CBS/Viacom Merger Announcement Expected Soon – Star Trek Re-Unification Cited As Factor

Reports regarding the re-merger of CBS and Viacom (parent company of Paramount Pictures) are buzzing again with expectations that an announcement could be made in August. Today it is being reported that bringing Star Trek back under one roof as it was before the CBS/Viacom split of 2005 is one of the considerations for the re-merger.

CBS and Viacom talking merger

As we reported in April, CBS and Viacom were again discussing a merger after talks broke down in 2018. Former CBS CEO Leslie Moonves was the main opponent for the deal, with Moonves gone controlling shareholder Shari Redstone appears to be getting her wish of merging. Earlier this week CNBC was first to report that both companies have picked August 8th to come to a deal. This report was later confirmed by industry trades. The date was chosen because it is the day both companies are set to announce their latest quarterly earnings. Variety is reporting today that Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has a lock for the CEO job for the merged entity, and both company’s boards are already discussing the post-merger management structure.

Industry analysts have been bullish on a re-merger. In addition to cost-savings and economies of scale resulting from a merger, it is expected to give the combined entity a boost in advertising revenue. The merger is also expected to position the merged entity better in the “streaming wars,” which may also lead to additional CBS acquisitions such as Starz, Lionsgate, and Univision.

Star Trek is a factor

And according to today’s The Hollywood Reporter, Star Trek is also a motivating factor. From today’s article:

Some insiders — only on deep background, but with a straight face — say that putting Star Trek back under one roof is, indeed, one important reason to reunite Viacom with CBS, much like Disney has worked hard to keep as many Marvel characters as possible in its singular House of Mouse. For that matter, Mission: Impossible also could use some continuity, as Viacom has the films while CBS ran the original series from 1966 to 1973.

CBS – who would be the purchasing entity for the merger – is clearly taking Star Trek seriously with their continued expansion of the television franchise. The company has announced a number of additional Star Trek series for CBS All Access, and an animated series for kids on Nickelodeon — which happens to be part of Viacom. All of this activity has been put under one roof already with the recent CBS announcement of the Star Trek Global Franchise Group, headed up by Alex Kurtzman. A re-merger would likely involve this group taking over the development of Star Trek feature films.

This is a developing story and TrekMovie will provide any updates when there is more re-merger news.

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Harry Ballz

Long overdue. Now, maybe they can have a cohesive vision for the future of the franchise.

A34

Why? That sounds boring.

Afterburn

Now you’re just being a d*ck and that’s saying something coming from me.

A34

Please be civil to Harry Ballz. There’s no need for that language here.

Afterburn

Keep digging your hole.

Holden

Just *now*? Ha.

GarySeven

Harry I was thinking differently, although I share your hope. To me it explained why Star Trek, like STD, is becoming typical 2019 Hollywood sci fi, more dystopian, full of action, weak stories, no meaningful social commentary. It’s seen only as “big business” by the suits, and they are hiring people like JJ who have turned it into that. It kind of explained a lot to me and I am coming to realize that hoping for continuity with previous Star Trek is swimming against the tide. I feel sad.

HubcapDave

So, they’re talking about getting back together for the sake of the kids…..

Tiger2

So maybe now Picard can get seven seasons and then a movie! Sounds familiar! ;D

A34

Don’t hold your breath waiting for that.

Holden

@Tiger2: I just want a picture of LeVar Burton. Not the real LeVar Burton. You can’t disappoint a picture!

TG47

It’s been making good corporate sense for a while to remerge, but whether the senior management can come together, even without Moonves’ obstruction, remains to be seen.

To be competitive, they need to bring the large portfolios of movie and TV series to a single streaming platform.

With streaming rights for Mission Impossible and various Paramount film properties, CBSAA would be be an increasingly interesting streamer.

Having the Trek backlist of TV series on the same streamer in the US as it is in Canada on Crave and outside North America on Netflix, has got to be a consideration too.

But I’m fretting about how well a merged board will manage the Trek property. Nothing Paramount has done on the Trek side gives me any confidence that they know how to manage it.

Just Another Salt Vampire

What you see with CBS is probably what you get in terms of current Trek management. JJ Abrams is leaving Paramount for Warners, so control of the movie end will be up for grabs soon. If this re-merger happens, the movies would likely be folded back into the television group run by Kurtzman et al.

TG47

I expect you’re right Salt Vampire.

However, if Trek is cited to shareholders as a rationale for the merger, the stakes will be higher and the level of scrutiny on Kurtzman’s management of the brand will continue to increase.

The global brand management VP and marketing team may be just the beginning of an intense level of brand management reporting directly to the top.

SuperionMaximus

Given the Star Trek Global Franchise Group, is headed up by Alex Kurtzman, would that extra scrutiny really be such a bad thing?

Plus, CBS – who would be the purchasing entity for the merger – will be in control this time. So, post re-merger the Tag line on all upcoming Paramount films will change likely from Paramount A Viacom Company to Paramount A CBS Company. This new entity seems like it will be a little different then the pre-2005 Viacom.

A34

JJ is still working on the new movie with Quentin Tarantino.

ObjectiveObserver

He will be “Executive Producer” in name only by the time it appears, if ever… I.E. he will get credited for developing it, but it will be the final door on his association with Trek.

Denny C

Possibly but not necessarily. I’m sure there’s a fair amount of anxiety about how everything will shake out after the merger.

Denny C

Senior management ultimately doesn’t have a choice. In the end everyone will have to fall in line and many will be asked to leave. With Viacom’s chief in charge of both properties it will ultimately be his call on just how both entities will move forward and puts those on the CBS side of things at somewhat of a disadvantage (Viacom may be the acquired asset on paper but it’s still all National Amusements).

All Access will likely evolve into something far beyond what it is today, utilizing Viacom’s assets which include everything from Sponge Bob to The Daily show.

As for the merged board, the board isn’t involved in the day-to-day. Bakish is the one you have to keep an eye on. They’re putting him in charge and he may decide to hand everything over to Kurtzman, take things in an entirely different direction or decide to shut things down that aren’t working. I would say that anything that hasn’t been given a firm green light is potentially as risk.

AJinMoscow

Paramount has managed its few franchises into the ground (remember when Transformers was an unstoppable moneymaker?). Trek, regardless of whether or not you like the JJ-verse films, also just never got the lift-off it needed to be a serious contender in the billion-buck club. Given a cohesive group of competent people running it on small and large screen, as well as for other forms of media and merchandise, and with a mind to canon mattering (Marvel – Avengers Endgame sold more Captain Marvel tickets), Trek has a chance to lock in a long profitable run for the merged studio.

Afterburn

I think if i were in charge I would not be so intent on making Trek a billion dollar film franchise. For films, i’d focus on modestly budgeted mid-level sci-fi vehicles, something where pulling in $400M globally would make it profitable. No reason Trek has to be a $180-200M feature.

TechNoir

I agree. Unfortunately, as I heard someone else put it, the “middle class” of modestly budgeted films is disappearing. There’s that go big mentality in blockbusters and that’s a shame. A scaled down Trek movie could force the filmmakers to go in some weird and interesting directions.

Afterburn

I’m aware of this, and that is just another reason why Trek will continue on TV as highly budgeted film-level productions on a streaming network.

That said, there ARE still successful, popular mid-level films prospering, like John Wick (who’s threequel brought in $316M WW), Shazam ($360M), and a Quiet Place ($340M).

A largely unknown cast, without being a huge actions spectacle– you know, like Trek films used to be– could be easily budgeted around $120M and do well bringing in $350-400M. And we know the audience is there: even the “disappointing” Beyond earned nearly $350M. The only reason it was a failure is it’s $185M price tag, and the only reason a sequel isn’t happening is the quickly skyrocketing salaries of the now star-studded cast who weren’t locked into 6 picture deals from the start.

A34

Star Trek will never be a huge film franchise. People don’t want to be called nerds in public for watching Trek.

Ian

Star Trek really isn’t Star Trek when it turns into a blockbuster action franchise. Its best moments are largely on TV, and while they include things like Kirk fighting the Gorn, the Enterprise D blowing up over and over again in “Cause and Effect” and the Dominion War, it’s the quieter character moments that sing loudest most of the time. Even in the movies, the explosiveness of Spock dying, of Chekov looking for nuclear wessels, or Picard smashing a case of little plastic ships far outweighs even the most elaborate space battle in the end. Earned character moments, more cerebral ideas and themes, and clever plotting will win out over the urge to spend their way into people’s good graces, even if they don’t always pack a trailer with what a movie needs to gross half a billion dollars.

These films don’t have to go back to being under-budgeted, but they can’t cost upwards of $150 million anymore, and J.J. Abrams’ hubris when he spent $190 million on Into Darkness should have been kept in check – it’s not like he was so grateful to Paramount for the creative freedom, he dumped his contractual obligation to them for Star Wars, twice!

Dav

Into Darkness made over 500mil so that’s really a non issue.

That being said 500mil is realistically top of the mark for a ST film. Trek just doesn’t have the broad appeal of Star Wars, Marvel, or Fast and Furious. (Thank God too! IMHO)

Beyond has been chastised as a flop but it made 434mil. People just need to have realistic expectations and realize that you can only dumb Trek down so much for a mainstream audience.

Afterburn

I agree, Dav, but it IS worth pointing out that prior to the MCU, outside of Spider-Man Marvel didn’t have the broad appeal of Star Wars either– the highest grossing Marvel movie other than Spider-Man was X3, which did $459M, on par with Into Darkness, with a budget considerably higher to boot.

My larger point is, with the right production team and vision, you can’t say it CAN’T be a mass-appeal franchise. And while I don’t hate what Kurtzman and co. have done, I don’t believe for a second they’re the ones to turn it into the next Marvel.

It’s got a long road to become that, and long odds, but not impossible.

alphantrion

Also I think we need to take into account the fact that Trek is not really too popular outside of US, especially in big global markets like China or the Arabian countries. This also will always limit the overall box office take of Trek movies. This is one of the reasons why I think CBS and Kurtzman is eager to develop the section 31 series with Michelle Yeoh, to get into that global demographic.

Afterburn

I’m not sure I agree with you there (with lack of China being a problem). You could have said the same thing about earlier Marvel movies, and now they are blockbusters there.

Besides, Star Trek: Into Darkness made $57M in China. Beyond did $65M. That’s not nothing– it’s on par with this year’s Aladdin, the Fantastic Beasts films, and more than where Toy Story 4 will probably end up.

Heck, the Deadpool films were banned there and did very well.

To focus on China for a moment, the region generally doesn’t get behind sci-fi very often– unless it’s their own (see: The Wandering Earth). But who knows, if the right movie is made? They loved Aquaman, they love the Marvel movies, and Ready Player One did over 200M. They had their reasons (fantasy, pop culture tie-ins) but the point is, it’s all about the individual film and the marketing. Blanket statements like “Star Trek/this genre is not popular in China” are problematic.

I think the focus needs to be on just making a great movie with a reasonable budget, and marketing it well. Do that, and the profit will come with it.

Roman Cernjak

quieter character moments, cerebral ideas… im guessing you havent seen STD haha

That’s why STD is not really Trek. ;-)

Eduardo Mello

Since I am not a fan of Alex Kurtzman and his vision of ST, I guess this is bad news…

Sucks to be you, I guess…

Star Trek Fan

Sucks to be a fan of Star Trek with Kurtzman around

A34

Only for you. Kurtzman is awesome.

Kurtzman produces like he’s never seen Trek in his life.

And has no interest in trying.

Jonboc

So, the powers behind the abysmal product being haphazardly hashed out at the newly “woke” CBS can now taint the feature films as well. I can barely contain my joy.

IAmSpock

Wow, you’re mad at the “woke” Star Trek series for having a woman lead and gay characters?

Bet you’re still mad that Kirk kissed Uhura.

Afterburn

He’s still mad the crew wasn’t all white men…

Pierre La Chance

Spock was a green man

Afterburn

No he wasn’t.

Denny C

He’s green. It’s a mild shade of green but he’s green.

Disinvited

Denny C,

Yep, Spock always had at least a tinge of olive-green in his 1st public incarnation. However, in Nimoy’s 1st screen tests he was Martian red.

alastair87

He was also Martian in early drafts. The idea of the Vulcans was actually later.

That worked out well, since the fact that there is no complex life on Mars is so well established it would have felt rather ridiculous to later audiences (not that other stuff isn’t completely wrong, but its bearable).

Disinvited

alastair87,

We know from our own planet that complex life evolved below the surface before it migrated onto the surface land masses. At this stage of our search on Mars we’ve barely scratched the surface, so it’s a bit premature to declare there’s absolutely no complex life remnant from its wet period there surviving somehow below the surface. But you aren’t wrong if what you meant to suggest is that the idea of some sort of sentient being like Spock with an underground civilization is very remote.

Star Trek Fan

Your assumption is nonsense. Being critical of STD doesn’t equal viewpoints against progress

Afterburn

OP wasn’t being critical of DSC, he was criticizing the concept of being “woke” which Star Trek has always been, relative to it’s “present” era.

A34

You would win that bet.

SuperionMaximus

I doubt any Star Trek fan cares about things like race, gender, or sexual identity. Star Trek was created as a means to embrace diversity and show an optimistic view of humanities future where none of those things are what defines a person.

What does suck about Discovery is that Star Trek has also never been about beheaded infants on camera, or splattering gore on the camera for chock value. Lose that nonsense and I doubt anyone would mind.

Also, Star Trek has always been about Boldly Going into the unknown, so the tiny universe that the Discovery writers room came up with is terrible. I love Sonequa Martin-Green as an actress and was excited when she was cast as the lead on Discovery. But I certainly fond it disappointing that her character had to be made into some sort of chosen one who’s single-handedly responsible for all the major events in the Galaxy in the 23rd century. If I want sci-fi about magic and destiny of the chosen ones, I’ve got Star Wars for that.

A34

“beheaded infants on camera”

What was wrong with that. Fans always talk about how ruthless and cool the Klingons are. So it’s pretty weird to see some here clutch their pearls when they actually show just how ruthless they are on screen.

SuperionMaximus

There are plenty of ways to show the Klingons as brutal and ruthless without spraying gore on the camera. Plus, we’ve had more then 50 years of Klingons now, and while they can be brutal, and ruthless, they are also as diverse a species as humans. The over emphasis on the brutality of the Klingons in Star Trek Discovery was an insult to the many great Klingon characters we’ve known throughout the history of the Franchise.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a life long fan of horror movies and thrillers, and I love seeing a bunch of drunk teenagers make poor choices and get butchered one by one on screen as much as the next guy. But that’s not what I love about Star Trek. I can enjoy a linear slasher flick, especially if it has enough of an original story to actually be scary, but I’m not a one dimensional person and enjoy many other things too. What I love about Star Trek was that it was optimistic, and tackled big issues, but also has fun space battles. It has felt small with Discovery. Hopefully Season 3 will change that now that they are off in the distant future

A34

But many people like gore. I would love to see a horror movie set in the Star Trek universe.

Plus the beheaded infant was a fake.

alphantrion

I think the producers are just approaching the redemption arc of Burnham in a wrong way. They think that because she had done something so horrific, they need to make her a superhuman to make her more relatable, while the exact opposite, being more thoughtful and thinking before acting approach would have suited the character better as a redemption arc.

A34

Don’t you have some place to crawl back under? Star Trek has always been progressive.

Charles Alexanian

I like the idea of this. I would like to see a continuation of the look and feel of the Star Trek we have enjoyed for decades but with modern special effects and serious writers who actually know and like Star Trek history.

A34

That look is long dead and thank God for that.

DeanH

Well we shall see if they can get it done this time. If so, that opens the door to a lot of Star Trek motion picture possibilities. Could we see a movie featuring the Enterprise with Captain Pike, Number One and Spock?? Maybe a Discovery movie? Anything is possible. First of all though, let’s see if they can close the deal!!

Alcazar

I think the main reason for getting all the licenses in one place is to create shows/movies that are NOT 25% different…or like in Discovery, 100% different.

Josiah Rowe

*sigh* This “25% different” canard is never going to die, is it?

IAmSpock

TrekMovie should have done an article that killed off that lie tbh

TG47

They’ve certainly tried.

Afterburn

There will always be st*pid people…

Andy T

yea, ask them how they would quantify 25% different, then, when they say ‘uh..duh?’, say: ‘Here’s your sign’!

Star Trek Fan

Yes, there will always be people who are blindly loyal to anything CBS and Kurtzman say

A34

You sound jealous.

Afterburn

There is st*upid, and then there is you, STF. You continue to set the bar lower, right alongside A34.

Star Trek Fan

Facts are facts

Afterburn

But a lie is not a fact, no matter how much you insist it is.

Roman Cernjak

discovery, for me, is doomed.
and im guessing the Picard show will fall under that same “25% different” umbrella.
unless they find a loophole by stating that “25 years later is already 25 percent different so shut up and let us do our show the way it should be done.”

TG47

This does not exist…

Denny C

The 25% thing was never a thing. Kind of a moot point now anyway.

while I love trek…. frankly I have little faith that the people running CBS or Viacom will do anything to repair the brand…

Mike2

So called Trek fans have been complaining that the brand is broken since the day TNG premiered. Frankly, as a fan for 45 years, to me this feels like we are living in the golden age of Trek. Discovery started out strong and is getting stronger. Picard, Section 31, and 2 animated series on the way. And now the potential to breath new life into the feature films. Amazing and wonderful stuff for a Star Trek fan.

TG47

Well Mike,it’s good to know that there’s others that remember the “It’ll never be REAL Trek!” of the early days of TNG.

Afterburn

Getting Mission Impossible back should not be underestimated: spinning a streaming series off from movie series would be huge for CBSAA.

alphantrion

So if this merger happens, how would this affect the proposed Quentin Tarantino Star Trek film? Would Kurtzman still be willing to work with him? or would he be considered too toxic?

Sam

If Abrams was willing to work with Tarantino, I don’t see why not Kurtzman.

CBS might think they can launch a more “conventional” film franchise though.

I kind of doubt it. Kurtzman previously made comments (regarding the possibility of a merger) stating that he fully understands and respects the difference between film and TV. But from his work in film I don’t believe he thinks movie audiences are very sophisticated at all. He may be just fine hiring directors who would make the next Star Trek Into Darkness or Amazing Spider-Man 2.

UthertheGreenShirt

Pike movie.

Sam

Too fan exclusive. Reestablish popularity and potential goodwill first, let them hear you talking instead of quietly mumbling to yourself. Tarantino Trek.

Denny C

If Paramount says it’s a go Tarantino would work with his usual people, much like JJ did with Star Trek in 2009. Kurtzman would not have to be involved.

TG47

And how does that work within a coherent brand strategy.

Yikes.

Mark Lynch

I honestly don’t see what difference this will make to Star Trek if this merger goes ahead.

UthertheGreenShirt

They can go back to the original time line for the movies.

Sam

I think they “could” do that anyway. I’ve never heard that the Kelvin universe was anything but a creative decision as opposed to a studio mandate. Of course CBS wasn’t really doing ST at the time.

A34

Yeah because those TNG movies did so well. /s 😆

Afterburn

Generations and FC were actually quite profitable. FC for example, made $146M WW, on a $45M budget.

A34

And it went down hill from there. Generations was a bore. FC was good as long as you didn’t question the plot.

What the hell was that pipe doing in engineering that could melt away your skin if the contents were released? WTH. Who signed off on that design?

Afterburn

But that is not relevant to the point being made.

Denny C

It just makes things easier to handle. There are no Paramount assets and CBS assets, it all falls under one roof.

ThroughTheAges

Possible new series starring Gary Seven… “STAR TREK: IMPOSSIBLE”

ML31

Maybe we will finally see that Gary 7 spinoff series on CBSAA?

A34

I still don’t see how this will effect Star Trek much.

Afterburn

The films could appear on CBSAA, and the TV series, and characters from them, could be spun off into films. Not to say that this couldn’t happen before with the right deal, but Paramount had control. Now CBS will, and can make choices that benefit the franchise as a whole. This has been mentioned ad nauseum on this site. Maybe pick your head up from under Kurtzman’s desk once in a while.

You don’t have to always be down there sweeping the floor.

A34

I don’t see it happening. Star Trek movies are a lossleader. If you think Star Trek is going to be the next marvel franchise then I have a space ship to sell you.

Afterburn

Facepalm. Please please please learn to follow a discussion, you absolute muppet. This merger will have a HUGE impact on Trek, and it has been talked about how quite a bit.

Methuselah

You don’t need to be a jerk to the guy. But nevertheless, you are 100% correct about this.

SOMEBODY needs to be a jerk to him. Afterburn seems like as good a candidate as anyone.

A34

I really doubt it…

Mike

@Afterburn The selling point of this merger isn’t that characters from tv shows could be spun off into films– there isn’t enough public interest in Trek to justify throwing a budget into that.

@A34 The reason this merger is amazing is it means the current iterations of Trek on TV won’t need to abide by the current limited licensing agreement (which started when Bad Robot took over in 2009) where they need to make sure the films/shows are 20% different than the previous incarnations of Trek– pre ST09. This licensing agreement is why the re-designed Enterprise in both 2009 and STD made their ships massively larger than the scale of the original Enterprise. And it’s why the uniforms Pike and crew wore in STD couldn’t be exactly the same as what the design looked like in TOS (even though in Deep Space 9 they established in canon that the uniforms did in fact look as we saw them in TOS–despite being dated today). It’s also why people apparently communicate using star wars-like hologram technology in STD (which they tried telling us was in the “prime” timeline)… despite this tech never being used again until later in Deep Space 9 when they referred to it as “experimental” new technology. Hologram communication was used primarily to abide by the licensing agreement and differentiate the brands.

STD could only happen under this current licensing agreement, and this agreement established that it needed to be at least 20% different in order to separate the pre Bad Robot Trek brand and the Bad Robot Trek brand. This new merger won’t guarantee that future trek will be more faithful– but it does untie the creative’s hands as to what they’re allowed to do with trek in tv and film. And if past Trek characters do pop up in a new series, we’re more likely to see these characters be grounded in the history of what we saw pre-bad robot Trek… and not a 20% different approximation of the history of that character.

A34

The “20% different” thing is a lie. It’s fake news created by youtubers trying to cash into the Star Trek hate.

Paulyp

Can we see the enterprise e in a tvshow or mention any of the movie plots on tv now?

Lope de Aguirre

So we will get a DS9 Remaster and UHDs of I-X soon???

Nachum

Mission Impossible *aired* on CBS, but it was owned by Desilu and then Paramount after Desilu was taken over by Paramount. Just like Star Trek aired on NBC but was owned by Desilu and then Paramount. That’s why Paramount makes both the ST and M:I movies. Paramount and CBS merged much later.

Ironically, Desilu was created to that CBS wouldn’t own I Love Lucy. Now it does.

(CBS pretended to be interested in ST so they could see what Roddenberry had up his sleeve, but were going to go with Lost in Space all along.)

Disinvited

Nachum,

Don’t forget MANNIX. That was the third DesiLu TV property that old Paramount had determined had possibilities as a motion picture production in its trifecta.

Dom

Star Trek had a shared universe before anyone and squandered it over petty interpersonal and corporate politics. This merger can’t happen a moment too soon.

This will also likely benefit other franchises such as Mission: Impossible (I’d love to see a new M:I TV show.)

Vantheman77

I wonder if we will get crossover movies between Prime timeline and Kelvin timeline.