CBS chief creative officer David Nevins has a vision for Star Trek’s future as CBS and Viacom merge to become ViacomCBS. Nevins spoke at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Communications & Entertainment Conference in Los Angeles on Thursday. According to Deadline, he explained how he saw Star Trek as a key brand that Viacom and CBS can nurture together. “We really believe in not only serving inside our own ecosystem but serving people outside,” Nevins said at the event. “What we’re trying to do right now with Star Trek is build that brand. We want it to get younger and more relevant to people.” He referred to the merger as creating a “virtuous eco-system” where “If you’re smart about it, you can create a lot of value.”
The CBS and Viacom merger brings 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 and the rights to make new Star Trek movies. CBS maintained the television rights, future television rights, and licensing rights to the Star Trek franchise.
The split came around the same time that Star Trek: Enterprise ended, bringing Star Trek’s 18-year continuous run on television, which began with Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987, to a close. 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 hit a speedbump earlier this year. Star Trek 4 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. Another Star Trek film based on a pitch by Quentin Tarantino is now in development.
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