CBS and Viacom have announced plans to merge, bringing back together two media entities that split apart over a decade ago. The merger puts the Star Trek film rights under the same media umbrella as the rest of the Star Trek franchise for the first time since that corporate split took place.
Viacom is the parent company of Paramount Pictures and the former parent company of CBS. Viacom spun CBS off as an independent entity in 2005. The split had major effects on the Star Trek franchise. Paramount Pictures maintained the franchise film rights, including the rights to make more Star Trek movies. CBS maintained the television rights, future television rights, and licensing rights to the Star Trek franchise.
As fans saw it, this split came around the same time that Star Trek: Enterprise concluded, bringing Star Trek’s 18-year continuous run on television to a close. It was the punctuation mark on the end of what is considered by some to be the franchise's golden age, which began with Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987.
There was no new Star Trek until 2009 when Paramount launched its movie reboot of the franchise from director/producer JJ Abrams. Those films — Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond — were the first Star Trek movies made independent of a television counterpart, featuring a cast that has only appeared in Star Trek films and never on a Star Trek television series.
The reunification of the Star Trek franchise could allow for greater synergy between the film and television branches of the franchise. Star Trek returned to television in 2017 with the debut of Star Trek: Discovery. The show’s success paved the way for more Star Trek television projects, including Star Trek: Short Treks, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Lower Decks, and the untitled Nickelodeon Star Trek series. There’s also a Star Trek: Section 31 pilot in development, a direct spinoff of Discovery.
The Star Trek films have struggled lately. Star Trek Beyond underperformed at the box office when it opened in 2016, the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise. Paramount Pictures attempted to push ahead with plans for Star Trek 4, which would have brought back Chris Hemsworth as George Kirk, father of Chris Pine's Capt. James T. Kirk. But reports suggest Paramount wanted to reduce the film’s budget by reducing the payout to its stars, which caused Pine to back out. Hemsworth also backed out of the process, implying in interviews that the script didn’t interest him.
What do you think the CBS-Viacom merger means for Star Trek? Let us know in the comments.