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Bad Robot Productions, Inc. is the production company which co-produced the 2009 alternate reality Star Trek film Star Trek with Paramount Pictures. It is owned by the film's producer/director J.J. Abrams. Star Trek executive producer Bryan Burk is the company's Executive Vice President. The company also co-produced the 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness and the 2016 sequel Star Trek Beyond.

As Bad Robot Interactive it published the video game Star Trek D-A-C alongside Paramount Digital Entertainment.

Overview Edit

Originally part of Touchstone Pictures, the company has worked on the development of motion picture projects for Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures, starting in 2006. The US$60 million deal was up for renewal in 2018. [12] [13] In addition to Star Trek, Bad Robot oversaw production on the films Joy Ride (2001), Mission: Impossible III (2006), and Cloverfield (2008). On television, Bad Robot has produced the series Felicity, Alias, Six Degrees, What About Brian, Person of Interest, Alcatraz, and Revolution, all created or co-created by Abrams, and the hit ABC series Lost, co-created by Abrams and Damon Lindelof.

Bad Robot produced the FOX series Fringe, created by Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci, and the NBC series Undercovers, created by Abrams and Josh Reims. Further films include Morning Glory (2010), Super 8 (2011), Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015), and for television the acclaimed science fiction television series Westworld (2016), as well as the series 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), and God Particle (2017).

A major production partner became Lucasfilm Ltd., a Walt Disney Company subsidiary as of 2012, for the production of the revitalized Star Wars film franchise, starting in 2015 with the blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens, directed by J.J. Abrams himself. Four Star Wars films have followed suit, though Abrams has stated in late 2019 that he (and thus his company) is "totally done" with Star Wars, [14] reportedly over editing issues regarding the 2019 outing The Rise of Skywalker he himself had directed, [15] in a manner of speaking mirroring his earlier, hereafter mentioned, dissatisfaction with the Star Trek franchise.

After having already expressed its desire to disassociate itself from Paramount in November 2018, [16] Bad Robot eventually signed a lucrative multimedia deal with WarnerMedia Film (the holding company of Warner Bros, one of the two original partners in 2006) in September 2019, which encompassed the entire hereafter specified Bad Robot conglomerate. [17]

Star Trek Edit

Prior to his involvement with the revived Star Wars franchise, and pursuant the release of the 2009 Star Trek film, Abrams had hoped to develop further Star Trek TV series and multimedia, in which Bad Robot would have a financial share. However, the merchandising rights to the original Star Trek were owned by CBS Studios, which did not want to diminish its revenue stream in favor of new productions from Bad Robot/Paramount. [18] [19] After completing Star Trek Into Darkness, Abrams decided to abandon his plans for further Star Trek, in part due to frustration at his inability to control Star Trek merchandising due to the CBS/Viacom ownership split.[1] He retained the title of co-producer for Star Trek Beyond, but had little involvement in its development, turning his attention instead to Mission: Impossible and Star Wars.

Meanwhile, his former co-worker Alex Kurtzman had formed his own production company, Secret Hideout in 2014, with a television arm founded in 2016. Since Abrams had declined to exercise his contractual first option rights to make new Star Trek series, Kurtzman was able to produce Star Trek: Discovery and subsequent series for CBS All Access. [20] Secret Hideout is otherwise not affiliated with Bad Robot and are in effect industry rivals, especially after Secret Hideout gained control over the film franchise as well after the below-mentioned December 2019 "reunification" of the television, and film franchises.

In contrast, Bad Robot opted in November 2018 not to renew the development deal with Paramount, in part motivated by the dismal performance of Beyond and Abrams' frustration with the franchise, instead seeking a new overall deal with the other major Hollywood studios, [21] eventually throwing in its lot with WarnerMedia Film in September 2019 with a very similar, but far more lucrative development deal. For Paramount, already plagued by severe financial setbacks (and thus unable to meet Bad Robot's financial demands for a renewal [22]), losing one of its most important production partners, for the Star Trek films in particular, became a major consideration for their decision to cancel Star Trek 4 in January 2019, initially slated to be produced under the auspices of Bad Robot as well.

Nonetheless, both prospect Star Trek XIV writer/directors Quentin Tarentino and Noah Howley have intimated that Bad Robot was still associated with the Star Trek film franchise in one way or another as a potential production partner (Bad Robot's Star Trek film deal had in the meantime expired as well because of the "defection" to Warner[2] [23]), as both have reported to be engaged with Abrams in preliminary talks, [24] [25] but it remains to be seen how the December 2019 reunification of the Star Trek television and film franchises will impact the further participation, if any, of Bad Robot in the franchise (especially in light of both the merchandise conflict and Bad Robot's subsequent disassociation from Paramount) – or the alternate reality itself for that matter. Furthermore, part of the reunification also entailed both film and television franchises being placed under the (production) end auspices of the by Kurtzman headed newly formed and consolidated "Star Trek Global Franchise Management" unit based out of his Secret Hideout, [26] meaning that Bad Robot would become subordinated, if involved. Additionally and ironically, the new situation also entailed the global franchise unit, and thus Kurtzman, being reverted a controlling interest over Star Trek merchandising in its entirety, something Abrams failed to achieve. Considering Abrams' substantially revved-up ambitions with his 2019 Warner deal, a potentially undesirable outcome in both cases from his point-of-view.

Still, exemplary of how confusing and murky Hollywood dealings are, is the circumstance that Bad Robot is still very much involved in the production of the seventh Mission: Impossible film franchise installment[2], slated for a 2021 release by Paramount, [27] its temporary production suspension due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding.

Bad Robot conglomerate Edit

Incorporated on 18 September 2006 and at that time operating from Los Angeles before moving to Santa Monica ten years later [28] [29], the company became one of the more successful Hollywood production companies, which was reflected by the circumstance that many of its operations and activities were in the intervening years spun off into a myriad of separate independent subsidiaries and/or sister companies, quickly evolving into a multi-media conglomerate. The subsidiaries incorporated in 2006 came about because of the development deal Abrams struck with Paramount and Warner Bros. The ones incorporated in 2009 on the other hand, were established in order to cover legalities surrounding the production of the 2009 Star Trek film and its follow-ups, and which gave Bad Robot henceforth a considerable stake – and thus a revenue stream – in the alternate reality Star Trek film franchise as a whole, especially where its consumer merchandise, including the home media formats, were concerned.

As of 2019 the Bad Robot conglomerate encompasses (incorporation dates in parentheses):

  • Bad Robot Audio, Inc. (10 October 2013 [30])
  • Bad Robot Films, Inc. (18 July 2006 [31]); One of the two original conglomerate cornerstone companies, two months later subordinated to Bad Robot Productions, Inc.
  • Bad Robot Games, LLC (2 May 2018 [32]); Producer computer games, spun off from Bad Robot Interactive, specifically for those from the Star Wars franchise.
  • Bad Robot Interactive, LLC (27 January 2009 [33]); The co-producer/licensor of Star Trek computer games based on the alternate reality films.
  • Bad Robot IP, LLC (15 March 2007 [34]); Titular, legal and administrative holding company of several subsidiaries not directly linked to the motion picture industry production-wise.
  • Bad Robot Music & Video, LLC (19 July 2006 [35]); The co-producer/licensor of Bad Robot motion picture production home media format derivatives, including those of the Star Trek alternate reality films. It was this subsidiary that became (co-)implicated in the furor following the second "VAM controversy" resulting from the various 2013 Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray releases, which employed the by fans particularly loathed "retailer exclusive" format in a far more abundant manner than was hitherto commonplace for the franchise. It has resulted in the one year later Star Trek: The Compendium "mea culpa" release.
  • Bad Robot Optical, Inc. (7 August 2009 [36]); The original visual effects (VFX) subsidiary, and credited as such for Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011); superseded by Kelvin Optical, Inc.
  • Bad Robot Press, LLC (12 June 2009 [37]); The co-licensor of Bad Robot motion picture production print material derivatives, including those of the Star Trek alternate reality films.
  • Bad Robot Radio, Inc. (10 October 2013 [38])
  • Bad Robot Reels, Inc. (16 July 2016 [39])
  • Bad Robot Television, Inc. (18 July 2006 [40]); One of the two original conglomerate cornerstone companies, two months later subordinated to Bad Robot Productions, Inc.
  • Bad Robot Toys, LLC (18 May 2009 [41]; The co-licensor of Bad Robot motion picture production toy merchandise derivatives, including those of the Star Trek alternate reality films.
  • Good Robot (16 July 2019 [42]); Bad Robot's charity organization.
Kelvin Optical logo
  • Kelvin Optical, Inc. (3 August 2012 [43]); VFX production company named after the USS Kelvin's namesake(s), co-credited for the VFX work on both Into Darkness and Beyond. Successor to Bad Robot Optical, Inc. While the company has done some pre-visualisation (which did not show up on screen) and graphics CGI work for both productions, their main responsibility entailed the coordination of the VFX work done by the other VFX companies – hence the "Intermediate" moniker carried in the titles of senior staffers Juan Ignacio Cabrera, Erin M. Davis and Peter Amies.
  • Live Robot (Autumn 2018, incorporation pending [44]); Live event company
  • Loud Robot (Spring 2019, incorporation pending [45]); Non-motion picture music recording company
  • Sisyphus Productions, Inc. (11 March 1991 [46]); J.J. Abrams' now defunct, but still registered original personal production company, superseded by the two July 2006 ones.
  • Sneaky Suspicions, Inc. (28 November 2017 [47])

Staff Edit

Note: J.J. Abrams is Owner/Chairman/Chief Executive Officer/Member of the Board of the entire Bad Robot conglomerate, but is aided for the day-to-day operations by lifelong confederate Randy O'Connor, who serves alongside Abrams as president on most of the holdings, including Bad Robot Productions itself.

Footnotes Edit

  1. Abrams had solid reasons for his chagrin. For example, toy company Playmates Toys, a longstanding franchise partner, had a line-up of alternate reality-based toys series planned, typically released in what they had coined "waves". But after disappointing sales of its 2009 Wave 1, they unceremoniously cancelled all subsequent waves, [1] apparently withdrawing from its three-decades old partnership with Star Trek altogether, as no new Star Trek products were released afterwards. Hasbro, another longtime franchise partner, has followed suit in similar vein. Staunch franchise partner Diamond Select Toys had declined to become part of the alternate reality from the outset – likewise doing so for Kurtzman-era Star Trek later on, incidentally. [2] Similarly, Star Trek model kit company Polar Lights had a model kit of the USS Enterprise lined up for a 2010 release, also cancelled without much further ado two years later; no officially licensed alternate reality model kits have seen the day of light in America – even though a single one has in Europe only – nor are any considered as of 2020. It were these companies who, as third-party investors, dropped out en masse, which became an additional reason to cancel Star Trek 4. The only area in which alternate reality merchandise enjoyed some, yet limited, measure of success was that of the adult replica collector market, a small and very specific non-mass market niche where accuracy of the products is prized above all else, such as the starship models from Eaglemoss Collections. (The Toys That Made Us)

    However, there was an additional factor in play for the merchandise sales not coming to fruition, unrelated to the discontent of the traditional fanbase who continued to prefer buying merchandise based on the likenesses of prime universe Star Trek: Consumers born and raised in the digital age increasingly place less and less value on the physical ownership of merchandise, a societal trend vastly underestimated, or not even recognized, by any pre-digital era franchise management, who have continued to strategize on previous, but now outdated, experiences, and particularly noticeable in the dwindling sales of the physical DVD and Blu-ray Disc home video formats [3]and in which Bad Robot through Bad Robot Music & Video, LLC had also a considerable stake, not only in those from the Star Trek franchise, but those of the Star Wars franchise as well. An issue of note for not only Star Trek (also explaining the limited interest of merchandise companies in the subsequent Kurtzman-era Star Trek [4], and the resultant disappointing sales, this time around hurting the entire franchise [5] [6] [7]), it was especially pertinent for the Star Wars franchise (which was on top of that also plagued by a violent fan backlash in the wake of the 2017 film The Last Jedi, resulting in its traditional fanbase shunning the merchandise based on the productions of the 2010s – in which Bad Robot through Bad Robot Toys, LLC had a major stake as well), where its toy sales, traditionally the second-most important pillar for that franchise, have all but collapsed. [8] [9] [10]

  2. 2.0 2.1 There is another, second reason conceivable for Bad Robot losing its Star Trek film deal; film licenses for ongoing franchises of the kind extended to Bad Robot usually includes a timetable clause in which a franchise-licensed production company is obligated to produce sequential franchise film outings within a preordained time-frame. When defaulting on the clause, it being the case with Star Trek 4 due to Bad Robot's withdrawal from the project in November 2018, the film production rights then automatically reverts to the licensor, i.e. ViacomCBS. [11] It concurrently explains why Bad Robot is still very much involved with the Mission: Impossible film franchise, as a new installment has in the meantime gone into production.

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