Even before Star Trek hit theaters, Viacom’s Paramount inked deals with the filmmakers to prepare a sequel. Today in a conference call with investors, Viacom chairman Philippe Dauman talked up the performance of Star Trek and noted that the Trek franchise (and others) will be a key part of Paramount’s future. Details on that below, plus the latest box office numbers.
Paramount focusing on Trek & other franchises
Paramount posted a $123M loss for the first quarter of 2009, but in a conference call with investors, Viacom Chairman Philippe Dauman said that he has a plan for a turnaround and Star Trek is part of that plan.
Here is an excerpt from Variety:
We were in a situation where we weren’t fully in control of our release slate. We now have full control of our slate. We won’t be in a position where our big, franchise pictures are offset" by a handful of smaller, less successful films, Dauman told Wall Streeters at a media conference in Gotham. He was referring to Viacom’s split last fall with DreamWorks co-founders
Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.
"That’s why ‘Star Trek’ is so important. We greenlit ‘Star Trek 2’ several weeks before the release of ‘1’ because we knew what we had"
Variety’s Video Business has more:
As part of its strategy, Paramount will cut its number of theatrical releases per year to between 15 and 20, with a higher percentage of its titles derived from franchises such as Star Trek, Iron Man and Transformers, Dauman said, adding that such titles pose less risk for the company because they cost less to make and translate to better DVD sales.
So it looks like the Star Trek sequel is already part of the overall strategy of Paramount’s future. The current status of the sequel is that the writing team of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are working with Damon Lindelof on the story, and the script is due around Christmas. Assuming that all goes well, they could give the film the final greenlight and budget and go into pre-production possibly in early 2010 for a potential Summer 2011 release. However, it should be noted that things can always change in Hollywood while films are in this early phase, so we can’t assume anything just yet.
Who will direct? Will Paramount wait for JJ?
Just like it was for the first movie at the beginning of 2007, one big question mark for the Star Trek sequel is around who would direct. JJ Abrams has expressed a desire to do something different for his next directing project. Here is what Abrams told TrekMovie [in late April]:
I think that the dream version of any job is to chose the job because you love the job. And for me I have only directed two films and they are both films that are sequels to TV shows that Leonard Nimoy starred in. I would love to try and do something else. That is not to say that can’t do something else first and maybe come back and do the sequel to this. But I do honestly think that it is insane to think about a sequel when the first one hasn’t come out it. I pray people see the movie and I pray they like the film. And if there’s a desire for another one, not only am I thrilled to produce that movie and help realize it, but I am wide open to the possibility of directing it. It is something I need to decide when we have discussions about the story…
If Paramount wants to get the Star Trek sequel out by the Summer of 2011, there doesn’t seem to be enough time for JJ to get to do any other big project. So they will either have to change his mind, find a new director, or wait until JJ is ready.
Back to the future & what will CBS do?
Of course all this talk about the Star Trek being a big part of Paramount’s future, is reminiscent of the good old days of the Trek franchise. Back in the 80s and 90s, Paramount was pumping out Star Trek movies at a rate of about one every 2 years and it was a big part of the studio’s bottom line. Combined with up to two shows in production, there were times when close to a dozen stages on the Paramount lot were dedicated to Star Trek. In the last decade with the waning of Trek and the absorption of Dreamworks, Trek became less important to the studio. But now Paramount took a gamble and it has paid off just in time, with Star Trek reinvigorated and again a key asset in their portfolio.
With the Star Trek brand rejuvenated, one has to wonder what is going on in the mind of CBS and Les Moonves. After the Viacom/CBS split, CBS ended up as the license holder of the Star Trek brand and CBS owns the sole rights to Star Trek on television. Re-releasing seasons of Trek on Blu-ray and DVD will only make so much money. If CBS wants to really cash in on their asset, they need to make a new TV show. Star Trek The Next Generation was launched in the late 80s after the Star Trek feature films became box office hits. If I were on the board of CBS I would certainly be asking the question ‘hey, don’t we own Star Trek?’
Tuesday Box Office Update
Speaking of Star Trek business, the movie came in a close 4th place yesterday, bringing in $2M domestically bringing its total domestic gross up to $193M (less than $1M from taking the top spot as highest grossing film of 2009). Star Trek’s international take is now up to $91M, bringing its global total gross to $284M. [BOM]