If you have HBO or Showtime and were hoping to see JJ Abrams Star Trek film on either, you are out of luck. Today Viacom (parent company of Paramount Pictures) announced a joint venture with MGM, UA and Lionsgate forming a new premium cable channel with exclusive rights for all four studios. The not-yet-named channel launches in the Fall of 2009 and the official press release names the new Trek movie as one of the ‘exclusives.’
Films from all four studios will have their exclusive pay per view (video on demand) and pay TV ‘windows’ with the new cable channel. So even though other channels may eventually get access to the films, they will always premiere first on Viacom/UA/MGM/Lionsgate Channel (surely the will come up with a catchier name). This new competitor to HBO and Showtime will also have access to the Paramount film library including the previous Trek features.
Mentions of Star Trek are all over the press release…
The new venture will have access to Paramount and Paramount Vantage titles released theatrically on or after January 1, 2008 and MGM, United Artists and Lionsgate titles released theatrically on or after January 1, 2009. The venture’s programming slate will have exclusive access during the pay television window to such recent and highly anticipated films as Iron Man, Star Trek, Pink Panther 2, Cloverfield, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Shutter Island, GI Joe, Love Guru, and Valkyrie, along with many others currently in production including planned new installments of Robocop and Outer Limits.
In addition, the new venture will have access to motion picture titles spanning the vast libraries of the five studios, which libraries include Braveheart, Forrest Gump and the Mission: Impossible, The Godfather and Star Trek franchises from Paramount; the James Bond, Pink Panther and Rocky franchises from MGM; and Dirty Dancing, Reservoir Dogs, Crash, Monster’s Ball, the Saw franchise, the Tyler Perry catalogue and The Blair Witch Project from Lionsgate. The new venture will also feature new original television series created by the five studios.
Paramount President Brad Grey is also quoted on the venture, again mentioning Trek
For close to a century, Paramount has produced and distributed some of America’s best-known and beloved films – a tradition that continues today, with an outstanding lineup set through 2009. That commitment to great entertainment is matched by Paramount’s focus on creating new and innovative platforms that offer more access and flexibility to consumers. We look forward to launching this historic premium entertainment service with a strong slate that includes new releases like Cloverfield, Iron Man, and Star Trek alongside Paramount’s legendary library.
Showtime out of luck
News of this venture cannot be welcome at CBS (home of the Showtime network). Showtime currently has deals with Paramount and the other studios in the venture…all of which will lapse by the time the new channel launches. This new venture signals that there may be growing tensions between former corporate siblings, Paramount and CBS (which were both part of Viacom before the company split apart in 2006). According to The Hollywood Reporter, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves was just briefed on the venture today. The LA Times asked Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman about the competition with CBS, to which Dauman replied “Our job here, as is Leslie’s job at CBS, is to drive the strategies of our own companies.”…ouch. Deadline Hollywood has more on how the new venture ‘royally screws’ CBS and Moonves.
Of course by the time the channel launches, it is likely that the new Star Trek film will have been released on DVD (and Blu Ray), but a pay channel with exclusive rights to the Trek library may be a must-have addition to any Trekkie’s cable TV package.