Actors Strike Ends – What This Means For Star Trek Production

After 118 days on strike, SAG-AFTRA, the union representing the actors, and the group representing the studios, AMPTP (which includes Paramount), came to a tentative agreement. Following prolonged (and often contentious) negotiations that restarted two weeks ago, the tentative deal was announced on Wednesday evening. SAG-AFTRA ended their strike at 12:01 AM Thursday morning following a unanimous vote of the negotiating committee (which includes Star Trek: Picard actress Michelle Hurd and Discovery actor Anthony Rapp). This tentative deal brings an end to the work disruption that began when the writers went on strike in early May. That strike ended up in late September .

According to SAG-AFTRA, the new contract is valued at over one billion dollars and includes an increase in minimum compensation, a “streaming participation bonus,” and “unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI.” Complete details for the new deal will be released following a vote by the SAG-AFTRA board on Friday. The tentative agreement will then be presented to members for a final vote. During the approval process, work can resume for SAG-AFTRA members.

Star Trek: Voyager and Picard actress Jeri Ryan has been an active supporter of the strike and regular on the picket line celebrated the end of the strike with a simple post Twitter/X.

Restarting Star Trek TV

The first thing fans will notice is actors will again be able to talk about and promote Star Trek projects past, present, and future. This will be evident on social media starting today, as well as in upcoming media interviews and fan conventions. When it comes to Star Trek production, things are a bit more complicated. Even though some work had restarted after the WGA strike ended in late September, no actual filming could begin until the actors’ strike was resolved. The end of the SAG-AFTRA strike will have different impacts on the various Star Trek projects:

Strange New Worlds

A third season of Strange New Worlds was mostly written and about to go into production when the WGA strike began in May. In his August TrekMovie interview, producing director Chris Fisher said most pre-production had been completed,  including AR Wall visual effects for most of the 10 episodes. Fisher also told TrekMovie “Once the strike is over, fingers crossed, I don’t think it’s going to be long ’till we’re back up and running.” In October at NYCC, executive producer Alex Kurtzman talked about season 3, saying “We’re we are now back on our feet and everything’s kind of getting resettled. Schedules are shifting around but it’s definitely in the works and we cannot wait.” So it looks like production could get going in the near future once schedules are set for the actors, bearing in mind that auditions and casting of guest stars weren’t allowed during the SAG-AFTRA strike. Another wrinkle that can impact Strange New Worlds is the Section 31 movie, as both are Toronto-based productions which will share some creative staff as well as sets and assets, including the important AR Wall stage. However, in his August interview, Chris Fisher told TrekMovie he believed both productions could work in parallel, saying: “I don’t see why everything Star Trek can’t start up and start to get going.”

Section 31 movie

The streaming event movie starring Michelle Yeoh reprising her Discovery role as Empress Philippa Georgiou turned Section 31 operative was originally planned to begin production this fall, with November penciled in for a production start. Even before the WGA strike began, a script by Craig Sweeny had already been completed, with Discovery producing director Olatunde Osunsanmi set to helm the project. After winning an Oscar earlier this year, Yeoh has been in high demand, so her post-strike schedule is likely complicated based on all the work she hasn’t been able to start since May. However, at NYCC in October, executive producer Alex Kurtzman said the production was already “back on our feet” following the end of the WGA strike, reconfirming the movie “is happening.” He specifically noted that even after she had such an “unbelievable” year offering her many opportunities, Yeoh has stayed focused on the Star Trek project. “What she did with all of the power she had accrued is make sure that Section 31 was moving forward,” said Kurtzman. Pre-production work for this project continued over the summer so it’s possible this is the next Star Trek project to go in front of the cameras, but no date has been set yet.

Starfleet Academy

The other live-action project in development is the Star Trek: Starfleet Academy series, which was announced earlier this year. When the WGA strike began, the writers room (which includes Star Trek: Lower Decks star Tawny Newsome) was still at work crafting scripts for the first season, and that work restarted in October. Alex Kurtzman is co-showrunner for the YA show along with  Noga Landau (Nancy Drew). Production was originally set to begin in early 2024 and at NYCC Alex Kurtzman provided an update, saying “We are officially going to start shooting next year.”

Discovery

Production on the fifth season of Star Trek: Discovery was completed in late 2022, and reshoots were completed earlier this year to change the season finale into a series final after Paramount decided to make it the final season. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman confirmed work on the season was already “finished” and it was still set to be released in early 2024. Paramount+ has not yet set an official release date but with the SAG-AFTRA strike concluded, they can now schedule a publicity tour that includes the actors as they have promised to do a promotional push for the final season. We should expect a release date announcement soon for Discovery season 5.

Lower Decks

The animated Star Trek shows fall under the TAG (The Animation Guild) contract, so writing continued for the fifth season of Star Trek: Lower Decks during the WGA strike. At New York Comic Con in mid-October, showrunner Mike McMahan confirmed he was working on the script for the season finale. Some voice recording had begun in the early summer, but even though voice work also fell under the TAG contract, it was put on pause until the SAG strike concluded. Paramount has not set a date for season 5, but so far each season has been released in late summer. At NYCC, McMahan said he believed that season 5 would be ready next year.

Prodigy

The second season of Star Trek: Prodigy was already in post-production when the WGA strike began in May and was not impacted by either that or the SAG-AFTRA strike. After being removed from Paramount+ in June, the show has now been licensed to Netflix. The first season is expected to return on Netflix in December with season 2 confirmed for some time in 2024.

Other TV development

With the conclusion of the WGA strike in late September, writers and producers could again work on development projects and pitches. There are no confirmed Star Trek television projects in development, but it has been reported that Section 31 would be the first of more Star Trek streaming movie events for Paramount+. Many of the actors and members of the creative team behind the Next Generation-infused third and final season of Star Trek: Picard have spoken publicly about their hopes for a spinoff. However, Picard showrunner Terry Matalas and others have confirmed no official development is underway for what has been (unofficially) dubbed “Star Trek: Legacy.”

Corporate belt-tightening at cash-strapped Paramount Global has already impacted Paramount+, who removed or cancelled several shows. The impact on Star Trek included the removal of Prodigy and the wrap-up of Discovery. But Paramount+ is still greenlighting new shows and seasons, especially for anything related to producer Taylor Sheridan and his Yellowstone universe. In 2023, after Nielsen began tracking Paramount+ shows, the only ones to show up on the original streaming series top 10 have been Star Trek (Picard and Strange New Worlds) or Sheridan-produced (1923 and Lioness).

At Comic-Con in October, Alex Kurtzman had a note of optimism when it came to the future of Trek on Paramount+:

“I have to say, our friends at Paramount+ have been unbelievable, truly unbelievable. They have supported all of these shows in the most extraordinary ways. I will tease that I did meet with everybody at the top this week. And there’s a bunch of new things now in the works, which is really, really exciting. So there’s no shortage of support from Paramount+ for the Star Trek Universe.”

Embed from Getty Images

Star Trek 4

Paramount Pictures has been trying to get a Star Trek feature film project going since 2016’s Star Trek Beyond. The most recent effort (unofficially dubbed “Star Trek 4”) would follow up Beyond with the Kelvin Universe cast led by Chris Pine’s James T. Kirk. That project was set to go into production in late 2022 for a Christmas 2023 release, but work on that came to a halt in the summer of 2022, leading to the exit of director Matt Shakman. Speaking at the 57-Year mission convention in August, actor Zachary Quinto (Spock) cited “different agendas” holding back the project. In his recent TrekMovie interview, makeup designer James MacKinnon said pre-production was halted in June 2022 over script issues. However, one of the original writers of the film recently described it as still “on the tracks” at the studio and Variety has reported that following the WGA strike, Paramount was looking to do some “fine-tuning” on the script to get it back into pre-production “soon.” The most frequently cited reason for the film’s delay is aligning the schedules for the cast, which will only get more complicated as each of them gets back to work following the SAG-AFTRA strike. For example, Zachary Quinto just signed up to lead a new medical drama (Dr. Wolf) for NBC. Hopefully, the studio can sort it what it wants to do on the big screen with Star Trek soon and move forward with the Star Trek 4 project or possibly move in a different direction with a different cast.

Zachary Quinto talks about Star Trek 4 at STLV 2023 (Photo: Jon Spencer/TrekMovie.com)

Star Trek in 2024

Summing up, the end of the double strikes will allow for Star Trek projects to fully get back to work, but that doesn’t mean cameras will start rolling this week. Beyond scheduling, there is the practical issue that we are headed into the holiday season, which often sees a lull in production across the industry. It’s possible that no filming for Star Trek will get going until early 2024.

Looking at what we can expect to see for new Star Trek in 2024, only a couple of things have been confirmed. The 10-episode fifth and final season of Discovery should arrive early in the year on Paramount+. Also, Netflix will release the second season of Prodigy sometime in 2024, although it isn’t known how they plan on rolling out all 20 episodes. The 10-episode fifth season of Lower Decks could also arrive late in the year now that voice work can resume for the animated comedy.

As for the Section 31 movie and the third season of Strange New Worlds, their release is a function of when production can start. In theory either could arrive on Paramount+ in late 2024 but almost certainly not both. It’s also quite possible both will end up in 2025. As for Starfleet Academy, even before the strikes, the show was not expected to debut until 2025.

This is a developing story, so stay tuned to TrekMovie for more post-strike updates on the Star Trek Universe on TV and Star Trek films.

For now, we leave you with this post from Strange New Worlds writer/producer Bill Wolkoff celebrating the end of the strikes by sharing a video of a “joyous” moment behind the scenes filming the musical episode “Subspace Rhapsody.”

 


 

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Awesome news! We need the content pipeline machinery to resume, not looking forward to “The Void” after Discovery season 5 finishes.
In the meantime, I suggest a TrekMovie origin episode, I would love to hear a breakdown on how Anthony came up with the idea, and what it took to get launched. Any obstacles, or was it smooth sailing? How did he find Laurie, how did she get involved? Was he aware of Laurie’s disposition towards musical episodes (I’m just like her, regularly rewatching that ep or listening to the soundtrack).
Just a thought. Keep up the great podcast!! 👍🖖

LOL, actually, that would be quite fun to see!

Hope they ramp up the Disco finale season and have the actors out there promoting the hell out of it. No matter how some might feel – it’s the series that started this resurgence of Trek and deserves its due before the final curtain call. Hopefully, they can do that now. I honestly feel like to fill the void, we’ll hear an announcement that Legacy will be happening. I wasn’t the biggest fan of season 3 but the ratings of Picard season 3 makes it a good business move for Paramount+ unless they decide to actually air it on CBS and Paramount+ simultaneously.

…truly an exciting time back when DSC was announced.

…and then was a major disappointment when it was released. And then kept getting worse for 2 years.

what happened to Kurtzman saying he head the fans ‘loud and clear’ regarding our love of season 3 of Picard? the news of SF Academy was met with crickets. they might as well sell that show to air on the CW.

i get wanting to move things forward with the franchise, but why not give ST Academy to Terry Matalas to run? he got ‘it’ ie what makes trek trek and i’m sure he could put more than lipstick on that pig of a 32nd century DSC spinoff. ratings don’t lie and SNW and PIC S3 should have shown Paramount / Kurtzman what viewers and fans want and will make them profitable. no ones signing up for Paramount + except to watch ST

As the article explains, the actor’s strike only just ended and the writer’s strike hasn’t been over very long. There’s only so much progress anyone could have made on getting the existing shows back on their feet, let alone hypothetical new ones.

As for SFA, it’s not Matalas’ idea and it’s being developed by two writers already. He loves Trek, but we can’t presume he’d even want to work on something that different from what he’s been working on.

Asides from conventions, Matalas has been away from Trek for almost two years now. I’d of expected he would have picked up some work prior to the strike, and if he didn’t, one has to ask, why not?

I agree with you. The only way I’d come back to P+ is for Legacy. But, I don’t expect it to happen. I think they are targeting a young adult audience and believe more YA content like SFA and SNW can bring in new subscribers.

…..your love for season three of Picard. Plenty of fandom saw it for what it was, an exercise in fan service.
Taylor Sheridan would like a word with you.
This has been explained ad nauseum: PS3 wrapped early 2022. When it aired, SAG-AFTRA and WFG went on strike shortly after, so there wasn’t then, or isn’t now, any conversation at all about developing either a spin off or season four of Picard. Both the Academy show and the S31 movie were deep into preproduction when work stopped, so there’s no “giving” either to Matalas, without incurring significant additional costs and production delays.
If a choice has to be made, it’s more seasons of SNW’s and LD’s. Both shows are good, now established, with good chemistry. To be blunt, the P:S3 story was s**t. A spin off show would have to clean up that mess with supporting characters that were pretty one dimensional to begin with. If the stars line up, you’ll have that show in early 2026.

Kurtzi says a lot to hear himself talk, and then does the exact opposite.

But what else would you expect from ::checks notes:: one of the guys who wrote “Transformers” and Michael Bay’s “The Island”?

All that time that he was a writer on “Hercules” and “Xena” really paid off for him (nepotism-wise) in the end, I guess.

a petition without even 70 thousand signatures. Do you seriously think that is enough to change the studios minds. I know enough about petitions to know the studios don’t listen to them. I mean i know Lucasfilm doesn’t. Still waiting for the original Star Wars trilogy.

Cheers to Michelle Yeoh for sticking by her Trek commitments, though my interest in a Section 31 movie is if anything lessened beyond what it would already be by it being centered around a character not even native to this universe. Not too keen on a 31st century academy series either, though you never know. The second season of SNW was at least somewhat disappointing in spite of some highlights, and I hope that they’ve used the time afforded by the end of the WGA strike to ensure that the scripts are up to snuff.

You echo my feelings about the current state of the franchise perfectly. Cheers!

Really? That’s pretty surprising for me to read, as your comments (particularly on SNW) have struck me as far more critical.

…I was pretty critical about this past season of SNW, true. With the exception of a couple of episodes, I thought the quality dropped compared to S1, which I enjoyed overall.

Sorry; I must have gotten you confused with someone else, since I was thinking that your comments as a whole on the series were critical (not that there’s anything wrong with that). My bad.

Again, I’d agree that the quality dropped considerably between seasons, though I gather that I liked S2 at least somewhat better than you did. For me, though it’s a rough analogy, it’s something like the change between TOS’ first two seasons: still worth the watch, but noticeably not as good. With no Covid to contend with and all of that time to polish since the end of the WGA strike, I hope they do better next time, that’s for sure.

I’m ecstatic that SNW can go back into production soon, but right now I think I’m most excited that the Delta Flyers can finally begin their DS9 watching.

That’s wonderful news! I’m glad the actors will be compensated fairly, and I’m thrilled that Star Trek will go back into production!

That’s an absolutely adorable clip from Bill Wolkoff! I love how the actors are still so revved up that they can’t just calm down and go home; they have to sing it all again. So cute and sweet.

You wrote us a truly fabulous episode, Mr. Wolkoff; thanks so much!

Awesome news and I hope the actors were able to cut a good and fair deal with the studios.

The only downside for the SNW cast and crew… instead of a nice S3 summer and fall shooting schedule in Mississauga Toronto (GTA), they are now probably stuck with having to be up here in December through April. As someone who spent several years in NorCal and the Gulf Coast of the US and got spoiled, winter in the GTA, although not ridiculously cold like some parts of Canada, is still not a lot of fun!

As someone who suffers through the boiling heat of Australia for 9 months a year, I would personally commit mass murder to live in the ice cold of Canada even for just a few months.

As a transplant from the tropics to the northern midwest of the USA, let me assure you, the novelty wears off fast. ;)

Inverse has got a Matt Shakman interview that seems to cover every detail of his career including as a kid actor, but still wholly omits his year-plus working on the unmade next TREK film. (he even talks somewhat diplomatically about the last season of GoT, so the fact he even went there suggests he might have talked TREK if asked, who knows.)

Either that, or there really wasn’t that much Trek to talk about.

If there’s nothing to talk about after a year’s investment, that is still a story, just cuz it means a huge waste of time and resources.

If that Section 31 movie is a success I think they can continue doing regular movies in different settings and time periods of Trek. I personally want one directed by David Cronenberg and maybe they could turn that Klingon show pitch from Michael Dorn into another movie.

I can totally get behind the idea of multiple films covering different aspects of the Trek universe as opposed to series. More variety, perhaps better writing and stories, different directors. For instance, I’m much more apt to watch the Sec. 31 film rather than a whole series on it.

Definitely agree with this. TV movies and miniseries strike me at this point as the obvious means to experiment and keep the franchise fresh and viable. Bring in some new blood and mix things up!

Start Filming Star Trek Academy!

Sometime next year. SNW’s was ready to start shooting when the WGA struck.

I am looking forward to Star Trek getting back into production.
I’m gonna be honest I don’t think they will greenlight any other productions right now until another series ends. Paramount+ is struggling financially a bit so I’d say of a new series is going to start (Legacy looking at you) it probably when one of the current ones ends.

The streaming films could do one every few months – when one is finished production another could be greenlite and keep a constant release of Star Trek films being released.

Don’t complain when they jack up the prices.

I hear that every time a labor deal is struck (or the minimum wage goes up), and the forty dollar combo meal, UPS doubling its prices, or your cable/streamer rates getting “jacked up” just doesn’t happen.

Aw man, I was hoping that these strikes would have killed the ill-advised Section31 Movie. Nothing like a mysterious secretive organization that doesn’t require much exposition getting an ENTIRE MOVIE about themselves for little reason other than Kurtzman & Co apparently love squeezing blood from a stone. It’s about QUALITY, not QUANTITY, Kurtzi — you’d do well to remember that. Also glad that “Discovery” is ending, so it doesn’t have to be talked about anymore. Lastly, I think the JJ Abrams Kelvinverse is quite dead. It’s been almost a decade since one of those was made, the last one (whereas FAR better than the TWOK ripoff that Into Dumbness was) didn’t do so hot at the Box Office, and the scripts that have been passed around sound quite schlocky and undermining, if not out and out boring.

IMHO, It really needs to die, along with a good number of other parts of Trek, in order to get an even keel and start from scratch with a moderate amount of intelligence behind the scripts. An actual eye towards continuity is preferable, as well as keeping the worldbuilding from spiraling out of control (or simply not being addressed, as is the case with a fair amount of TV Trek nowadays— it all feels like it wants to be a Sci-Fi Epic Film, when in reality we want it to know and realize that it is a TV show and the galaxy doesn’t need to f*cking end every season. It gets boring.) It also harms the 50+ years that other people who don’t see this as “just another paycheck” put their heart and soul into it— for example, the lack of attention to detail in things like “Picard” or “SNW”: it’s disgraceful, and it’s disappointing.

The whole thing should be wiped clean after Lower Decks ends, and the franchise needs to go back to 90’s Era Trek and start again. We tried emulating Star Wars and did not stick the landing. Let’s go back and get some optimism and make some GOOD Star Trek, not a mediocre General Sci-Fi show that has names and labels slapped onto it for fan service.

Star Trek needs an enema. That is the long and the short of it.

When a movie happens i’ll be there tickets in hand. Otherwise its a bunch of talk. I’m one of the few who liked Into Darkness but who also was bothered by the amount of time between films. I like Super 8 but the delay was ridiculous. That long wait in between film 1 and 2 killed interest. Not actually following up 2 with a third one that wasn’t a soft reboot also killed interest. Beyond was subpar and as kids would say mid. Should have leaned into being Trekkian instead of trying to be Fast and the furious or Guardians of the galaxy.