The new head of Paramount Pictures is talking extensively about Star Trek for the first time since taking over the studio in September. Brian Robbins discussed the development of multiple Trek feature films, including an animated feature.
Prodigy inspiring more animated Trek on the small screen… and the big screen
In early 2019 when Star Trek: Prodigy was first announced as a new kids’ animated series for Nickelodeon, Brian Robbins was still heading up Nick for Viacom. To commemorate the launch he and Alex Kurtzman, the executive producer in charge of the Star Trek Television Universe for Paramount+, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the importance of the new series. Robbins revealed even before Kurtzman pitched the show he was already talking to people within CBS to “really try to do something with the franchise and Nickelodeon.”
Robbins confirmed that Prodigy will air on Nickelodeon after the first run on Paramount+. He and Kurtzman both agreed that the goal of the series is to bring in new viewers who will then turn to other franchise content available on Paramount+, with Robbins pointing to that happening now with other Nick productions like the recent Paw Patrol movie.
In response to a question about potential new animated Trek shows for kids, Kurtzman indicated that there have already been “lots of conversations” about how to build on any success Prodigy has. Robbins weighed in, indicating an interest in possible animated Trek movies:
The data is pretty obvious. We’re going to be patient because we think the show is fantastic and creatively just exceeds all expectations. I have no doubt that we’ll be doing more. Alex and I have talked about what the theatrical film version of this show is and the likes of that. We’re really excited. [Nickelodeon animation head] Ramsey [Naito] and our Nick team could not be more thrilled to explore more.
Both Robbins and Kurtzman pointed to the recent Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as a model of the kind of “four-quadrant family movie” they envision for an animated Star Trek feature film.
Looking at live-action options
In regard to the status of the live-action Star Trek feature films, Robbins told THR:
Where we go with the franchise next theatrically is crucial to the health of the overall franchise. There’s no doubt that big theatrical movies are the beacon that ignite franchises. We’re in it and I don’t really have anything to say because I’m waiting for the development to be delivered. I can’t wait to get going on it, but we’re not there yet but we need to get there soon.
He has a reason for urgency, as the studio has not released a Star Trek film in over five years, but in July, Paramount did stake out June 9, 2023 for the next release. That project has been expected to be based on the one producer J.J. Abrams put together with WandaVisions’s Matt Shakman tapped to direct based on a script co-written by Captain Marvel screenwriter Geneva Robertson-Dworet. THR pressed Robbins to elaborate on his plans for the next film in the franchise:
Is that something that would involve Alex or is that a J.J. Abrams thing?
Robbins: We don’t know enough yet. We’re working on several fronts and obviously Alex is the key for the franchise [on Paramount+]. J.J. has been the keeper of the franchise on the film side. We hope that as a company that we do what’s right for the franchise altogether.
Are you getting scripts for a live-action feature from both camps?
Robbins: There’s a lot going on and I’m just going to leave it at that.
In September, Paramount shifted dates for a number of 2021 and 2022 films, so it would not be surprising if their 2023 slate, including that June Star Trek movie, also moved to later in the calendar.
Crafting a long-term Trek films plan
The Abrams/Shakman project was developed by Emma Watts, who joined the studio in 2020 and shut down the Noah Hawley Star Trek film which was headed to pre-production at that time. Earlier this year, Watts and Abrams also commissioned a script for a separate Trek film project based on an original idea from Discovery writer Kalinda Vazquez. However, Watts herself has now left Paramount following the September management shakeup that resulted in Robbins taking over.
It’s possible the studio is again taking a moment to rethink things. Robbins did confirm they are taking a long-term view of the film franchise:
The idea is what do we do next for the franchise that’s going to work for the next five and 10 years, not just one movie at a time like Alex has talked about. That’s what we really have to figure out.
However, when asked how far along was this plan, Robbins admitted, “Well, I’ve been in [this] job for seven minutes, so not that far.”
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