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.
— Jeri Ryan (@JeriLRyan) November 9, 2023
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Strike’s over so I’m posting something joyous. A bts from the last number we shot for Subspace Rhapsody. We had just wrapped the episode and hung around to sing on the set. Actors, writers, and crew, together. This captures my feeling right now. #SAGAFTRAStrong #WGAStrong #SNW pic.twitter.com/yJ0D8XmqIT
— Bill Wolkoff (@flying_lobster) November 9, 2023