If you're a collector of Star Trek memorabilia, you may have noticed that there's not a lot of merchandise available that relates to the new movies.
Ever wondered why (if you even noticed)?
It comes down to there being some bad blood between Paramount Studios, which owns the rights to the movies and CBS (US Network TV station) which own the rights to the TV shows. And, it turns out, the rights to merchandising for the TV series too.
Back in 2006, CBS split off from Paramount's corporate parent, Viacom. Among the rights it held onto was the ability to create future "Star Trek" TV shows.
Of course, in 2006, Enterprise - the last Star Trek series - had been cancelled and no new TV series had been commissioned. And no new Star Trek movies were in the pipeline at the time.
However, both Paramount and CBS were two large media conglomerates who had competing goals where Star Trek was concerned.
A couple of years after the split, Paramount signed up JJ Abrams to be the director of a new movie franchise. That much we all know.
But Bad Robot (Abram's production company) had bigger plans for Trek. Bad Robot had plans to completely relaunch Trek with a TV series, video games, comics and books, all tied into the new movies.
But here's the rub: Bad Robot wanted CBS to cease all merchandising of the original TV series. That was a big ask; CBS make $20 million per year alone from that. Negotiations between Paramount and CBS broke down over money.
Despite the initial bumpy ride on the Star Trek movie, it appears that Paramount, Bad Robot and CBS Consumer Products worked somewhat more harmoniously on Star Trek Into Darkness. They collaborated on a Star Trek video game that featured the voices of the film's stars Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto; a graphic novel prequel to the film that was overseen by screenwriter Roberto Orci; and a novelization from Simon & Schuster (below).
The video game was a turkey. It wouldn't even install properly on my PC. It got scathing reviews from gamers who could install it.
The graphic novel was criticized too - why should cinema-goers need to read a primer for Into Darkness to understand its back-story?
So, with Abrams great plans for a trans-media Trek assault kiboshed, it seems like he he got in a snit and buggered off to Star Wars. Disney's setup means he can do that all-out multi-media assault with that Universe and get a percentage of the merchandising takings.
Thing is, apparently he's reinventing Star Wars with his personal vision and has invalidated a lot of Star Wars canon in the process (just like he did with Trek). And Star Wars fans are not happy. Disney may be feeling the ire of fans because they're now downplaying how massive the new Star Wars movie will be.
But what seems apparent from all this is that JJ Abrams doesn't appear to learn from his mistakes. He seems doomed to repeat them.
Frankly, given my dislike of most (not all) of his work, and that he believes his vision is the one "True" vision, I'm glad he'll be in no way associated with any future Star Trek TV projects.
But, let's hope there will be a future TV project. On TV is where Star Trek really belongs.
Filed under: Other Star Trek Stuff