I can’t corroborate this account of how JJ Abrams ended up directing the recent Star Trek films, but this is allegedly what happened. If you know different, sound off in the comments and I’ll correct the article as appropriate.
In 2006, CBS and Paramount split into two distinct companies, rather than being two divisions of the same company. The split was essentially about licensing rights. Paramount got the movies and everything that went with them, and CBS got the TV series and all the went with those.
The split also included a clause which prevented CBS from competing with Paramount for 2 years – the idea being that Paramount would be able to develop a movie in that time-frame that would be used to bring the mainstream cinema-going audience into the Star Trek franchise.
A script for “Star Trek: The Beginning” was written by Erik Jendresen and set on the USS Spartan and was to be about the United Earth Stellar Navy and the crew of this ship. The movie was to start 4 years after the Terra Prime incidents in Star Trek: Enterprise and was to act as a bridge between Enterprise and The Original Series.
The USS Spartan is a prototype Starfleet vessel and is stolen by one Commander Tiberius Chase – Kirk’s maternal grandfather – who wants to use the ship to fight the Romulans. The Federation/Starfleet did not agree with Chase’s opinion of Romulans as his father was a member of Terra Prime (the isolationist organization that appeared at the end of the Enterprise TV series) – so his views are dismissed by association (a sins of the father thing).
To quote Memory Alpha:
According to Jendresen, the film would have bridged the gap between the end of Star Trek: Enterprise and the beginning of The Original Series. It was Jendresen’s hope that the story, which depicted the Earth-Romulan War, would be part of a trilogy of films. Jendresen went on to blame a “regime change” at Paramount Studios for the death of the film. The story, which Jendressen quoted as being “big and epic”, would have taken place “a couple of years after the end of the events of Enterprise but well before the original series, and it would look at the inciting incident that started everything“. Jendresen also explained that the story would have focused on a small group of people, particularly one character, but it would not have been a traditional Star Trek captain or crew. In addition, it would have featured “a couple of ships, including a principal ship“. The central character of the trilogy, stated Jendresen, would have been a progenitor of James T. Kirk named Tiberius Chase.
There’s far more background on the what the story would have been about over at Memory Alpha.
The movie was about to go into pre-production when there was a regime change at Paramount. The new people in charge didn’t like Jendresen’s script so wunderkind JJ Abrams, fresh off the success of Mission Impossible 3, was hired by Paramount to direct and re-imagine the franchise.
Abrams hired his buddies – Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman – to pen a new script. These were writers on the Lost TV series (and we all know how that series ended). Orci’s writing abilities in particular, seem to be held in low regard by a lot of people. Neither seemed well acquainted with the Star Trek universe.
In order to extend the time-frame of the non-compete clause by another 2 years, Paramount agreed to sell all Star Trek merchandizing rights to CBS.
Abrams wanted to create a TV series with brand recognition so he attempted to get a derivative license from CBS for an Alternative Universe, not an Alternative Timeline in Trek. CBS didn’t want to give over the rights either to a new series or for merchandise. CBS already owned the merchandizing rights for any nuTrek (anything Star Trek created by Abrams) due to the second 2-year deal (but apparently Bad Robot – Abrams’ production company – owns 15%). However, merchandise for nuTrek doesn’t sell.
Abrams originally demanded that CBS lock away all Prime Universe merchandise and let him do a new series based on his re-imagining of Star Trek. CBS said no.
Then Roberto Orci pitched a second series idea but without the merchandising demands. Again, CBS said no.
Finally, just before Star Trek Into Darkness came out, Abrams/Bad Robot pitched a third series idea. And, once again, CBS declined.
Into Darkness didn’t make as much at the box office as the 2009 Star Trek movie, profit-wise. Star Trek (2009) had a budget of $150 million and made $420.2 million worldwide. The budget doesn’t include the advertising costs which are usually in the same region as the budget. Into Darkness cost $185 million and made $467.4 million worldwide. Advertising again would have cost about the same as the movie’s budget. So, overall, Into Darkness did worse at the box office. Studios often use domestic (US) box office takings as a gauge for how successful a movie has been, rather than worldwide takings (a myopic view). Through that lens, Star Trek (2009) made 84% profit (not accounting for advertising costs) in the USA, whereas Into Darkness made just 20%.
There a much more thorough breakdown of of the profitability of Star Trek movies here.
So Into Darkness wasn’t seen as much of a success in the domestic US market. “The success of one movie does not mean the success of a brand” is was what CBS is reputed to have said. So that killed off any notion of there being a nutTrek series anytime in the future.
As has been stated before, JJ Abrams was not a Star Trek fan. He admitted it himself in his interview with Jon Stewart that he could never get into Star Trek because he couldn’t understand it, so he wanted to create a Star Trek for someone like himself.
Nick Meyer, who wrote (uncredited) Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan and directed and also directed Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country wasn’t a fan of Star Trek either. However, he did his homework, watched the TV series, learned about the characters and the Star Trek universe and then created probably the two best movies featuring The Original Series cast.
Abrams was unwilling do familiarise himself with the Star Trek universe. So we end up with movies that are re-conceived by someone who never understood what Star Trek was about. Is it any wonder then that for the majority of fans, the reboot movie just suck?
Tagged with: Jj Abrams • star trek movie • Star Trek: The Beginning • star-trek
Filed under: Star Trek Movies
22 thoughts on “How Did JJ Abrams Get His Hands On Star Trek Anyway?”
Very interesting, so when does this non-compete clause finish? I heard the Star Trek Renegades crew pitched their recent movie as a pilot for a series and CBS told them they couldn’t do it (and couldn’t go into the reasons why). I guess this is it!
JJ’s screwed up Star Wars as well apparently. He’s been removed from the project by Disney. His original cut was so bad it made the Phantom Menace look like a masterpiece. But Disney have re-edited the movie so it’s becoming a watchable film.
There’s a prediction that the new Star Wars movie will be full of discrepancies and contradictions – which is probably why Disney and Abrams decided to nullify everything but the movies and animated series as canon. SW fans who are into the books, games, etc. outside of those are very unhappy. Abrams just gutted SW like he did ST.
And Abrams has been replaced for SW 8 & 9 and is not directing ANY of the anthology films.
And the reason no new CBS led Star Trek series has been announced is because Abrams is threatening to sue on “devaluation of his brand” grounds. Bad Robot (his production company) could be in real trouble after the ST and SW screwups.
I don’t know if CBS’ refusal to ok a Renegades series has anything to do with this, but I Renegades will be creating further episodes.
Wow, what a load of bull. No wonder your site is a joke and your comments are all moderated, otherwise it would be instantly evident how your articles are all slander and speculation projected from a few tiny real events like the movie that fell through before 2009 etc.
Shame on you for making a fake Trek news site only to be dirty fake journalism.
I’ve relayed information I’ve come across from people who were in the loop. I wasn’t there so I can’t say if what I reported is the absolute truth – and I say that at the top of the article. If you know events happened differently, then let us all know the real story.
The Star Trek: The Beginning movie was a real project – it’s documented in a lot of detail over on Memory Alpha (see the link to it in my post) – unless you think they make stuff up too.
I get the impression you’re a fan of JJ Abrams reboot and don’t like it when people criticize it. I openly despise his reboot movies. They’re not Trek in my opinion. But I’m not the only one with that opinion.
There’s a very good reason for moderating comments. It stops spam. I approved your comments because, even though I disagree with them, they are relevant to Star Trek.
The article is written by what is known as the anti Star Trek Talifan
1. Orci is a major writer for Paramount, and was hired first. just as Orci was hired to reboot the Transformers. Orci works closely with Paramount and CBS are both companies are still owned by National Amusements
2. The idiot article writer has no identity because he is a liar
3. The entire article supposes that National Amusement isn’t a huge multibillion dollar conglomerate. Star Trek is a top movie franchise especially thanks to the last 2 movies. Talifans struggle to create articles stating it is losing money and these lies pop up in very realistic looking fake articles.
4. Paramount is in complete charge of Star Trek and will do whatever it pleases with the franchise contrary to the belief of delusional talifans
5. The Talifans of course believe Star Trek belongs to their chaotic and confused mass of dissident fans which is the opposite of the truth and they are actually a detriment to the much much larger fanbase, studios and businesses that support or partner with paramount.
6. CBS has no non compete contract with Paramount, they in fact have a very collaborative and powerful working relationship.
7. Paramount’s Skydance organization handles Star Trek which makes stories about what paramount is doing even more ludicrous.
Get a life Talifan articles like this only further confusing and ridiculous conspiracy theories that go no where. and are designed only to stir anger against the franchise through false stories
Have seen a few pages of a draft of the script. Perhaps an early draft, but there is a surprising nod to the early days of the original Trek in the story set up.
This was CBS at the June Las Vegas License Expo. You will note there are no NuTrek items at all offered for sell/license by CBS. A person asking out of sheer curiosity was told if he wanted to license Nutrek items they could assist him in working with Bad Robot and they could create a deal, they did not directly license NuTrek, this was done by BR. Look for yourself and make your own opinions.
I don’t know why fan boys don’t like JJS trek movies cus honestly they are awesome movies. Fan boys always find something to bitch about.
Well, I learned something new today. I’d never heard of the term “talifan” before, so I had to look it up. And I don’t think it applies to me. I have provided reasons why I disliked Into Darkness which are not solely because the movie breaks Star Trek canon but because it’s a very badly written movie.
Taking your points in turn, Wayne:
1. Can you cite a reference showing that Orci was hired first? I you can, then I’ll amend the article. I don’t rate Orci as a good scriptwriter. That opinion has not changed over several years. Orci was fired as writer and director on Star Trek Beyond, btw:
CBS and Paramount may be owned by National Amusements but so what? It has little to no bearing on how the two companies are run.
2. That sentence doesn’t even make sense.
3. All companies are designed to make money. But not every product they make will generate a profit. Star Trek is certainly Paramount’s biggest property but not “especially thanks to the last 2 movies”. Star Trek was the Hot Property long before the two new movies. Its “untouchable and unduplicatable” success, especially in the 1980s and 1990s was the envy of other studios.
You seem to have misunderstood my article. I never said Star Trek was losing money, I said the two new movies were not particularly profitable.
And my article is not fake. It’s based on research I conducted rather than simple, un-researched opinion.
Take a look at these articles which give a breakdown of the profitability of Star Trek movies:
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?id=startrek.htm (shows just takings, not accounting for budget and marketing costs).
The two new movies did better overseas than in the USA. Some studios (I don’t know if Paramount is one of them) measure a movie’s success by its domestic rather than worldwide takings. On that basis, the new movies didn’t do well at all, though they’re not the least profitable. Into Darkness’ poor domestic performance impacted the budget for Star Trek Beyond:
4. You’re incorrect. Paramount are in charge of the Star Trek movies only. They can do whatever they want, of course, but if fans don’t like them (and a lot don’t) and the movies don’t appeal to a wider audience (and ticket sales would suggest that the movies didn’t reach as big an audience as was hoped), then the movies won’t make money. It makes more financial sense to appeal to an existing fan base while also broadening the appeal of the movies to a more general audience. I would contend that Paramount did not achieve that goal. Many fans like the new movies; many didn’t. If Paramount don’t please the fans, they will lose money.
CBS own the licensing for ALL Star Trek merchandise that relate to The Original Series, The Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, Enterprise AND the movies (apart from the two new ones). Paramount signed over their licensing rights for Star Trek to CBS in a deal to give them more time to release the first new movie. CBS don’t own the licensing rights for the new movies – they belong to Bad Robot (JJ Abrams company).
5. I suppose there’s an element of “ownership” in the minds of fans. Many grew up watching the various series. It’s dear to their hearts. It’s no different to someone feeling “ownership” of a favorite sports team.
Anyone who’s very familiar with a particular topic will recognize when something is not right. The more passionate fans will spot inconsistencies in Star Trek. Many writers have too and have tried to work around them. This only makes the franchise stronger.
The framework in which Star Trek sits, so that it is largely self-consistent was created by Gene Roddenberry and then extended by Paramount when the Star Trek books and comics began to appear in the late 70s and early 80s. Star Trek’s self-consistency is one of its strengths. Calling people who are knowledgeable about Star Trek a “chaotic and confused mass of dissident fans” is frankly, insulting (and I’m not referring to myself here).
CBS and Paramount make money from Star Trek fans. While those two companies own (in a legal sense) Star Trek, they wouldn’t make money on the franchise without those fans. And, without those fans, there would have been no Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise or movies. And a lot less merchandise. CBS make $20 million per year on merchandise alone.
CBS and Paramount may own Star Trek, but without the fans there’d be little money in the franchise.
6. The non-compete clause may have expired by now as it related to the time during which the 2009 movie was being developed. There was an agreement in effect at the time that prevented CBS developing a TV series during the time the then new movie was in production.
CBS and Paramount may have a good working relationship but that doesn’t mean they’d want to be developing competing properties at the same time (e.g. a Star Trek movie at Paramount and a Star Trek TV series at CBS). From a business standpoint, it makes sense that two companies wouldn’t want to have competing versions of the same franchise simultaneously.
7. Skydance Productions was formed in 2010 so wasn’t involved in the production of Star Trek (2009). Unless Paramount have sold the rights to the Star Trek movie franchise to Skydance, Paramount are still in charge and still the company making the decisions about Star Trek movies. Skydance co-produce and co-finance movies with Paramount Pictures. That doesn’t give them sole control over those properties.
I’m curious as to why you keep harping on about “talifans”. You seem to have a particular axe to grind but you don’t back up any of your assertions with citations. Indeed, your own comment seems very “talifan” in nature. 🙂
You come across as someone who is a “talifan” of the new movies and who doesn’t like to hear bad things said about them. 😯
There are no conspiracy theories here. I’ve said at the top of the article that this is “allegedly” what happened as I learned from my sources. No one has contradicted what is said in the article though I will make any corrections where necessary. Simply saying I’m wrong without some kind of corroboration is not good enough. If you can provide corroboration for what you say, well and good. But, so far, you haven’t.
That’s good to hear.
Well, I give plenty of reasons why I don’t like the new Trek movies here 🙂 : https://www.thefederationtimes.com/why-i-hate-star-trek-into-darkness
Imagine your favorite baseball or football team got a new coach and he decided his way of running the team was better than everyone else’s and he ignored the plays that worked and the strengths and weaknesses of the players. And now imagine your team which was great, now sucks. Wouldn’t you be shouting angrily from the stand?
I personally treat the Abramsverse Star Trek as an Alternate Timelines, sort of like a what if? If CBS does create a new series I hope they stick to the Prime Universe set either further into the future or right after the events of Nemesis. If CBS was to continue with the Abramsverse I think I be okay as long as the stories are more Star Trek-like. As far as Star Trek Renegades it was good for an independent movie and the story was interesting. I know they couldn’t afford the same production cost as CBS could, so it was good for being low budget. I would love to see CBS do a Renegades series, and I’m okay if a new series wasn’t based on a new Starship Enterprise. For me it is about the Star Trek ‘Prime’ Universe and staying true to what fans know of it. As far as Star Wars, I am a fan too and I hope JJ Abrams didn’t totally screw it up. Disney has been making such a big deal about taking over the SW Franchise that if the film sucks Disney might loose a lot of credibility about taking over the franchise. However, I do admit they have done a good job with the SW animated versions. I guess fans of both ST and SW will just have to wait and pray both franchises don’t crash and burn.
FYI: Para Mobius was a person who broke the story that Orci was fired and taunted Bad Robot and Paramount to release the story. Your Para Mobius commenter above is a fraud; all of the comments here refuting your story are being made by people known to work for Bad Robot. If they have facts that dispute your story, let them factually post them, if they do not, attacking people is not an acceptable substitute.
This is the story that both JJ Abrams and CBS released on different occasions stating that CBS refused Abrams to ever allow Star Trek on TV or for CBS to stop selling original timeline products. It is the general understanding that Abrams felt whatever license and non-compete he was a part of did not allow CBS to sell TOS products and he said it was a billion dollar opportunity to vault and remake all of Star Trek as Nutrek. Yahoo tried to ask both Paramount and Bad Robot for comment but was told by both NO COMMENT when asked for input. By publishing this story all you have done is open the doors to yourself to be attacked and flamed by Bad Robot people who patrol the net.
As a long time Trek fan and follower of the franchise, I can attest that what Gaty offers is very much in line with what other outlets have reported over the years regarding the Trek/CBS/Paramount relationship. Anyone who tries to *deny* this curious business split of Trek is, simply, wrong.
Paramount licenses the Trek “elements” from CBS; the “intellectual property” such as the characters, the name, the Enterprise etc, for the purpose of making movies only. Right now, Paramount couldn’t make a Trek TV show without CBS approval.
JJ bolted Trek and Paramount when CBS balked at the idea of mothballing ALL TOS merchandise in favor of nuTrek “stuff.” He wanted to make Trek into a multiplatform media brand, but only if all CBS merchandising stopped. They refused, and JJ bolted for Disney and SW.
Orci was an unqualified disaster for Trek and “Darkness” with his hysterical conspiracy theories and political preoccupations making the core of many of his stories. When his Trek 3 script came across as yet another rehash of old stories, Paramount had enough and (allegedly) “fired” him by giving him the chance to walk away, which he did.
Trek 3 is an unknown. Pegg, as a Trek writer, is a wildcard, as is Lin as a director. How it will all pan out is anyone’s guess.
Angel, did you even read the article. It clearly states why TRUE TREK FANS, I happen to be one, hate the JJ movies. Abrams should have either did research to try to understand what Real Trek is and/or brought in Star Trek fans to advise him. Considering that he did not do this, and basically dumbed down Star Trek for a modern intellectually inferior audience, added explosions when they were not needed, threw out the true history of Trek for example Kirk was born on Earth and not on a spaceship, speaking of which, families were not allowed to be on Starfleet Ships until the time of TNG. I think that you can honestly see why Hard Core (or as I call them True Trek) fans hated the so-called reboots which were only Star Trek in name and not reality.
If you think you are a true trek fan see what happens when you talk to Mr Shatner you will quickly find out that you are the wrong, his comment for you is “suck it up” Leonard had words for the haters also
The calculations in the STID low profit article were refuted because STID profit:$190 million and made 467.4 million worldwide,its profit margin is 246% not 146%
The article purposely ignored the worldwide profit for STID only
Just using the math from the article itself puts STID 5th after TMP.
Furthermore percentages don’t mean anything.
As for Trek 09 here is a real article on profit
I see that you are deleting any comments that refute your ra ra lie circle anyway so goodbye, hardly anyone but talifans even look at these articles from this site anyway so enjoy your delusions and the butthurt as new trek continues triumphantly here’s your failstamp
Bad Robot enjoys posting Gross and Calling it profit. These links below add perspective:
They will claim Hollywood accounting, but no one can claim 28% loss of Paramount’s net worth and it not be real. No one also fires 110 people because of financial issues who just made extreme profits.
In the summer of 2013 Paramount lost over 28% of their net worth and fired 110 people. They blamed these losses on low returns from STID and WWZ in their yearly corp report and underwent financial restructuring. The facts do not sync up with Bad Robot’s claim of profitability of this film. They also do not factor in the ad budget or expenses the above article does from cheetsheet – and they certainly cannot call The Christian Science Monitor an unreliable source.
Star Trek 3 is being made with 130 million. If the article below is not true why would the budget be so deeply cut if STID was so successful?
Point me to a source where Shatner says “suck it up”, Wayne. Shatner said the new movies lacked the “soul” of The Original Series in this interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpatzxeFDQU
He’s being diplomatic about the new movies but you can read between the lines.
I doubt Nimoy has “words” for people who dislike the new movies. He does appear to have enjoyed hos time making them: http://www.startrek.com/article/exclusive-interview-leonard-nimoy-talks-star-trek-into-darkness
I have to confess though that I’ve never understood why Nimoy was happy with the direction the new movies took. If anyone knows of an interview where he talks about this, please let me know.
You’re neglecting to account for advertising and marketing costs on the movies. If you check around, you’ll find that the marketing budgets for Hollywood movies are roughly the same as the production costs. So a movie that costs $190 million to produce will cost an additional $190 million to market. So $467,400,000 – $190,000,000 – $190,000,000 = $87,400,000. Simple arithmetic will show that on the initial $190 million production cost, that’s a 46% profit. Factoring in the marketing costs, it’s only a 23% profit. That’s a lousy profit margin where Hollywood is concerned.
The article (read it again) referred to STID specifically (it didn’t ignore it). It gave worldwide takings ($467.4 million), and mentioned the production budget ($190 million) and the marketing budget (another $190 million).
Check this article which I also included in my previous reply to you: http://1701news.com/node/527/what-most-profitable-trek-movie-all-time.html
It gives the inflation adjusted figures for all the Star Trek movies. Note, however, that marketing costs are not factored in here so the reported profit revenue and margins are higher than they actually would be.
That page shows STID as only more profitable in the USA than Star Trek: Insurrection, putting it 11th out of the 12 movies. Worldwide, STID did a little better, coming 10th out of 12.
Actually percentages do matter and they mean a lot. Perhaps you don’t understand them?
As to the article you refer to, all it shows is that a few more people saw STID than TMP. That doesn’t make STID the more profitable. To calculate that, you need to know the production budgets for both movies, the marketing costs for both, the cinema ticket prices for both and the number of bums on seats for both movies. Then you need to adjust all the TMP figures for inflation. And then you can compare like with like.
http://1701news.com/node/527/what-most-profitable-trek-movie-all-time.html does that for you (but doesn’t include each movie’s marketing costs). From that page you’ll see that TMP was 6-7 times more profitable than STID.
I’m not the one saying the new movies (STID in particular) weren’t particularly profitable. It’s the above sites and the other sites in my previous reply to you. And here’s another one:
I haven’t deleted any comments but your aggressive attitude suggests you don’t like hearing the truth and you probably won’t believe me anyway. I’m afraid you’re the one who’s delusional. The one good thing about the movies is that they are introducing new people to the Star Trek franchise.
Folks also need to thing about distrbution costs as well.
Star Trek into darkness only grossed $5 million more in overseas markets.
And domestic Theatres keep 35% of the total Gross, whereas International Threatres keep 55% of the Total gross. China is included in that but these days China is Paramounts biggest market, but the studio only keeps 25% of the total gross in China.
CBS also have plans apparently to Produce a new Series, but Cannot as Viacom (Who own Paramount) have asked them not to announce until the mess behind the scenes is sorted out with Bad Robot. (oh Wayne, we know you work for bad robot, you have admitted it on facebook).
CBS will probably announce the week after Beyond Hope of being successful, is released. Accordingly they will make it Prime, simply on the basis that if CBS were going to do a JJTrek based series, they would have said yes by now, and they are not going to make a product, where they are not in 100% control.
It should also be said that unlike the last 2 movies, marketing for Beyond hope of being successful, has had no marketing. The last 2 were very much marketed before the film was even made. Teasers were being made whilst filming was happening. This one has no marketing and has just had leaks, and even those leaks, even the Pro JJ fans have been saying what the hell.
It should also be mentioned The Big Bang Theory is CBS’ highest rated program, and in that there was a snub to JJ Trek, with Sheldon’s reaction when he got the wrong Spock life size poster.
but hey, who am I? I am Just a fan. Don’t take my word for it. You can dig around for yourself to find information.
“I have provided reasons why I disliked Into Darkness which are not solely because the movie breaks Star Trek canon but because it’s a very badly written movie.”
Sad, and all too true. There are two kinds of people in the verse. People who understand how unutterably bad STiD is, and people who were dropped on their heads as children.