Viacom Chairman: Star Trek ‘So Important’ For Paramount’s Future + Box Office Update

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]

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josepepper

I hope he doesn’t direct the engine room scenes

That One Guy

I really hope that JJ chooses to direct the next one. As much as I don’t entirely like his style (i.e. Shaky Camera and lens flares) I really liked the movie itself.

Yes I’d call this a show of confidence on the part of the Big V!

-cs™

josepepper

I say get a new top notch director with a slightly different vision and more of a sci-fi background. He didn’t write the story and there were problems with the “look” in parts of the film.

He’s a good director, not a great director

Oh yea, ease up on the lens flares

The Bear

I just hope that the powers that be dont rush it and produce a sub-standard picture just for the sake of getting it out to the masses in order to draw in some money.

btw: Leave out the fraking lens flares for the sequel. I honestly found them distracting in the movie the first time I watched it.

Gustavo Valente

Man, this Trek vibe is something I never thought I would feel…..it’s just great!!!

Waiting badly for the sequel……..(and the DVD of JJ’s Trek also)

unkobill

I don’t care who directs the sequel…..just as long as it doesn’t disappoint. If it’s even half of what JJ’s Star Trek is, I’ll be happy.

That One Guy

As long as they don’t rush it and do a quality job, I’ll be happy. Otherwise it’ll end up like Pirates 3. As much as I liked all of those movies, trying to make a movie in 2 years is a tight squeeze. I would much prefer the 3 years that we had this time, so that they could spend just as much time spiffing it up for the masses.

Mr. AtoZ

Wow, looking good.

Kirk=God

NEW DIRECTOR IDEA: JOSS WHEDON… THERES A BUFFY REBOOT IN THE MIX THAT THE STUDIO IS GIVING JOSS THE SHAFT ON, MEANING THEYRE NOT LETTING HIM BE INVOLVED..SO HE’D BE PERFECT FOR IT:)

The Gorn Identity

Josepepper, you need to calm down about the engine room already. Everything is going to be okay.

Mike Ten

What’s wrong with making movies based on shows Leonard Nimoy has been in? Mr. Abrams could do a “In Search Of” movie next and have it look for the Cloverfield monster or the Lost island.

Then he could start on shows William Shatner has been in and do a good TJ Hooker movie.

I can”t wait till he gets to Walter Koening shows and does a big screen Babylon Five movie.

DavidJ

I’d definitely like a tighter, stronger storyline in the next one, but I have no problem with Abrams returning to direct.

You may not like all the individual choices he made, but there’s no denying that he infused the movie with a great sense of LIFE and ENERGY that’s been missing in Trek for far too long.

The last thing I want is to go back to the placid and safe directing style of the previous Trek movies.

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire

Look like things are Trekking along. Lol. This is the best news i hve heard for Trek yet and thets been a lot latly. Who would have guessed 2 years ago or longer that Trek would be back like this. Just incredable. lens flares are fine. But please give us a real Engine room that Scotty would love. Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brian from OR

I hope Paramount gives JJ all the time he wants before he decides if he wants to direct the next movie. Paramount should copy the relation Warner Brothers has with Chris Nolan.

josepepper

I took 3 blue pills, a red pill and a bud light and I’m still mad about the engine room. I don’t care how much money the movie makes, they better fix it in the sequel!

Mike

Paramount owns the movies, CBS own’s the tv shows? Confusing. who owns the books? Action figures? Etc, etc….

josepepper

JJ also said they are gonna try to squeeze Shatners fat ass in the sequel. THAT would really be a mistake, he’s playing nice now and has nothing but glowing things to say about the movie. The fat bastard hasn’t even seen it yet? Can you believe that! Iv seen it 5 times so far. And oh yea, a month after the new Enterprise pics came out he hadn’t had the chance to look at them. Iv lost a lot of respect for the fat shat. He’s had his day

+ Pine’s eyes are deep blue and the shats are brown :-)

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire

I say Give J.J a Blank Check and say fill it in and Direct Trek 2. We have fantastic writers in Orci and comp. Now lets get J.J. But i might not mind if Spielberg directs. That may get me in trouble on here and i may have to check my self into the Agoniser booth for a while but thats my Opion.

@19: ” We have fantastic writers in Orci and comp.”

Exactly how was the work they did ‘fantastic’? I myself thought the writing was pretty poor compared to earlier trek stories.

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire

#20 Exactly how was the work they did ‘fantastic’? I myself thought the writing was pretty poor compared to earlier trek stories.

For that you get 1 hour in the Agoniser Booth. I loved the story and thought they did fantastic. Im a hard core fan since 1975. thats the best Trek Writing since Treks 2 4 and 6.

J_schinderlin56

We had TOS-R while we waited for this movie, CBS- make TNG-R while we wait for the next one.

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire

Anthony. Im confused. But what else is new. But thank you for shareing that with us.

Mr. "There are always possibilities"

Fascinating…

It is logical that any plan to improve Paramount would include Star Trek.

However, it is possible to kill a goose that lays golden eggs. It would be wise for Paramount to treat the franchise with kid gloves. It is obvious that a lot of time and effort as well as though and money went into this film. I hope whoever is in charge of the Star Trek property will move forward cautiously.

Live Long and Prosper, and Boldy Go.

I’d also be asking Les “Didn’t you cancel Enterprise? Explain to me again why that was a good idea?”

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire

Anthony im confused in how Cbs can own the series and Paramount can own the movies. But I guess thats just the buesness end of things. Im not confused in what you said. Just how 2 different companys can own parts of the same franchise.

trekboi

let JJ direct again- if he builds a futuristic- yet equally realistic engine room- pity they tore the old one down 5 years ago- they could have built onto that- kept the core/heart of the enterprise and just built out with an expanded set to get the big factory feel JJ wanted.

opcode

Anthony,
Just curious, does Paramount need to pay CBS to make ST movies?

Robert H.

Give Star Trek one more weekend, and it will for a time be the #1 grossing domestic movie this year.

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire

Ok. Thank you Anthony that realy cleared things up me and im sure the rest of us. You are indeed a Smart man.

RD

21. Anthony Pascale wrote:

Paramount owns the film library and has the exclusive right to make star trek movies.

Are you absolutely certain about that? Or is it a “right of first refusal” sort of thing?

I have never read anything definitive about it and it’s hard to imagine CBS owning the underlying copyrights and trademarks and having a deal without some kind of a time limitation on it. I’m also suspicious of Les Monves’ move into feature films. If CBS is successful with their first Harrison Ford starer next year, then those $50M mid-budget features he’s planning will fall right in line with what Paramount had been doing with previous Trek (which were profitable). Could CBS be planning TNG or other ST spinoff features? I’m sure there’s a no compete clause, but still.

Fletch Gannon

@13 I agree with what you say…a stronger storyline and I agree with your assessment about Abrams, he definitely gave the film a life and energy that was lacking from the last two series. I would have to disagree with most people saying that we need Shatner, Khan, time travel, whatever in the sequel. I want a new adventure with new aliens, and situations; boldly go where no one has gone before…not boldly go where we went last week.

Jordan

Trek TV please.

JJ needs to make a sequel for star trek and its canon and for all of the people see the 11th movie i have faith in jj for him to do it again the movie he made was epic an blow my mind and i am a trek fan too u kno

AJ

CBS has a chance to make some money after ST09 has come and gone. A good cartoon would not be uncommon to maintain interest while the new film is made.

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire

Ok. Bring Back Enterprise. But lets get some different people involved. Also. Change the opening Song.

Hans Thielman

Hopefully, CBS will greenlight a new series.

Lino Max

If JJ can’t, let’s hope they hire Alfonso Cuarón at the least

EFFeX

I would like to see JJ come back for the second one. I really like the feel of this film and I think JJ is really part of the film’s success.

Please though, tighten up on the science and more character development. Smarter dialog too. We NEED the Kirk, Spock, McCoy team in full effect in this one. The next movie needs to “breath”, let it come naturally, we don’t need to squeeze in as much as possible. I felt that in the first one that they tried to cover so much that they had to edit the scenes so closely together it ALMOST didn’t look right.

Looking forward to a sequel though, don’t know if I can make it until summer 2011 though!

OneBuckFilms

I think CBS may want to enter into a joint venture with Paramount and Bad Robot to see if Abrams could produce a new Trek series after another couple of movies.

If done right, the series could easily go back to the characters and basic premise of the Original Series, assuming the new cast would be game for a TV series after the next movie, and possibly one more (making it a Trilogy).

RD

#40. Thanks. Either way, it should not preclude CBS from producing direct to DVD projects, which would be like films without the cost of an ongoing series. Unless of course there’s a non-compete clause.

FYI, I had no doubt you knew what you were talking about, I just wanted to clarify it was a perpetual irrevocable arrangement, rather than a right CBS could revert at some term point in, as you say, a VERY complex agreement. They always are. I used to work for a company that owned Marvel and believe me, I KNOW how complicated that deal was and is, which prevented us from doing much with the catalogue.

miraclefan

I wonder if they would be willing to release new ENTERPRISE episodes for the direct to DVD market?

Fletch Gannon

No more TV series…another shipboard premise has been done to many times. A new Trek series would have to be substantially different then what has been produced before to get a more mainstream audience to watch. Don’t water down the premise…I look forward to the Enterprise crews big screen adventures.

Fletch Gannon

ENT is dead and gone…let it stay that way.

jas_montreal

I’d like to see someone else direct the star trek sequel ! Maybe keep the movies fresh ! But i have a feeling JJ might be pushed by paramount to direct a sequel. I think JJ himself gets like many many million bucks for directing each movie.

Schultz

QUOTE: “We won’t be in a position where our big, franchise pictures are offset by a handful of smaller, less successful films”

I don’t really know what he means by “offset”, because he doesn’t actually explain anything, but somehow it sounds really bad. The big franchise pictures indirectly finance the smaller ones. If they cut back on the latter, they will have more ammo for the big stuff like Trek, but it will eventually backfire. A film studio without a carefully planned ecosystem of films is doomed.