Was Trek the clincher?
It has been reported that Paramount’s Brad Grey has been actively pursuing Lost co-creator and MI3 Writer/Director JJ Abrams to sign on with Paramount after his deal with Disney ended this summer. Although Abrams had many suitors (Sony, Disney, Warner, etc) Grey had something the other studios didnt…Star Trek. Grey went so far as sheving another scifi project (Jon Favreau’s John Carter of Mars ) in the pipeline for 2008 to make room for a new Trek feature. Getting hold of this venerable (but now dormant) scifi franchise was a fanboy dream and something it appears that Abrams and his band of brothergeeks couldn’t resist. On Saturday the LA Times is reported (reg required) that Paramount had finally got their man for Trek XI and beyond.
Abrams Lands TV, Film Deals
After months of on-again, off-again negotiations that pitted the major Hollywood studios against one another, producer J.J. Abrams has cinched separate multiyear movie and television deals at Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Television that together are worth more than $55 million.
At midnight Thursday, at Paramount’s Melrose Avenue lot, Abrams’ representatives finalized the terms of a five-year movie deal with the Viacom Inc.-owned studio.
Paramount guaranteed Abrams $2 million a year for five years and another $2 million a year for Bad Robot overhead. He also will receive an annual $500,000 discretionary fund.
For the first movie he directs, which the studio hopes will be a “Star Trek” film, Abrams will get $5 million plus some back-end profit if the movie is a hit.
Was Trek the sole reason Abrams went with Paramount?? Probably not, but the fact that Grey took Trek off the backburner and handed it to Abrams was quite the show of faith in the young director. This deal makes clear that Grey and Paramount are happy with Abrams direction of MI3 and don’t fault him (or his team of producers and writers) for its below expectations results. That being said it appears they arent too happy with Cruise, Variety recently reported that Paramount is considering not renewing the production deal for Cruise/Wagner which expires this summer (or at the very least reducing the cost of the deal). Here is the money quote from Grey:
“We think J.J. is the next Steven Spielberg,” said Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey, who had been pursuing Abrams to make Paramount his movie home base since late last year when Abrams was prepping “M:I:3.” “He’s a triple threat: a great writer, producer and now, a first-class movie director.”
As for ST XI…the one thing that I thought could derail ST XI was if another studio signed Abrams…but that isn’t a worry anymore. It appears that Trek XI is gonna happen. In the past Abrams and team have said the original Variety article from April 20th announcing STXI was an unofficial leak. I speculated it was an overzelous Paramount PR person trying to show the rest of the contenders that they already nailed down Abrams. Hopefully this means we will get some more official words about Trek XI from Abrams and/or Paramount in the near future.
It is also worth noting that Abrams will have final cut. Not only that, but Paramount took the unusual step of announcing that longtime Trek Producer Rick Berman was not associated with Trek XI way back in April. Compared to previous Trek film projects that were wall to wall egos and executives, it appears that Abrams will have an unprecedented amount of creative control. So for good or for ill, JJ Abrams and his band of brothers are in the drivers seat of the Trek franchise