Franchise EP Alex Kurtzman tells TheWrap he “can’t imagine” that CBS and Paramount would build separate “Star Treks”
Now that “Star Trek” has beamed Jean-Luc Picard back up into its universe, the sci-fi franchise’s captain is already plotting its next course. And that may include mind-melding the film and TV universes after more than a decade apart.
When Viacom and CBS agreed to re-merge, after spending the past 14 years as separate companies, the film and TV rights to “Star Trek” once again came under the same corporate roof. CBS TV Studios controls the TV side, while Paramount has steered the Enterprise on the film part of the universe.
Alex Kurtzman, who oversees “Star Trek” for CBS TV Studios, believes it’s only a matter of time before the film and TV worlds of “Star Trek” collide.
“The ink has just dried on the merger and the doors are just opening. So I think anything is possible at this point,” he told TheWrap. “I can’t imagine that CBS and Paramount, in their infinite wisdom, would say lets create two ‘Star Trek’s and have them be separate. That doesn’t seem like it would be a good strategy to me.”
Kurtzman was a co-writer on the two J.J. Abrams-directed films in 2009 and 2013 that rebooted the franchise, casting new actors to play characters from the original TV series in the late 1960s. Outside of Leonard Nimoy reprising his role as an elder Spock, the film featured no continuity with any previous “Star Trek” property, even going so far as to create an alternate timeline for the newer films to explore.
“There just was a firewall for the last four years, so it wasn’t even a conversation,” Kurtzman said.
The film future of “Star Trek” has been up in the air since the middling box office for Justin Lin’s 2013 “Star Trek Beyond.” There were plans for a fourth film that would’ve seen Chris Pine return as Captain Kirk and star alongside Chris Hemsworth, reprising his role as Kirk’s father from 2009’s “Star Trek,” despite the fact that the character died in the opening minutes of the film. But that movie fell apart over salary negotiations. Then, Quentin Tarantino teased that he was working on a script for his own “Star Trek” film, but nothing was ever put in development.
In November, “Fargo” creator Noah Hawley was tapped to write and direct a new “Star Trek” film, which he later said would not include the same cast from the most recent films. Kurtzman told reporters during the Television Critics Association press tour that he and Hawley have held very preliminary talks about what Hawley is planning.
“As far as the movies go, I think the fundamental question on the films is: What do you do on a movie that you can’t do on our TV shows,” Kurtzman continued. “Right now, the line between movies and television is gone.”
But while the film side figures out where it wants to boldly go, the “Star Trek” TV universe is continuing to expand. Following “Picard” on CBS All Access will be the third season of “Star Trek: Discovery” later this year. There are also two animated series in the works: “Lower Decks” from “Rick & Morty” writer Mike McMahan will debut this year, while “LEGO Ninjago” writers Kevin and Dan Hageman are developing another untitled show for Nickelodeon.
Additionally, CBS All Access is developing a “Discovery” spinoff centered on Michelle Yeoh’s Philippa Georgiou character. “Our feeling is that you can have a lot of ‘Star Trek’ shows. You can have a lot of ‘Star Trek’ movies. They have to be different and unique propositions, while still maintaining an overall brand identity,” Kurtzman said. “If you look at ‘Discovery,’ it’s very different from ‘Picard’ in terms of tone and feel. And yet they’re both very identifiable as ‘Star Trek’ shows. If you look at ‘Lower Decks’ you’ll see that while it’s as broad a comedy as ‘Star Trek’ has ever done, it’s very much a ‘Star Trek’ show.”