the works, as well as a second animated series more geared towards children. There’s also a live-action Starfleet Academy series is in development.

So where does it end? Is there a limit to the number of Star Trek television series CBS can put out into the world? Kurtzman’s instincts say yes, but then again, maybe not.

“There has to be,” Kurtzman says. “At a certain point people are going to say, ‘It all feels so familiar.’ The only thing I'd throw back is that nobody seems to have said that about Marvel. Between film and TV, no one is tired of them. That means that in a world of a global audience, there is always room for more, but the more has to be meaningful."

In order to keep each new installment of the franchise unique and meaningful, Kurtzman plans to push the bounds of what people consider Star Trek to be.

"Our goal is to not only expand the definition of Star Trek and what has qualified as traditional Star Trek, but also to tell stories that are both self-contained in a very short period of time that also connect to the larger picture of what we're doing, not only in Discovery but in the world building of Trek in general," Kurtzman said.

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Star Trek: Discovery returns for its second season on CBS All Access on January 17th.