Last week’s big news that Paramount Pictures had put a Star Trek movie on the calendar for the summer of 2023 has fans buzzing and wondering if it will be connected to all the Star Trek TV happening on Paramount+. Now the man in charge of all those TV shows is weighing in on the new reality of modern franchises.
Kurtzman on the line between movies and TV
Today Variety has an extensive cover story feature on “How Big IP Is Driving the Streaming Wars.” The article looks at how the media landscape has changed in recent years “obliterating the traditional silos between film and television.” It cites many examples from different media companies, holding out how Disney is handling the Marvel and Star Wars franchises as the gold standard.
For Trekkies, the article examines how ViacomCBS is adapting to this new world. Alex Kurtzman, who has been heading up ViacomCBS efforts to build out the Star Trek Universe on TV, had this to say about the state of things:
“I think vertical alignment has made it so that it’s impossible not to accept the reality that the line between movies and television is gone. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a feature that is separate from television. But if they aren’t connected in some way, then you’re basically running two universes parallel as opposed to interconnected, and I think that those messages could potentially cancel each other out.”
The last three Star Trek feature films – the first of which was co-written by Kurtzman – set up their own “Kelvin” Star Trek universe through the narrative of time travel and parallel universes. This allowed those films to have their own identity and stand apart from previous films and television shows set in the “Prime” universe. However, these films were made in a period when there weren’t any Star Trek television shows in production — and while Paramount Pictures and CBS (who produce Trek television) were part of separate media companies. Paramount and Viacom have now re-merged with CBS, with the new ViacomCBS currently producing five Trek television series (three of which are live-action) for the Paramount+ streaming service.
While the Star Trek TV shows and films have primarily occupied actual parallel universes in the last decade or so, there have been connections. For example, the entire Romulan refugee storyline featured in Star Trek: Picard season one is based on the destruction of Romulus plotline from the 2009 Star Trek movie. Kurtzman has also strived to have the Star Trek Universe shows match the level of production design seen in the recent Trek features, including moving to a widescreen cinematical style.
Kurtzman’s comment to Variety about the media landscape of the 2020s could indicate more connectedness to come.
Star Trek showrunners coordinating
While the connection between future Star Trek films and television shows is still uncertain, Kurtzman did give details on how the various Star Trek shows have started working closer together. From the Variety report:
Kurtzman says those who oversee the various “Star Trek” properties have begun strategizing to an even greater degree within ViacomCBS in the past year, with the launch of a monthly showrunners’ meeting. It allows everyone to see what parts of the “Star Trek” universe are being utilized on other shows.
“We make sure that those showrunners are coordinating so that they’re not stepping on each other’s toes,” he says.
We have already seen the early fruits of this coordination between Star Trek: Discovery, Lower Decks, and Picard with some elements of continuity. With more shows coming it makes even more sense to have these creatives talking to each other on a regular basis.
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