Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha
Real world article
(written from a Production point of view)
Paramount Pictures logo

Paramount's current logo

The Paramount Pictures Corporation, or simply Paramount Pictures, is the film production and distribution company that currently holds the license to produce the Star Trek feature films, and had formerly controlled the rights in full to not only the Star Trek movie franchise, but that of the television franchise as well until 2006. Paramount is currently owned by the media conglomerate Paramount Global which is, in turn, controlled by National Amusements.

Jim Gianopulos, a veteran of the entertainment industry, is the current CEO and chairman. He succeeded the late Brad Grey, who held the position for twelve years between 2005 and 2017. It had been Grey's stated intention to reestablish Paramount as a leading media company by being willing to take risks and lure creative talent to the company. As part of this initiative, he lured Gail Berman, one of the original producers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, into the corporate offices to take on the role of President. (citation needededit)

Beginning in 1931, Paramount Pictures owned and operated the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California where it held many premieres for its films. Since 1986, the theater has been owned and operated as a non-profit organization by the city.

Paramount produced and distributed all Star Trek productions from 1967 (Star Trek: The Original Series) through 2005 (Star Trek: Enterprise) where the television shows were concerned, and from 1979 (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) through 2016 (Star Trek Beyond) in regard to the feature movies. Through purchase the studio also owned the Original Series' first season and its two preceding pilot episodes, whereas it had also licensed the production Star Trek: The Animated Series to Filmation in 1973, though retaining ownership.

History with Star Trek[]

Paramount formally acquired the Star Trek franchise on 27 July 1967 when Lucille Ball's Desilu Studios, the company that produced TOS (as it was later dubbed, but then still officially known as simply Star Trek), was purchased for seventeen million dollars by Gulf+Western, Paramount's then owner.

Paramount Pictures had previously operated its own rather insignificant television production department and Desilu was incorporated into it to form Paramount Television, placing the Star Trek television series under its aegis. As a result of Gulf+Western's purchase of Desilu, it also acquired three other Desilu television shows that were in production at the time. Mission: Impossible, Mannix, and The Lucy Show were considered hugely successful at that time and were the prime motivations for the purchase of Desilu. Star Trek and its middling television ratings were essentially thrown into the deal as an afterthought.

The company came under the ownership of the original Viacom conglomerate, when that company took over the remnants of Gulf+Western in 1994.

Acquiring The Original Series[]

Viewed as a commercial disappointment at the time, Gulf+Western initially wanted to exclude Star Trek from its purchase of Desilu. Desilu executive Herb Solow later stated, "Paramount didn't want Star Trek, because it was losing too much money each week and didn't have enough episodes to syndicate successfully. That was a wise business decision at the time." Nonetheless, Lucille Ball insisted on selling her company as an intact entity – excepting her own hugely popular Here's Lucy show – which forced a reluctant Paramount to also accept the legal and financial liabilities for the unwanted property. (NBC: America's Network, p. 218)

One week after the acquisition and alarmed by his financial audits, Gulf+Western founder, co-owner, president, and driving force behind the acquisition, Charles Bluhdorn, called one of Desilu's former negotiators named Ed Holly, utterly aghast. Holly recalled, "Just a week or so after the merger, when Bluhdorn had started seeing the cost figures, he called me in the middle of the night. All I heard was 'What did you sell me? I'm going to the poorhouse!' I said, 'Charlie, you must be looking at Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. Those shows are costing almost to the dollar what our projections showed they would cost. You and your people made the judgment that that was all right." (Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, 1994, pp. 297-298)

Although he had been known as a formidable business tycoon, Bluhdorn's exchange with Holly betrayed that he and his financial subordinates did not have a thorough understanding of the motion picture and television business. Bluhdorn had only become a "Hollywood Mogul" less than a year earlier when he had bought Paramount Pictures on 19 October 1966 and was not, in the least, reassured by Holly's assurances. Bluhdorn decided to visit the set of Star Trek in person to witness a day of production for himself and found it to be an underwhelming experience. What he saw on that day made him highly skeptical but, even though it was his prerogative as the temporary chairman of the board of Paramount Pictures, he stopped short of actually ordaining the series' cancellation. [1]

Instead, Bluhdorn had a small army of Paramount and NBC financial executives and accountants descend on Star Trek to go through the finances of the production with a fine tooth comb. Inevitably, this resulted in more severe budget cuts and creative meddling from these businessmen.

This interference eventually turned out to be the impetus for the subsequent departure of the driving forces behind the series which included Solow, Gene Roddenberry, and, eventually, Robert H. Justman. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, pp. 360-et al.) These defections only served to reinforce the decision to cancel Star Trek as soon as possible but fan letter-writing campaigns convinced NBC to renew the series twice.

Despite NBC's and Gulf+Western's financial experts' grave concerns about Star Trek's high production costs, the final decision to cancel the show was not made by television network NBC until the end of the series' third season, reportedly leaving the entire production at US$4.7 million in debt. (Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry, p. 399)

Due to its original contractual obligations, net profits (non-existent at the time) were to be shared between the studio (26⅔%), Roddenberry's production company Norway Corporation (26⅔%), performer William Shatner (20%), and NBC (26⅔%). Due to its losses, Paramount offered Roddenberry the opportunity to obtain the Star Trek property for US$100,000-$150,000 in 1970. However, Roddenberry was unable to raise this sum on his own so the ownership of the property remained with Paramount.

This turned out to be extremely fortuitous for the studio, and as Solow put it, "History would show that Gulf & Western's purchase of Star Trek alone, the low-rated, money-losing second-year series on NBC, would become one of the most spectacular business moves in entertainment history." (NBC: America's Network, p. 220)

Syndicating The Original Series and resurgence[]

Earliest known trade journal Star Trek studio syndication advertisements
Star Trek syndication advertisment Star Trek syndication advertisment1
Broadcasting, 24 March 1969
Broadcasting, 4 August 1969
Star Trek syndication advertisment2 Star Trek syndication advertisment3
Broadcasting, 2 February 1970
Broadcasting, 16 February 1970

Yet, very shortly after the studio had made Roddenberry the offer, Paramount found that its hot potato was quickly turning into a hot property due to its huge and unexpected success in syndication in the early 1970s. In effect, the very first time Paramount sold syndication rights was already in 1969 while the third season was still being aired in its original run on NBC. The buyer, Kaiser Broadcasting (which operated a small chain of local television stations along the West and East Coast), immediately started to broadcast Star Trek after NBC had canceled the series on a daily basis and, much to their delight, observed a steep rise in viewership and ratings, the latter identified in Star Trek lore as the reason why the Original Series was canceled by NBC in the first place. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, pp. 417-418) The phenomenon was not lost on other local television stations, and thus the spectacular resurgence of Star Trek in syndication started. It was around that time that Paramount discovered that Roddenberry was selling Star Trek merchandise through Lincoln Enterprises, which was formally an illegal endeavor, as he simply did not own the brand. Yet, both parties struck a deal, which allowed Roddenberry to continue in return of a percentage of the sales, as Paramount also started to realize that their Star Trek property was not a bad one to have after all. Not yet having a well oiled Star Trek marketing machine of their own, Lincoln Enterprises suited the needs of the studio well in raising the awareness of their increasingly profitable Star Trek brand. By early 1987, when a new television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, went into pre-production, Variety magazine of 2 December 1991 was able to report that the Original Series had by then netted the studio already over US$1 million dollar per episode in domestic syndication fees alone, thus excluding the by then substantial sales revenues abroad, as well as those stemming from home media format, and affiliated merchandise sales. Considering the average production cost of US$190,000 per episode, this turned out to be a more than healthy return on investment, especially since Paramount had not borne the costs of the normally most expensive first season of a production that was essentially thrown into the deal. Any Desilu book losses in regard to the Star Trek production would have been accounted for in the purchase price paid by Paramount. Susan Sackett, Roddenberry's personal assistant, had dryly noted that it was NBC which had borne most (but not all) of the production costs (also explaining why there had been NBC financial experts present in the first place at the due diligence audit back in 1967), not Paramount. (Starlog, issue 43, p. 14)

Now a less pleasant side of doing business in Hollywood came to the fore in full force, as it became concurrently known that the studio had shortchanged at least one of its other stakeholders, Roddenberry, who was still legally entitled a full one third of the net profits (in exchange for surrendering any and all other legal title to the series, save for his "Created By" credit, according to James Van Hise). Roddenberry was by 1981 perpetually led to believe by the studio that the Original Series was still deeply in the red by as much as US$1 million – or US$500,000 by 1982, again according to Van Hise (The Man Who Created Star Trek: Gene Roddenberry, p. 58) – as supposedly "proven" by doctored account statements handed over to him. Roddenberry instructed his attorney, Leonard Maizlish, to start legal proceedings in order to be given access to Paramount's records, seemingly to no avail initially. "The greatest science fiction in show biz is in the accounting", Roddenberry declared chagrined, referring to the infamous "Hollywood accounting" industry phenomenon. (Starlog, issue 43, p. 14) Roddenberry had reasons to be suspicious, as it seemed unlikely that the by 1987 reported net syndication profit of US$78 million dollar was only realized in the intervening six years. While it was at the time unknown what the outcome of the legal proceedings would be, it should be noted that it was around this time that Roddenberry entered into his below-mentioned financially advantageous movie deal with the studio. It was conceivable that Roddenberry and the studio settled their Original Series accounts on that occasion, as Roddenberry became a wealthy man from then on. That this was indeed the case came to light in 1994 when it was revealed that the studio disbursed US$5.3 million in profit distribution to Roddenberry between June 1984 and July 1987. [6]

Launching the Star Trek movie franchise[]

As if to underscore Roddenberry's suspicions, former Original Series writer D.C. Fontana was already able to report in the fanzine Star-Borne of 22 June 1972 that, "Paramount… [is] enormously impressed by the quantity (and quality) of fan mail they continue to receive. The possibility seems to be slowly developing of a Star Trek feature movie for theatrical release, aimed at becoming the new Star Trek television pilot… on the network front, NBC still expresses great interest in doing Star Trek in some form. Both NBC and Paramount continue to receive a great deal of mail and have had to assign secretaries for the sole job of answering it." [7] NBC's complete turnaround not only stemmed from the spectacular resurgence of the Original Series in syndication, but also from its own accounting department. Shortly before Fontana's report, NBC had replaced its old Nielsen rating system, purportedly the results from which having been the primary reason for the cancellation of the series, with a new and updated one. When they ran the original Original Series figures through their new system they found out much to their surprise that it had not only reached full penetration into their most coveted target audience, the male population between 18 and 45, but also that the series had been one of the most successful series the network had ever aired. The sickening realization hit upon the dismayed network executives that they had slaughtered the goose that laid the golden eggs, something that every Star Trek fan at the time could have told them. Hurriedly approaching Roddenberry to see if the series could be revitalized, it turned out to be unfeasible, as Paramount had only a few months earlier cleared out their warehouses from the vast majority of the remaining Star Trek production assets, those either having been scrapped, given away, or simply stolen. Recreating them, calculated at US$750,000, was deemed far too cost prohibitive. It did however, lead to NBC ordering the creation of Star Trek: The Animated Series. (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, pp. 51-52)

And indeed, the phenomenon was not lost on Bluhdorn himself, as he had by 1974 completely reversed his stance from the one he had back in 1967, and had by now become enamored with Star Trek due to its huge and unexpected success in syndication – and the recent addition of the Animated Series, which, while not produced by the studio, was legally Paramount property nevertheless, adding an additional Star Trek revenue stream – embracing the property as something of a pet project. It was therefore, after he had been presented by a subordinate, Paramount's then chief financial officer Arthur Barron, with the idea of turning Star Trek into a movie, that he gave Barry Diller, freshly appointed in October 1974 as the new studio head, as one of his consignments, to turn the idea into a project. Not particularly interested in doing Star Trek in any format whatsoever, but, by any standard, a formidable executive himself, Diller nevertheless did not want to repeat the mistake his immediate predecessor Frank Yablans made by antagonizing his new boss and his newfound infatuation with Star Trek and set to work. (The Keys to the Kingdom, Chapter 5)

As it turned out, Roddenberry had already approached the studio with a pitch for a Star Trek movie one year previously. Then Paramount President, Frank Yablans, was very interested, but due to Roddenberry's obtuseness at the negotiation table, the proposition fell through. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, pp 420-421) Despite the failure of the negotiations, Yablans' interest in producing high-tech science fiction was piqued nevertheless and to this end he facilitated and arranged the funding for the establishment of two Paramount visual effects subsidiaries, Douglas Trumbull's Future General Corporation (FGC) and Carey Melcher's Magicam, Inc, a very short time thereafter. [8] Unfortunately, his immediate successors, Barry Diller and Michael Eisner, had zero affinity with science fiction and none whatsoever with visual effects in particular, and tried to shut down FGC immediately upon their ascent, which came back to haunt the production later on. [9](X) Yablans however, had failed to inform his boss of Roddenberry's prior overtures, and Bluhdorn perceived this as part of Yablans' overall lack of respect for him, which shortly thereafter led to his downfall. Barron, incidentally, had approached Bluhdorn on his own accord. (The Keys to the Kingdom, Chapter 5)

Still, getting Star Trek off the ground again as a new live action production turned out to be not as straightforward as it originally sounded, and for three years the project stubbornly refused to come into fruition. However, when Diller thought up a fourth television network for the company, Paramount Television Services, officially announced on 10 June 1977, he intended Star Trek to serve as its flagship as a new television series, Star Trek: Phase II (or Star Trek II as its official title was to be). Fully endorsed by Bluhdorn, who sensed an even more profitable repeat performance of the property, [2] actual production of a new live-action production was finally started the same month. His initial enthusiasm notwithstanding, Bluhdorn soon found out that America was not yet ready for a fourth television network, informed as such by then Vice President of Research Mel Harris, as advertiser's interest did not materialize and he already pulled the plug on the network project near the end of July. Still, he allowed the production of Star Trek to continue, which was, aside from his own personal interest, in no small part due to the desire not to lose development costs already sunk in all previous revitalization attempts. Star Trek: Phase II eventually morphed into Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which was officially announced by the studio on 28 March 1978 to the public at Paramount Pictures in the largest press conference held since Cecil B. DeMille's announcement of his 1923 silent movie, The Ten Commandments. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, pp. 50-51).

Even set initially at an (in hindsight) unrealistic original budget of US$15 million dollar, Paramount took a huge gamble with The Motion Picture as it was the most complex, ambitious, and expensive movie project the studio had ever embarked upon in its history, Cecil B. DeMille's (inflation adjusted) 1956 remake of his own 1923 silent movie classic The Ten Commandments being the sole exception. Having only just recently reversed the fortunes of the studio, after nearly a two decades long slump, all the studio's biggest box office successes of the mid-1970s, John Travolta's Saturday Night Fever and Grease and Mario Puzo's The Godfather, were in comparison "low-budget" productions, none of them exceeding a production budget of US$6 million dollar (the substantial profits made from these were mainly used as debt relief and repairing the financial position of the studio). Only in the mid-to-late 1980s did production budgets start to habitually balloon exponentially, first in double digits, and subsequently into the triple digits.

Partly due to the studio's hitherto utter lack of experience with a technically complex and visual effects heavy productions of this magnitude, the production of The Motion Picture proved to be exceptionally difficult, troublesome, frustrating, and, for those times, extremely costly, the latter in no small part due to the studio's own mismanagement of the visual effects production. "We didn't know what these things were, Bob Wise [remark: the movie's director] was a lovely man, but he didn't know, either," Diller conceded, though only much later. (The Keys to the Kingdom, 2000, Chapter 6) Running massively over budget as a result, Diller and his executive subordinates (close to nervous exhaustion) were bracing themselves for a financial disaster, which fortunately for them did not materialize. Immensely relieved of having dodged the financial bullet, Diller and his colleagues counted their blessings and were fully prepared to move on, entirely willing to leave Star Trek behind them. Yet, Bluhdorn was of different mind and ordered the development of sequels shortly after the premiere of The Motion Picture in early 1980. Bluhdorn personally selected Harve Bennett who would head, as executive producer, the production of the subsequent four Star Trek films, of which two, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, became particularly successful.

For all intents and purposes, it was therefore Bluhdorn, who was responsible for the creation of the Star Trek movie franchise. (The Keys to the Kingdom, Chapters 5-7) For a more detailed treatise on the difficult birth of the movie franchise, please see Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Production.

Gene Roddenberry, however, indeed responsible for some (but not all) production troubles, was increasingly perceived by the studio as very difficult to work with and was essentially removed by them from creative control over the movie halfway through the production. Actually, Diller had already removed him once entirely from one of the previous revitalization attempts, Star Trek: Planet of the Titans. While the studio, as far as they were concerned, had seen the very last of Roddenberry, the realization also sank in that by now, no Star Trek incarnation could ever be produced without the Roddenberry name attached to it while he was still alive due to his by now firmly established stature in the general populace's awareness as the creator of Star Trek, strongly backed up by a small, but highly vocal hardcore of the more puritanical Trekkies. Adhering to the old adagio "keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer", the studio came up with a crafty solution to the conundrum; Roddenberry was "bumped upstairs", given his own office at the studio with a handsome remuneration, and given the formal title of "Executive Consultant", which meant that directors and creative staff could ask for his opinion on the project, though with the proviso that his advice was not needed to be taken. Required by the agreement to be kept in the loop, but lost in the studio's equivalent of the "Bermuda Triangle", no one ever thereafter heeded Roddenberry's copious, but unsolicited, advice for the subsequent five movies, nor did anyone even bother to consult with him. Though for the studio perhaps a costly solution, it was far cheaper than to be bogged down by incessant lawsuits, which were sure to follow given Roddenberry's character, and dealing with the fallout from the Star Trek fan base, which was equally sure to follow, and the resulting negative publicity. Still, this did not prevent Roddenberry in the slightest from relentlessly harassing studio and production staff alike, on occasion even going as far as threatening with legal actions as Actor/Director William Shatner and Director Nicholas Meyer could attest to. The latter was bluff however, as the stipulations of his studio contract simply did not allow for them, and no legal proceedings ever materialized during this period in time. (William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge; From Sawdust to Stardust, pp. 240-241; Star Trek Movie Memories, pp. 99, et al.)

While acknowledging this state of affairs as "speculation", an opposing view was proffered by authors Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, who have claimed in their reference book Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission (p. 3) that, "(t)he real reason for Paramount's concern about keeping Roddenberry tied to each Star Trek film was that every executive involved with the productions shared the maddening knowledge that no one had the slightest idea why Star Trek was a success… except Gene Roddenberry. Without his input, there was always the chance that the next movie wouldn't capture whatever it was that made Star Trek so enticing." While staunch Roddenberry supporters Reeves-Stevens' did have a point where the studio executives themselves were concerned, their assertion was certainly contradicted by the directors, producers and screenwriters (most notably Spock Performer/Writer/Director Leonard Nimoy, who most definitely had a thorough understanding of what made Star Trek "tick", arguably even more so than Roddenberry himself did) of the subsequent five movies, all of them, save Shatner's Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, highly successful and produced without any creative input from Roddenberry whatsoever, and each of them actually opposed by him in varying degrees of vehemence. Roddenberry being put out to pasture, it effectively was the Nimoy-Bennett-Meyer triumvirate that became the keeper of the Star Trek films flame in the decade following The Motion Picture. (Cinefantastique, Vol 22 #5, pp. 39-42)

Creating an overall Star Trek franchise []

Until 1979, and reflecting the studio's general attitude towards Star Trek, merchandising and licensing Star Trek remained a rather passive and haphazard affair; interested parties had to approach the Paramount Publicity Department with proposals, which the department's involvement somewhat limited to either agreeing to them or not, and drawing up contracts. Having had personal dealings with the department, author Stephen Edward Poe has commented in later years, "Desilu [and its successor] treated the whole idea of Star Trek licensing and merchandising with immense disdain. It was as if studio executives felt greatly annoyed at having to even discuss the subject at all (…) – some sort of corporate aberration – and licensed merchandise emerged only slowly and with, apparently, great reluctance." (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, pp. 45-46)


Star Trek The Motion Picture beverage containers by Coca-Cola Klingon endoring Happy Meals in 1980 McDonalds commercial CBS Consumer Products Global License cover
Paramount's first food products tie-in promotion; Coca-Cola beverage containers on the left, and a still from a McDonald's commercial on the right.
Star Trek Into Darkness on the cover of License! Global magazine

Yet, for all the troubles The Motion Picture represented for the studio as far as the production itself was concerned, it also represented the birth of the modern moneymaking property the studio was to eventually refer to as "The Franchise". Responsible for this was Vice-President of Marketing and Licensing, Dawn Steel, who was charged with coming up with an additional revenue stream after the February 1979 visual effects crisis, which had left the Motion Picture production in a critical situation, as there was no more money left to complete the movie. She did so by organizing a vigorous merchandising and licensing fund drive, which climaxed in a highly imaginative presentation, held in the largest theater on the Paramount lot. A resounding success, [3] the presentation was met with rambunctious enthusiasm by the attending prospective licensee companies. "It was the most unbelievable party Paramount ever had", attending studio producer, Brian Grazer, remembered, to which then novice studio producer Jerry Bruckheimer has admiringly added, "She went to conventions and got every toy-maker, anyone who made T-shirts and key chains and raised every nickel she could. She shook the trees. There hasn't been that energy vortex in merchandise since she left.". Numerous companies signed up, including for the times unusual ones, such as food industry corporations like Coca-Cola and McDonald's. The presentation marked the first time for Paramount that licensing revenues were generated before a production had premiered. The successful fund drive made Steel's name in the motion picture industry, and a thoroughly impressed Paramount CEO Michael Eisner, who was (in)famous for not being easily impressed, promoted her the next day to vice-president of productions in features, getting her off to a stellar industry career. She had been working in the licensing department for less than six months. (New York Magazine, 29 May 1989, p. 45; 6 September 1993, p. 40; Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History, pp. 108-109)

Hollywood studios had, and to this day, have obviously been exceptionally loath to divulge particulars surrounding their revenue streams stemming from licensing and merchandising efforts, Star Trek not excepted. However, Steel, due to the unexpected and exceptional success of her 1979 fund drive, had understandably been somewhat more loose-lipped, unable to resist some bragging at the time. Revealing in January 1980 that General Mills featured Star Trek artwork on 37 million of their cereal boxes, McDonald's had spent US$20 million dollar on TV adds to promote fifty million Star Trek themed Happy Meals, and Bally had by that time already totaled up a sale of US$19.5 million of US$1.795 apiece Star Trek themed pinball machines, alone, she divulged that by that time she expected that at the most conservative estimations, licensed Star Trek related merchandise would at least amount to US$250 million, with the possibility of reaching double that. "Licensed children's merchandise is the last category to suffer in a recession: Dad will give up his suits, but his kids will still get toys and clothes", she clarified, adding, "Our fee ranges from one to eleven percent, depending on the product." This statement indicated that the studio was to receive at the very least US$2.5 million, or at the very most US$55 million in licensing and merchandising revenues, though it was unlikely that the upper estimate was ever met due to the mixed reception of the movie and the somewhat disappointing sales of related merchandise. (Playboy magazine, January 1980, p. 310)

Print material franchise[]

The Motion Picture novelization Star Trek Speaks
The first, 1979, franchise book publications; the novel on the left and the reference book on the right

Concurrently, parent company Gulf+Western, through Bluhdorn, had commissioned the development of an accompanying, The Motion Picture-themed, book line through subsidiary Pocket Books and its imprints, which it had acquired in 1975 (and therefore a sister company of Paramount Pictures), and from here on end merchandising and licensing became an integral part of a proactive overall marketing strategy (considerably hammered out by Frank Mancuso, Sr., who was appointed as the department's president after Steel had left), in the creation of a sustained Star Trek product line. [10] In doing so, the franchise rescinded the license for Star Trek book titles other publishers held up until that point in time, Ballantine Books having been been the most notable one.

For over two-and-a-half decades Pocket Books was the only publisher of official Star Trek-related book titles, specifically novels, reference works, and calendars, the latter having also been the purview of Ballantine Books before 1979. Other print materials, most notably comics, were licensed out to other publishers.

For obvious, commercial reasons, the franchise requires licensed writers to write their real-world production reference works and articles for licensed magazines in an upbeat, somewhat celebratory and slightly promotional manner, and to shy away from any and all critical notes, on the franchise itself in particular, essentially exercising censorship. It was for this reasons that Pocket Books declined publishing the book Return to Tomorrow - The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture for example (in which the dubious role of Paramount itself was highlighted, especially in regard to VFX company Robert Abel & Associates), its then chief editor deeming the copy too "non-puffery" [4] to the franchise's taste. [11] Nevertheless, aside from actual illegal publications, the franchise was unable to curtail the prolific publications of, often more critical, unlicensed (therefore not rarely deemed "illegal" and/or undesirable from the franchise's point-of-view) but legal reference works – those of Schuster & Schuster and (auto)biographies in particular, and eventually including Return to Tomorrow as well – , or any article written by journalists for otherwise unaffiliated magazines for that matter, as these were published making the fullest use of the "works of journalistic/academic nature" exemption clauses in copyright laws, though this meant these publications could not legally feature any Star Trek copyrighted imagery. As of 2002, the franchise has opted not to publish reference works – both in-universe as well as real-world – themselves anymore, but rather to license them out to mostly non-affiliated publishers.

As far as specialized Star Trek magazines were concerned, the franchise has until recently opted to farm out licenses to outside publishers. The very first such known publisher was Starlog Press, acquiring the license to carry the denomination "official" in the title of their "upbeat" 1980s-1990s spin-off official movie magazine series, from the 1982 Wrath of Khan magazine onward. Starlog was chosen as its magazine source publication (over which the franchise had no editorial control due to the "works of journalistic nature" exemption clause) founding editors were unadulterated "Trekkies", profusely reporting on Star Trek, even though interviews were featured with former Star Trek performers and production staffers – predominantly from the Original Series and The Motion Picture-era – who, on occasion, vented opinions, the franchise had preferred not to see in print, much of which actually turning up as edited copy in the Schuster & Schuster publications. Nevertheless, aside from the movie specials, it netted Starlog Press the right to publish the recurrent, subsequent "official" The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager magazine series from which any and all critical observations were omitted. There was however, a definite upside of having been able to carry the "official" moniker in title of the spin-off publications; in return of surrendering some of its editorial freedoms as well as magazine revenues, Starlog writers and journalists were given uninhibited access to the sound stages, performers, production staffers, and studio archives – therefore becoming notable for the publication's reproduction of production material, rarely seen afterwards – enabling these publications to report on the inside story of any Star Trek production in detail first, at a time when Star Trek frenzy was rapidly reaching a peak.

Pursuant to the 1982 Starlog Press license, the franchise has considerably tightened its (editorial) grip on magazine publications it has licensed to carry the moniker "official" in their (sub-)titles. These included, most notably, Star Trek: Communicator (from 1995 onward and being the original 1979 "official" fanclub magazine), Star Trek Magazine (partially absorbing the function Communicator had upon its default in 2005), and Star Trek: The Magazine, the US off-shoot of the equally "official" Star Trek Fact Files and its international variants. The latter, which ran from 1999 till 2003, was presented as a higher-quality (attempting to come across as less fan club like and less heavy on merchandise peddling), glossy, lifestyle like magazine, though a five percent page count in each issue served as an impromptu franchise message board as well as merchandise product placements, disguised as articles, whereas an additional ten percent still consisted of actual merchandise advertisements. A more recent "official" release in this regard is the British Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection partwork publication and its derivatives, like Starlog and The Magazine before them lacking any and all critical observations.

In 2002, the print franchise took it up a notch when it reconsidered the status of reference works written from an in-universe point of view. Henceforth only the Star Trek Chronology, the Star Trek Encyclopedia, and the 1991 Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual (all of which co-written by Mike Okuda) were considered by the franchise as the sole primary reference sources for all subsequent in-universe reference works; as such these three works were in essence elevated to the status of "quasi-canon". Licensed works of this kind released afterwards by outside publishers after Pocket Books was removed from the franchise mix around 2008 – such as the later GE Fabbri (publisher of Fact Files), Haynes Publishing, and Eaglemoss Collections (publisher of The Official Starships Collection) Star Trek publications – are required to be in concordance with the information contained within these three works, with the Okuda author couple not rarely assigned to these later publications as "technical consultants" to ensure compliance. As a consequence, all previously fully licensed/endorsed/authorized in-universe reference works were no longer considered official references – including such fan favorites as, most notably, Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual as well as Shane Johnson's Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise and Worlds of the Federation. Labeled "unofficial", these works were de facto debunked and demoted by the franchise to the apocryphal status of novels, comics, non-production art (such as Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendars), and (computer) games. It is in this respect that "official", when used in a title, has gained an additional meaning, as it presently also signifies a work in compliance with canon, besides being a licensed work. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 11, p. 71)

Home video format franchise[]

TOS Television Classics Vol 1 VHS TMP Beta
Two of the six earliest known official home video format Star Trek releases, the VHS version of Volume 1 of The Original Series on the left, and the Betamax version of The Motion Picture on the right.

An important cornerstone for the overall franchise became the home video formats franchise. In 1971 Paramount Pictures partnered up with industry competitor Universal Studios when they, as equal partners, established Cinema International Corporation (CIC) in 1971 (as of 1981: United International Pictures – UIP – ) as a joint venture, and responsible for the distribution of feature films outside the US, which included all of the later Star Trek films. This action was necessitated partly for cost-cutting reasons, partly for antitrust rules, specifically aimed to break the hold individual studios hitherto had on the entirety of the industry, otherwise known as the traditional "Hollywood Studio System" (see also Desilu Studios in this regard).

With the advent of the VHS and Betamax video tape home video formats, a subsidiary division, CIC Video, was established two years later, responsible for the distribution of this home video format – due to the very high retail prices, predominantly through the rental outlet circuit initially – including all the Star Trek productions released in this format. It was again The Motion Picture that turned out to be the primary agent for Star Trek to make its entrance in the home media market as currently understood (meaning visual formats – there had been a few audio only formats previously, such as the 1976 Inside Star Trek LP). While it was a foregone conclusion that the film itself was to be released on the new videotape formats, Paramount Home Video (established in 1976, later known as Paramount Home Entertainment) also made use of the opportunity to release ten selected episodes of The Original Series, in five volumes of two episodes each, as part of their "Television Classics" collection in the United States as appetizers for the later in October released movie tapes, priced at US$79.95 at the time of their release. [12] Released in early 1980, these five titles are as such, together with the later released movie tapes, the earliest known Star Trek home video format releases, where there had been none previously, that is, officially at least. [5] Having the year previously hammered out a deal with photo developer/video rental outlet Fotomat Video, one of the very first such rental companies, it were these tapes that were the first Star Trek titles to turn up in the rental circuit from mid-to-late 1980 onward. [13]

Ironically, it was not CIC Video that became responsible for the distribution of the first known Star Trek home video format title outside the US/Canada, but rather the obscure British distributor Mountain Video, when it, possibly unlicensed, released in the same year the one episode only tape of "Shore Leave" – not included on any of the five original releases in the US – in both tape variants on the UK market, [14] though, again for the high retail price, the majority of them ended up in the rental circuit. From the mid-1980s onward though, CIC Video took over the distribution, not only for the UK alone, but for the entirety of mainland Europe as well.

It was Paramount however, who revolutionized the way these home video formats were marketed. Responsible for this was the aforementioned Mel Harris, by now President of Paramount Home Video, who helped to create the home video sell-through market by convincing Paramount to sell low-priced videos directly to the public to persuade customers to purchase videos rather than simply renting them. At the time, videos for sale were priced at around US$60-$80 or more; Harris accurately predicted that decreasing the price would create a market for videocassette purchases. Actually, the video tapes for The Wrath of Khan were the first ones to be offered in 1982 for a sharply reduced price of US$39.95, unheard of at the time, and sending shock waves through industry and retail stores alike – though amusingly, Paramount again generated shock waves eight years later, when it offered tapes of the movie The Hunt for Red October for sale at US$99.99, incredibly high by that time. (The Encyclopedia of Television, Cable, and Video, 2012, p. 411) His policies helped immensely to make the by him later initiated Star Trek: The Next Generation a resounding success, aside from tapping into yet another revenue source for the Original Series and movies produced up until then.

CIC Video as a joint venture was dissolved in 1999 (corresponding with the demise of the video tape in favor of such later home video formats as the LaserDisc, VCD, DVD, and later still, the Blu-ray Disc) when Paramount reasserted full control over the release of their home video formats through their own division, Paramount Home Entertainment. Yet, after 2006 Paramount had to leave the home video format distribution of the television properties, most specifically the remastered versions of The Next Generation and Enterprise, to CBS Home Entertainment, as it no longer owns the franchise, though they are still entitled to do so for the movie properties – albeit in mandated conjuncture with CBS, the latter thereby asserting its ownership of the franchise. The theatrical distribution arm, UIP, is, as of 2016, still in operation and still equally shared by Paramount and Universal.

Yet, while it became one of the most important cornerstones of the overall franchise, it has also become in recent decades somewhat a bone of contention with fans and customers of home video formats alike, due to the franchise's predilection to release numerous versions of the productions, each somewhat different from the other, leaving "double-dipping" (term used by them for incessantly re-buying alternate versions) fans increasingly feeling alienated from, and "exploited" by the franchise, as evidenced by a myriad of angry customer reviews on or TrekCore. For example, the one episode per Betamax/VHS video tape format, as released from the mid-1980s through the early-2000s and adhered to for all Star Trek television series with the exception of Enterprise, has irked American customers to no end, especially since the format was, excepting a handful of early 1980s British tapes, not utilized in overseas markets, which were served with (at least) two episodes per tape releases. Something similar ensued with the very first Star Trek television series DVD releases, those of the Original Series; starting in August 1999, American customers were first offered the series on "bare-bone" two episodes per disc releases, shortly before season box sets – with, adding insult to injury, four episodes per disc and beefed out with special features – were made available to them. Overseas customers were on this occasion spared the double-dip format, as it were the season box sets that were offered them right from the bat, albeit at a later point in time. Incidentally, Enterprise was not released in the US on VHS but directly on DVD. However, this time around, Europeans were given the double-dip treatment, as they were first offered the series on VHS right before the DVD box set releases.

Though certainly not the only one – as Disney and Universal were among those who had solid reputations in this regard as well – it was Paramount in particular that became notorious for these kind of practices, and which were by all means not limited to Star Trek alone. While one of the very first, the Original Series has concurrently the dubious distinction of becoming one of the very few, if not only one, television series to be released on DVD in this manner, as all other Hollywood studios, conceivably forewarned by the bad example Paramount had set, decided right from the start to release their television properties on a per season basis in the new DVD home video format. 20th Century Fox became the pioneering one with their The X-Files DVD box set releases, which, complete with all the accouterments of such releases, started its release run in May 2000, when Paramount's bare-bone Star Trek editions were still in the midst of their release run; the contrast between the two release formats could not possibly have been any starker and was certainly not lost on customers at the time. In Paramount's defense however, it should be noted that, as an "early adopter", unintended errors in judgment regarding the initial release formats could be expected.

Particularly loathed are the so-called "retailer exclusive" formats. The format entailed that preferred retailers, most notably the chain store Best Buy, would receive versions that contained special features not included on the regular releases. [15] An early notable instance where Paramount had employed the practice was on the occasion of their first movie releases on DVD, starting in 1998 with First Contact. Regular customers could only buy the basic "vanilla" version of the movies, meaning only the movie itself with the theatrical trailer as single "extra", whereas Best Buy customers, for the same price, received an additional disc with the special features which were not available in any manner anywhere else; it infuriated fans, to put it mildly. At the time several scrupulous Best Buy patrons bought these releases in bulk and subsequently offered the special feature discs up at premium prices on eBay, the market site that was at the time rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with. [16] The perceived injustice was only redressed with the 2001-2005 "Special Edition" releases, though it meant yet another round of double-dipping. While the franchise could traditionally afford to dismiss fan/costumer concerns in these regards as entirely irrelevant – particularly before the advent of the internet age, when customers for the most part remained blissfully (from the franchise's point of view that is) unaware of the varying treatments, euphemistically called "market discrimination" in business economics – criticism of the retailer exclusive format in particular, started to swell considerably during 2012, precisely because of the internet. It became an issue of note with the releases of the Next Generation and Enterprise Blu-ray home video formats. But the situation truly came to a head during the "Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray VAM controversy", which, officially at least, marked the first time that the franchise actually buckled under fan/customer pressure, rectifying their "wrongdoings" by releasing the 2014 Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray set, and offering a $5 rebate for US residents only (a discrimination – not the first time – which, somewhat incomprehensibly, implies that the franchise still considers foreign markets as sideshows), who had previously purchased Star Trek or Into Darkness on Blu-ray. [17]

Exhibit and attraction franchise[]

From the early 1990s onward, the franchise has, through subsidiaries and conglomerate sister companies of Paramount (such as Paramount Production/Show Services, Paramount Parks Entertainment or CBS Consumer Products itself), branched out in Star Trek-themed commercial public side-activities in the form of exhibitions and attractions. However, it was somewhat ironic that neither phenomenon was actually started by the franchise itself; it was only after the phenomenal successes of the 1988-1996 Star Trek Adventure attraction of distribution partner Universal Studios (though fully licensed by Paramount) and the 1992-1994 Star Trek Smithsonian Exhibit by the Smithsonian Institution (though supported by the studio), that the franchise, from 1993 onward and deeming them commercially viable, took over full control over either, starting with the 1993 Star Trek World Tour for exhibitions, and the 1998 Star Trek: The Experience for attractions.

Becoming "The Franchise"[]

By the time the television series Star Trek: Voyager went into production, the studio's stance and attitude towards Star Trek had radically changed from the one it had back in 1967. Studio Executive Brandon Tartikoff had already stated by the time The Next Generation went into its fifth season, "When you look at the books, you saw that Star Trek: The Next Generation was a twenty-five-million-dollar-goody, every year. That's the profit it would generate for Paramount." (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, p. 155) Stephen Poe observed two years later for himself how much the studio's stance and attitude had changed, when he resided at the studio on an extended stay in order to chronicle the genesis of the fourth live action Star Trek series, Voyager. Poe noticed that studio employees, executives included, were almost unanimously and reverently referring to their Star Trek property as "The Franchise" due to its reliable and consistent revenue stream, having been from the mid-1980s through the 1990s Paramount's most profitable property, much to the envy of industry competitors. [6] (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, pp. 50-51)

Reporter Mark A. Altman disclosed that the entire franchise – which is otherwise loath to report the other revenue streams themselves, apart from the box office takes – had already passed the US$1 billion mark in total studio revenues by 1993 (Cinefantastique, Vol 24 #3/4, p. 16), which was upped to US$2 billion gross in Entertainment Weekly's Special Star Trek Issue of 18 January 1995. In his 1998 book A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager (p. 55), Stephen Poe cited a Los Angeles Times article, that claimed nearly US$2 billion franchise revenues in retail sales alone. While the gross box office takes of the Star Trek franchise, US$1.9 billion as of 2015, are relatively well known, the gross revenues from the other franchise elements remain shrouded in mystery (the 1995 Entertainment Weekly US$2 billion statement, implied a rough fifty-fifty split at that time). [18] In December 1998 the Los Angeles Times reported a US$3.5 billion aggregate consumer merchandise turnover, which did not include the box office takes and their derivative home media formats sales, [19] constituting a considerable upward adjustment from the US$1.3 billion franchise total gross they reported four years earlier in May 1994. [20] Richard Arnold has later on reported a US$10 billion total turnover in July 2016, which like the 1994 Los Angeles Times figure, constituted a franchise total up until then, thus also including box office takes and home media format sales, and thus implying a roughly 80/20 split between all merchandise and box office takes – Star Trek Beyond was just released at the time of Arnold's report, its total box office take therefore not yet known. [21]

Despite the reluctance of the franchise to divulge more detailed figures itself, but with revenues undoubtedly running in the billions over the decades, Star Trek has become one of the most successful media franchises in history. Yet, it is the financial success of the younger Star Wars franchise, a franchise rival right from the start, and sporting far fewer movie or television productions, that is truly staggering, dwarfing that of Star Trek. (see: main article)

Viacom/CBS split and reunification[]

A somewhat ambiguous situation arose in late 2005, when the original Viacom holding corporation was split up into two independent corporations (although both corporations were owned by the same company, National Amusements, meaning the franchise was still owned by one company), the television corporation CBS Corporation (which constituted the former Viacom) and a motion picture corporation, which, a bit confusingly perhaps, was also called Viacom and of which Paramount Pictures was now a part. The split was formalized in January 2006. CBS licensed the right to produce Star Trek films to Paramount Pictures, but the newly-formed successor of the Paramount Marketing and Licensing Department, CBS Consumer Products, remained the sole entity responsible for the marketing and licensing of the entire Star Trek product line for both the television as well as the movie properties, instead of farming out the latter to Paramount's own division, Paramount Licensing, Inc.

However, this confusing division ended in 2019, when the new Viacom and CBS corporations were again merged into a new conglomerate, originally called ViacomCBS. With the companies reunited, the Star Trek franchise was also brought under one roof; although television production remained with CBS Studios, that department was once again a corporate sibling of Paramount Pictures. In February 2022, ViacomCBS renamed itself Paramount Global, taking the name of the movie studio for the entire conglomerate.

Relaunching the Star Trek television franchise[]

The continuing success of the syndicated Original Series, now augmented with three successful theatrical movies (even The Motion Picture turned out to be far more profitable than the studio initially led to believe – see: Star Trek films: Performance summary) and with a fourth movie and the 20th anniversary of the franchise coming up, enticed now Paramount Television Group President Mel Harris to decide that it would be an opportune time to launch a brand new Star Trek television series, especially since the fourth movie, The Voyage Home, soon proved to be exceptionally successful. To this end he instructed in mid-summer 1986 his subordinate, Paramount Network Television President John S. Pike, to develop what was to become The Next Generation. Initially, the studio wanted to proceed without Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, which was, aside from his notorious eccentricities, partly due to his failing health. Nevertheless Pike, heeding his movie predecessor's considerations, decided to bring him in on 12 September 1986, this time in an active executive producer role. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, p. 7) Unfortunately, Roddenberry's eccentricities, aggravated by ill health and his notorious attorney Leonard Maizlish, soon reasserted themselves yet again, turning the production of the first two seasons of the new series into a repeat performance of what had happened during the production of Star Trek: Phase II - The Motion Picture.

In an ironic repetition of what Herbert Solow had to go through twenty-two years earlier, Pike had a tough time selling the series to the networks, as interest in science fiction for television was at an all time low at the time (after The Next Generation started its run, it was for years the only new science fiction series being aired). Most ironically, it was future Paramount President Brandon Tartikoff who declined to buy the series for NBC, which he headed at the time; in 1965 NBC had bought The Original Series. Pike was down to his last option, Fox Broadcasting Company (which, again ironically, was established by Barry Diller, now succeeding where he had failed for Paramount in 1977 in establishing a fourth television network for which Star Trek: Phase II was slated to serve as flagship), finding it interested, but only wanting to commit to a half season of thirteen episodes at an offer that was nowhere near enough to cover the projected budget of US$1.2 million per episode for a full season. For the briefest of times it appeared that the new Star Trek television series had died before it even had been born, when Pike was approached by his colleague, Paramount Domestic Television President Lucie Salhany. (William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge)

Salhany convinced Pike to produce the new series for direct syndication, an entirely novel idea at the time, assuring him she could sell a full season of twenty-six episodes. Taking her cue from the syndication history of the Original Series, Salhany reasoned that even if the new series did not turn in a profit in first syndication run, the studio should still take its losses on this occasion, as subsequent runs would, not to mention the future revenues from associated sales, such as merchandise, home media formats (especially appealing to Harris, considering his prior involvement with these), foreign sales, and the like. Even more novel was Salhany's idea to offer the first syndication run of The Next Generation for free, in exchange for control over the seven-minute advertisement blocks. In order to manage financial risk, the studio green-lit a half season run of thirteen episodes packaged with Original Series episodes (which were to be paid for by networks). These were proposed to see if interest in the new series would materialize, especially from the side of advertisers, to continue production if it did. Subsequent events proved Salhany's hunch correct. In ultimately doing so, Star Trek again made television history. Mel Harris officially revealed the news of a new Star Trek television series on 10 October 1986. Despite a troubled and rocky production during its first two seasons, The Next Generation went on to arguably become the most successful outing in the television franchise. (William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge; Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, pp. 5-7, 11)

In all fairness though, the concept of direct syndication was not entirely new; Salhany's own division produced the current media affairs show Entertainment Tonight, which was, right from its launch in 1981, already sold through direct syndication. Nonetheless, The Next Generation did become the first major or "real" television show – as in a drama or a sitcom production – to be marketed this way, and it is more than likely that Salhany also got her cue from Entertainment Tonight, whose production she was responsible for. As studio property and an already established show with considerable national coverage, Entertainment Tonight became the franchise's natural choice as the primary outlet for all (live-action) media news regarding Star Trek, and several Star Trek specials have been featured in the show while Star Trek was in production in that period of time. Subsequently, the UPN network, later co-established by Salhany (see below), took over that position. None of the specials aired by either, though, have found their way onto later released home media formats, despite being franchise property.

As if to underscore that Salhany's hunch was a correct one, the first season finished with a 10.6 Nielsen rating, representing 9.4 million households, ranking first in the 18-49 age group, the prime demographic group sought by advertisers. While the first season was running, it was already sold to eight European and Asian countries, albeit for a limited run initially and reflecting the studio's thirteen-episode trial run. Additionally, by the start of the series' first summer hiatus, a domestic sale of US$2 million had already been realized in VHS tape sales, which only comprised the first four-six episodes at the time. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., p. 32)

For a chauvinistic, male-dominated industry as Hollywood was at the time, it was ironic that Star Trek was effectively saved for a second (or third, if one is to include Dawn Steel's crucial contribution for The Motion Picture) time by a woman, as Salhany's namesake, Lucille Ball, had already done so in February 1966 for the Original Series, followed by the unprecedented 1968 write-in campaign to save the series which was organized, and driven by, another woman, Bjo Trimble. The chauvinistic nature of the industry was further exemplified by the fact that Salhany's name was kept under wraps for decades, even as her novel approach became well-known, with her boss Mel Harris crediting her idea as a group effort. It was not until the 2014 documentary William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge that Salhany was unequivocally credited in full by her former colleague Pike as being the brains behind the format.

Unlike its original television predecessor, the series became profitable while it was still in production. On 21 January 1993, the studio declared The Next Generation "in the profit", and announced profit distribution to start the following month. Exceptionally pleased with the result, Mel Harris, in a for the studio uncharacteristic and unprecedented stance, became a Roddenberry supporter (in public at least) when he stated, "In the period since 1987 no other program has been able to get anywhere near [TNG]... It's primarily because of the program that was created....[I]f this hadn't been created in the way that it was by Gene Roddenberry, it probably wouldn't be on the air today and it certainly wouldn't be performing as it is." If Harris' praise had been genuine, then it was obvious that he had not been present on those occasions when his subordinate John Pike had to deal with Roddenberry. Pike has had his share of run-ins with Roddenberry. (William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge; [22])

25th anniversary, 1991

…dedicating the "Gene Roddenberry Building"…

Despite the studio's troubled relationship with Star Trek creator Roddenberry, the studio did at least exhibit the decency to acknowledge him in full for his contribution to their money making franchise. On the occasion of the franchise's 25th anniversary, on 6 June 1991, shortly before celebrating the 100th episode of The Next Generation, the Producers Building on the former Desilu studio lot was renamed the "Gene Roddenberry Building" in a highly publicized ceremony, the only building on the studio lot named for a television production staffer. Paramount television president Harris held a speech, making the above-quoted statement, and during the ceremony Star Trek captain performers William Shatner and Patrick Stewart said a few words about Roddenberry. Not only was it the sole building on the Paramount lot named for a television staffer, it was also a timely one, as Roddenberry passed away less than a half year later.

Post-Next Generation productions[]

The late Brandon Tartikoff, now chairman of Paramount Pictures from 1991 to 1992, during The Next Generation's fifth and sixth seasons, was deeply impressed with the success of the six (at the time) Star Trek films and The Next Generation, and it was he, in a complete reversal of the position he had six years earlier, who initiated and authorized the creation of a third live-action Star Trek series to launch into syndication, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. (Trek: The Unauthorized Behind-The-Scenes Story of The Next Generation; DS9 Season 1 DVD-special feature, "A Bold New Beginning")

However, him ordering a third live-action Star Trek television series, entailed far more than just doing that. The Next Generation Executive Producer Rick Berman had recounted that he had a series of meetings with Tartikoff, starting in the summer of 1991. As a former television network executive, Tartikoff was acutely aware that even the most successful series had a limited, economical lifespan for a variety of reasons, ranging from psychological cast fatigue, through naturally increasing production costs – if only for the annually inflation adjusted production staff wages as ordained by the Hollywood Unions, and not in the least for star cast salaries habitually inflating exponentially with each sequel – to increased competition with itself for scarce syndication time slots the longer a series runs. Together with Berman, Tartikoff decided upon an optimum Star Trek series run of seven seasons, meaning that The Next Generation had at that time only three seasons left to go. Though enamored with the Original Crew movies, Tartikoff was well aware that they too had run their course, if only for the age of the cast, but figured this was the perfect time to pass the baton to "the next generation", thereby starting a new Star Trek movie franchise. He instructed Berman to start looking into that, and have a movie ready at the end of The Next Generation television series (by which time the new Deep Space Nine series had to be up and running for two seasons), preferably one in which, one way or another, featured the transition of the Original Crew to The Next Generation Crew. Given his marching orders, Berman was sent on his way to his most daunting year in his career, 1994. For all intents and purposes, it was Tartikoff who had come up with the leap-frogging seven-season format of the modern Star Trek television franchise, and the start of The Next Generation movie franchise, though he had to leave the actual production start in February 1993 and oversight of what was to become the first Next Generation film, Star Trek Generations, to his immediate successor Sherry Lansing, due to his premature departure. (Star Trek Movie Memories, 1995, pp. 399-403; Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, pp. 154-157; [23])

Voyager itself was actually conceived to serve as the flagship of Paramount's second attempt of operating a television network, established in 1994 as United Paramount Network (UPN) by Lucie Salhany and her superior Kerry McCluggage. Salhany had previously been recruited in 1991 by Barry Diller to head the by him established Fox Broadcasting Company, but returned in 1994 to Paramount to succeed where her former boss had failed back in 1977. [24] Unlike its unsuccessful 1977 predecessor, UPN fared somewhat better, only ceasing to exist in 2006, after it had aired the fifth live action Star Trek series, Star Trek: Enterprise.

It was in this period of time that the most successful film set in the prime universe was released in 1996, Star Trek: First Contact, even surpassing, both in critical as well as financial terms, the two hitherto most successful and beloved ones, The Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home (see Star Trek films: Performance summary). It was only in hindsight that it became clear that First Contact represented the high water mark of what was then still called "The Franchise".

Demise of "The Franchise" in the prime universe[]

While Voyager was generally well received and considered successful by franchise management, its somewhat mixed reception already hinted at the writing on the wall of what Star Trek author and historian Larry Nemecek had referred to as "Franchise Fatigue". (Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise) And indeed, when Voyager premiered, Star Trek alumnus Robert Justman already observed, "I think the show has been flogged unmercifully and its going to rebound. The reaction is essentially going to be a negative reaction. If it is around in another 30 years, I don't think it's going to resemble what it has been in the past." [25](X) It later turned out that even co-creator and executive producer Rick Berman himself had reservations about the inception of yet another Star Trek reincarnation, so hard in the heels of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, essentially for the same franchise fatigue reasons. Yet, since it had slated the production to serve as the flagship for the studio's own recently established UPN television network, the studio had overriding, commercial reasons to push ahead with Voyager nonetheless.

An aggravating contributor to the franchise fatigue, was the proliferation of Star Trek-related merchandise in that period of time, inundating and over-saturating the market. While profitable at first as related above, it has also caused William Shatner to exclaim, "What the hell are all of you people buying, anyway?" in his autobiography Get a Life!, having additionally observed that because of the merchandise proliferation Star Trek was no longer "special" by 1999. Shatner appeared to have a point then, as licensees were already starting to dial down their Star Trek merchandise; long standing Star Trek toy manufacturer Playmates Toys, for example, was already rumored to let its license expire without much further ado in December 1999, [26](X) which turned out to be true even sooner than expected on 17 September 1999, when Playmates formally canceled all Star Trek lines (though it has acquired a new license in 2008). [27] Likewise, Racing Champions, who had acquired Star Trek merchandise producing companies AMT, Ertl, and Playing Mantis, immediately ceased and desisted any and all Star Trek product lines upon their acquisition in 1999, the Johnny Lightning model toy line of the latter having been the sole exception. For AMT in particular, this was poignant, as it had been the oldest and truest known licensing partner of the franchise, courtesy the aforementioned Stephen Edward Poe, ever since it released the very first Star Trek model kit, that of the USS Enterprise, back in 1966 (though it too, under new ownership, has rekindled the license a decade later).

However, the first clear-cut and unmistakable sign that the franchise was in trouble came in December the same year when Star Trek: Insurrection was released; the movie was a flop, at that time the all-time worst performing movie in the franchise ever, and the first Star Trek film to turn in a net loss for the studio, and a substantial one at that. Even the hitherto most reviled one, The Final Frontier had managed to break even.

Still, franchise management decided to push the envelope even further, if only for the fact that Voyager had ended its run and that UPN was in need of another flagship. And so, yet another Star Trek live-action incarnation was ordered to premier in 2000. Having had reservations on Voyager already, this time around Berman was near skeptical, as was later revealed by his partner for the new project, Brannon Braga, in 2014, "Star Trek was wearing out its welcome. Rick Berman didn't want to make a show so soon but Paramount did. I think it was too soon for another show. It was a quality show, but the ratings weren't really what they should be. And I don't think the network – the new regime [at UPN] – I don’t think they treated the show with the tender loving care that it needed to thrive." [28] Not only that, but outside voices started to chime in as well; when interviewed by TV Guide, Mark Altman, even though he was and is a life-long Star Trek fan, additionally expressed his great doubt and was not convinced of the viability of the franchise when a fifth, prequel series was announced, what eventually was to become Enterprise, being on record as having stated, "People are sick of Star Trek. But rather than give the franchise a rest and re-launch in a few years when fervor has built again, Paramount is going to run it into the ground until it's dead." [29]

Having been given his marching orders, Berman had little choice, other than resigning, but to obey his superiors and set to work with partner Braga. "Contrary to the people on the Internet who seem to think I never cared very much about the Star Trek franchise, I did and I do. I felt that if someone was going to keep it true to Gene Roddenberry's vision it would probably be better me than for me to bow out," Berman stated in this respect to Star Trek Magazine. In order to set the new series apart from the others, Berman tried his hand at an entirely different approach, and it was exactly for these reasons that the series was simply called Enterprise, without the Star Trek prenom. Unfortunately, it did not work out as he had hoped. Debuting with a relatively large audience, Enterprise quickly lost viewership and inspired criticism of both the series and its creators, with fans – and as it turned out after-the-fact by production staffers as well – criticizing alleged violations in established continuity, causing a polarization in the apparently dwindling Star Trek fan base.

Enter Star Trek Nemesis in 2002, after the second season airing of Enterprise— and if the performance of Insurrection had been dismal, the box office take of Nemesis was even worse. The film only barely earned back its production budget – barely (see: Star Trek films: Gross vs Net profitability). Already up in arms over Enterprise, outspoken critics saw this as the straw that broke the camel's back and clamored for the removal of Berman in earnest. The most partisan ones were united in the "The Star Trek Fan Association" (STFA). A relatively small organization, it was at the time a very vocal one nonetheless, rapidly becoming the focal point for press and media alike, interested in reporting on what all the upheaval was about. (Star Trek and American Television, p. 40) Nationwide attention the STFA garnered, when it very shortly after the release of Nemesis organized an online petition to Viacom President Sumner Redstone and Paramount head Sherry Lansing, calling for sweeping changes within the Star Trek franchise leadership (not realizing that they by proxy also questioned the abilities of Redstone and Lansing as well) and creative direction with the goal of "restoring" the franchise to Gene Roddenberry's creative precedents. [7] While the franchise usually ignored Trekdom entirely, this was media attention it could do well without, and it conceivably contributed to their internal decision to cancel Enterprise after its third season, which was at the time already in full pre-production. Therefore, while already indicating cancellation with the approach of the end of the third season of Enterprise (though better, not that well received either), so too did Paramount and UPN indicate the apparent end of Rick Berman's tenure as the overseer of Star Trek productions.

Berman himself divulged that, in the case of Enterprise, the relationship between UPN and Star Trek, which had been a warm one during the production of Voyager, had by then soured considerably and had taken a turn for the worst, "Our relationship with the network was distant. And it wasn't embracing and warm and… a sense of working together that had existed in all the years before." (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray-special feature, "In a Time of War") With the 2013-2014 releases of the Enterprise Blu-ray sets, several of his former subordinates, both cast and production staff, have subsequently corroborated Berman's assessment, coming forward with tales which also pointed at studio politics detrimental to Star Trek in general, and serious mismanagement of Enterprise in particular, especially where ratings and demographics interpretation, as well as air time scheduling were concerned. In the latter respect, it exhibited disturbing similarities with what had befallen between The Original Series and NBC back in the 1960s. Exemplary of studio politics was, according to Braga, their decree, if the series was to be renewed for a fourth season – the network actually already of a mind not to do so – the producers would get rid off Scott Bakula as Jonathan Archer, which Berman fought tooth and nail, successfully as it turned out (though he had not been able to counter their decree to add "Star Trek" to the series title which was originally just Enterprise, as explicitly intended). (Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise)

Whether or not influenced by the petition and though remaining credited, franchise management indeed virtually relegated both Berman and Braga to the role of figurehead at the end of the third season (admitted as such by Braga in 2007 [30]), and their places were de facto filled for, what turned out to be, the last season by Manny Coto and his second man Mike Sussman, under whose tenure much of the perceived continuity violation was redressed, aided by writers such as the Reeves-Stevens author couple, who, like them, had an equally thorough understanding of original Star Trek lore. That the series was renewed for a last season, was in no small part due to the fact that strong backing was received from an unexpected corner; Scott Bakula has unequivocally cited Garry Hart, the former UPN head and Star Trek supporter, who had just been promoted to another position within the conglomerate, as the driving force behind the renewal, thereby thwarting the cancellation intents of his successor(s) at UPN, conceivably an instance of "studio politics". (Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise)

How eager UPN was to get rid of Enterprise, despite the last season being considered a triumph by staffers and fans alike, was exemplified by the fact that the last season ended four episodes shy of a full season. At the time UPN made it known that it was changing its focus by targeting an African-American audience and produced urban-themed situation comedies with African-American casts, as well as professional wrestling and reality shows. This change in targeted demographics and programming was by contemporaries accepted as the reason for the cancellation of Enterprise after only four seasons of a projected seven season run. No matter what cancellation considerations were in play; prime universe Star Trek was finished, both literally and figuratively.

"The Franchise" changes hands[]

Though not directly related, a further aggravating circumstance for Star Trek was, that in January 2006, the former Viacom was split into two separate, independent companies: CBS Corporation and a new Viacom. The split resulted in an extensive "Studio Shuffle" with all the unsavory studio politics surrounding it, not unlike the one that had befallen the studio back in 1991 when The Undiscovered Country was in production, with executives fired, hired, promoted, demoted, reassigned, and not few of them hostile to Star Trek as has been, but ending up in places where it mattered to Star Trek nevertheless, most conspicuously Leslie Moonves, a reputed hater "of all things Sci-Fi" – Star Trek included. [31] Moonves, in his previous position as head of Paramount Television in favor of the earlier by Hart thwarted 2003 in-house cancellation decision, had actually been the executive who personally ordained the ultimate cancellation of Enterprise in February 2005, therefore in turn effectively thwarting the efforts of his now subordinate Garry Hart to keep the show alive, and thus ending Star Trek prime as well for the time being. Less than a year later Moonves ended UPN as well. (In Conversation: Writing Star Trek: Enterprise; [32]) Within a year, all executives known, or even rumored, to have been Star Trek-"friendly", were either let go or reassigned to other positions within the conglomerate – only forced to leave as well after the split became effective in January 2006; these included in addition to Garry Hart among others, Sherry Lansing (ironically Moonves' superior until 2004, when the latter was promoted to co-CEO of old Viacom), Kerry McCluggage and, ultimately, Rick Berman (who, unlike every other Star Trek production staffer, had studio tenure) as well.

CBS Corporation was given ownership of Paramount Television, which until then had always been a dependent division of Paramount Pictures, and was renamed "CBS Paramount Television", eventually known as "CBS Television Studios", and most recently CBS Studios, incidentally terminating UPN in the process. It was therefore from now on CBS that exercised ownership of the Star Trek franchise and television series, while Paramount Pictures, now part of the new Viacom, retained the rights to the Star Trek films through a license from CBS Television Studios, which remained the sole entity holding the copyrights to the Star Trek franchise. For the movies this meant that, with the exception of the direct box-office takes, the subsequent home media sales and the sale of television rights – though an undisclosed, but likely hefty percentage of these still have to be paid as license fees – all other forms of revenues, most notably those of related merchandise, revert directly to CBS, not Paramount. An undesirable side-effect the split has caused, was the aggravation of the already controversial "Hollywood accounting" phenomenon.

Yet, for all the repercussions it has entailed for the franchise in practice, it must again be noted and reminded that, while the franchise has formally changed hands – that is, on paper at least – , actual end ownership has remained unchanged factually, as both new entities are still owned and fully controlled by National Amusements, the family owned holding group of "media mogul" Sumner Redstone (who not only continued to serve as CEO of new Viacom, but also as that of CBS Corporation – alongside Moonves – until 2016, when he was forced to step back due to age in favor of his daughter Shari) as it has always been ever since his former Viacom acquired the remnants of Gulf+Western back in 1994, until then the property of the Charles Bluhdorn family.

Liquidation of assets[]

Whether or not the disappointment over the live-action production performances of the last three Star Trek outings, general animosity toward the phenomenon, simple harsh economic realities, or any combination thereof were in play, fact remained, the new owners came at the franchise with a vengeance.

Firstly there was their decision to sell off Paramount's entire warehouses' contents of Star Trek production stock assets in the 2006-2009 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection, and It's A Wrap! sale and auction wave of auctions, with the exception of those that were still on exhibition tour at the times. While CBS put a positive spin on the decision in wordings that amounted to "graciously allowing" dedicated fans the "wonderful" chance to own a piece of Star Trek history (Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier), it did not take a Nobel Prize laureate to realize that the primary reason was CBS' rush to liquidate their Star Trek holdings as quickly as possible, making it abundantly clear that CBS was done with Star Trek as it had been.

There was a certain amount of cynicism involved surrounding the 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection auction organized by auction house Christie's, as it was presented as the franchise's one of only two official events for Star Trek's 40th anniversary. Additional official events were absent, save for employing a barely observed anniversary logo. The contrast with the high profile, highly publicized Hollywood-style gala event for the 30th anniversary, registered as the Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond documentary, could not have been any greater. To date, the 40th anniversary has been the least celebrated anniversary of all, ever since the franchise started to celebrate these in 1986, having seen the conception of The Next Generation as part of that anniversary.

If there had been any lingering doubt left within Trekdom about the intentions of CBS, that bubble was popped less than a year later when CBS cut the last line of official communications with the outside Star Trek world (Star Trek Communicator, the official fanclub magazine, had folded the year before when publisher Decipher Games gave up its license due to internal issues unrelated to the studio changes) when was taken off-line, almost overnight, with its entire staff fired on the spot as the result of "restructuring" at CBS Interactive. [33](X) Over the years a substantial amount of behind-the-scenes production information had been gathered on the site, but CBS has not bothered to make backups of this material and as a result, a valuable cache of information was essentially lost to posterity.

Next up were the former Paramount entertainment parks and attractions that CBS had acquired in the "divorce settlement", with Star Trek: The Experience as one of its flagships. Within the time span of two years all of these were sold to such third parties as Cedar Fair Enterprise, and by 2008 all Star Trek-themed attractions had become defunct.

The print franchise too, enjoyed the scrutiny of the new owners; the number of "official" magazines had already started to dwindle under the previous owner Paramount to just the one, the British Star Trek Magazine, but now CBS went after the foreign language editions that were still in print, as Oliver Denker, the Chief Editor of Star Trek: Das offizielle Magazin (a German language variant of Star Trek Magazine) could attest to. Denker had to renegotiate his license due to the new ownership situation in 2007, only to find out that, much to his dismay, he was unable to and has cited a "mercurial" CBS Consumer Products as the reason for the failed negotiations. [34] Denker had reasons to be dismayed, as the magazine was doing well, since Germany, along with several other European Union nations, enjoyed something of a Star Trek revival due to the syndication phenomenon. Denker was not the only one who found himself in this position, as by 2008, with exception of two GE Fabbri publications, no other foreign language official magazine was still in print, leaving the British magazine the sole "official" survivor. The number of Star Trek books too was whittled down considerably, with Pocket Books ceasing publication of reference books altogether, and the number of new novels reduced to what was essentially a token number only with the majority of 40th anniversary novel releases being cheap reprints. Within two years all Star Trek affiliated editors, most notably, Marco Palmieri and Margaret Clark, were booted out. Remarkably, one successful Pocket Books publication, the Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendar series, was as late as 2012 sold to Universe Publishing and Andrews McMeel Publishing.

The prevailing mood was not lost on other merchandise license holders either, and their exodus continued unabated, resulting in a 2006-2008 merchandise drought and a stark contrast with the merchandise situation a decade before. There was a single bright spot in this era however; Art Asylum had only gained a merchandise license at the turn of the millennium, releasing products pertaining to Enterprise at first, and refused to give in to the pursuant general mood, stubbornly continuing to release Star Trek-based models and action figures in a period of time that was virtually devoid of competitors. Art Asylum's faith in the franchise has paid off, as it still holds the prime universe license as of 2016.

There were however two franchise elements that escaped the scrutiny relatively unscathed. The first one was an obvious one as it had always been relatively easy money – syndication. And as a matter of fact, CBS came in at the tail end of what was essentially a syndication bonanza, courtesy the European Union. From the mid-1990s onward, the Union had ordained its member states to liberalize their broadcast landscape. Up until then, almost all European countries traditionally had their respective governments exercise control over the airwaves, but the member states had now committed themselves to allow commercial broadcasters unrestricted access to the airwaves as well. This sparked a boom in the number of channels all over the Union. However, there was in most countries a proviso: in order to retain their broadcast license, a newcomer committed itself to broadcast a daily minimum number of hours. As virtually none of these newcomers had their own production companies yet in place to fill their time slots, a veritable scramble for 1980s-1990s television productions ensued, Hollywood being the most obvious provider of these. With its impressive backlog catalog, Star Trek fitted the initial need for these newcomers perfectly. As a result, the European airwaves were for nearly a decade flooded with Star Trek, in most cases airing on a daily basis. In a country like the Netherlands, for example, which had only aired part of the Original Series in the early 1970s up until then, all spin-off series were now aired on daily basis, sometimes concurrently on different channels. It should be noted that this was at the time a somewhat unusual situation, as all these series had already been made available to the Dutch public through both the rental circuit as well as the home media format market. The minimum broadcast hours proviso has sometimes also led to odd situations; at one point commercial broadcaster Veronica had to air Enterprise in the dead of night, when the country was asleep, to not lose its license. [35] For the most part this situation applied to the other countries as well, but it has also been a part of the reasons why Denker's above-mentioned magazine was doing so well. However, by 2007-2008, the new situation on the European broadcast landscape had settled, with production companies in full swing, providing the commercial broadcasters with their own productions, and the after-market demand for Star Trek has dropped sharply since then, the movies excepted.

The other franchise element that escaped "The Wrath of CBS" unscathed, for partly the same reasons, was the home media format franchise, particularly since it was the dawn of high definition television. In this light the survival of Fabbri's two publications should be considered, as both were a DVD/Magazine combination partwork publication, the DVD element being, quite literally, the saving grace. In effect, it was one of the very few areas, if not the only one, where CBS took affirmative action in that period of time, by commissioning the production of The Original Series remastering project. Favorably received, the remastering project stands out as the single bright spot, in what was otherwise the "Dark Ages" of what once was "The Franchise". Incidentally and somewhat characteristically, CBS gambled on the wrong horse initially when it released the first season of the remastered series in the HD DVD format, the high resolution format that lost out to Blu Ray. Announced on 31 August 2006, the project was the second (and last) of CBS's official events for Star Trek's 40th anniversary, and its episodes were first broadcast on television, before being disseminated on home media formats. Contrary to the Christie's auction, this project at least had a positive ring about it, lacking the cynical undertones of the former. Actually, the remastering project conceivably helped to keep Star Trek Magazine afloat, as CBS belatedly realized that they were increasingly left without any official communication channels to promote the project to the very target audience it was intended for; the traditional Star Trek fan base. Publisher Titan Magazines was allowed in late 2006 to launch the magazine in the US – having been devoid of any "official" print publication since 2005 – as well, its contents synchronized with the British source publication.

Rekindling "The Franchise"[]

This article or section is incompleteThis page is marked as lacking essential detail, and needs attention. Information regarding expansion requirements may be found on the article's talk page. Feel free to edit this page to assist with this expansion.

Reestablishing itself in the alternate universe[]

While the last three live-action Star Trek productions had tanked, the same era also witnessed a remarkable upswing in other science fiction productions; television had Ronald D. Moore's critically acclaimed revamped Battlestar Galactica series, whose first regular season started its run, while Enterprise's last was being aired, but it was especially the big screen that saw a proliferation of genre feature productions, quite a few of them becoming box-office smashes, those stemming from the Marvel Comics universe in particular. It was after Paramount itself had a hand in four of them, War of the Worlds (2005 as distributor), Transformers (2007 as co-producer), Iron Man (2008 as distributor), and Cloverfield (2008 as co-producer), that the studio decided, even though it no longer owned the franchise, to give Star Trek another go and activate the license they held from CBS. In this it was very reminiscent of their decision to do The Motion Picture back in 1977 in response to Star Wars. In order to maximize the chances for commercial success they contracted Transformer scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci for the same chore, as well as the highly successful Cloverfield producer J.J. Abrams for that, as well as the directorial chores. In effect, it had been Abrams himself, after he had been signed by Paramount for a five-movie deal in 2006 – Cloverfield becoming his first one for Paramount – who presented the idea of revisiting Star Trek to the studio. (Star Trek Magazine issue 129) These men set to work to reinvent Star Trek, essentially recreating Star Trek from scratch with little of the philosophies behind the Star Trek universe as postulated by creator Roddenberry left intact – if any at all, exactly as predicted by Robert Justman back in 1994, but fifteen years earlier than even he could have foreseen.

It worked, the 2009 alternate universe feature film Star Trek became a box office success, easily surpassing any of its predecessors by far. The 2009 film itself became surpassed by its successor, the 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, also directed and produced by Abrams. Its sequel became the 2016 film Star Trek Beyond, which was however, rather unexpectedly, considerably less successful. (see: Star Trek films: Performance summary)

Yet, while hugely successful at the box offices, long standing Star Trek production veteran Doug Drexler spoke for many prime universe Star Trek fans, skeptical of the reinvented version, when he stated, "Technically they are beautiful… the work is stunning… however… and I hope no one will hold this against me… I did not enjoy the last two films, and honest… I really wanted to… but for me, Star Trek has to have a philosophical, humanist bend to it… always making a point, or asking a question. It should be introspective, and self examining. That's the Roddenberry factor. The new films are devoid of Gene Roddenberry, and at the end of the day, I'm not ok with that." [36](X) Drexler's observation was more than validated when Paramount Motion Pictures Group President Marc Evans made the following comment in 2015, "I often think about the areas of the Star Trek universe that haven’t been taken advantage of. Like, I'll be ridiculous with you, but what would Star Trek: Zero Dark Thirty look like? Where is the SEAL Team Six of the Star Trek universe? That fascinates me," a statement that flew straight in the face of Roddenberry's non-militaristic vision for his Star Trek universe – and which had actually already spawned some fan criticism when the MACOs were introduced in Enterprise. [37] Drexler is not the only prime universe production staffer skeptical of alternate universe Star Trek, as Producer Robert Meyer Burnett has voiced similar concerns in public. [38]

Still, the box office aggregates of nearly US$1.2 billion for the first three films alone (surpassing the amount all ten previous Star Trek movies had made), as well as the partial resurgence of the overall franchise, indicated that revitalized Star Trek had attracted a new viewership that went well above and beyond traditional Trekdom.

Studio executives actively involved with Star Trek productions[]

(Note: This list is currently incomplete.)

In the list below, the name of the executive producers for any given production is also mentioned after its title. Formally, they are not part of the studio executive staff, but the creative managerial heads of the actual productions, and as such officially credited, which studio executives – Original Series executives Bill Heath, Herb Solow, Douglas S. Cramer, and The Motion Picture's Lindsley Parsons, Jr. being the notably sole exceptions – are traditionally not. Yet, they do serve as the primary liaison between the actual productions and the studio oversight and consequently, they are answerable to studio executives. Note that even the highest Paramount executives had bosses; Diller, for example, was answerable to Gulf+Western President Bluhdorn, who, while relatively far removed from the production, did make some momentous decisions concerning the Star Trek movie franchise, as related above, aside from being responsible for acquiring the franchise for Paramount in the first place. Also listed are the executives involved with the Star Trek television franchise, since these productions were until 2006 part of Paramount Pictures, as explained above.

Note: Executives listed in order of hierarchy. For the executive staff at Desilu prior to the second season of The Original Series, please refer to: Desilu Executive Staff.
  • Star Trek films
    • Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Executive Producer: Gene Roddenberry
      • Barry Diller – Chairman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures
      • Michael Eisner – President of Production in Features (from August 1977 onward)
      • Jeffery Katzenberg – Vice-President of Production in Features (from August 1977 onward)
      • Lindsley Parsons, Jr. – Vice-President of Production in Features (from November 1977 onward)
      • Don Simpson – Vice-President of Production in Features (from November 1977 onward)
      • Dawn Steel – Vice-President of Marketing and Licensing
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Executive Producer: Harve Bennett
      • Barry Diller – Chairman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures
      • Michael Eisner – President of Production in Features
      • Jeffery Katzenberg – Vice-President of Production in Features
      • Dawn Steel – Vice-President of Production in Features
      • Frank Mancuso, Sr. – Vice-President of Marketing and Licensing
    • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Executive Producer: Harve Bennett
      • Barry Diller – Chairman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures
      • Michael Eisner – President of Production in Features
      • Jeffery Katzenberg – Vice-President of Production in Features
      • Dawn Steel – Vice-President of Production in Features
      • Frank Mancuso, Sr. – President of Marketing and Licensing
    • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Executive Producers: Harve Bennett, Ralph Winter. The death of Bluhdorn in 1983 and the departure of Diller, Eisner and Katzenberg, all within a timespan of two weeks in 1984, initiated a substantial reorganization of Paramount Pictures, most notably the formation of a dedicated television division and a dedicated movie division, which were previously somewhat intermingled departments. (Star Trek Movie Memories, 1995, p. 239)
      • Frank Mancuso, Sr. – Chairman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures
      • Ned Tanen – President Motion Picture Group
      • Dawn Steel – President of Production Motion Picture Group
      • David Kirkpatrick – Vice-President of Production Motion Picture Group
      • Teddy Zee – Vice-President of Production Motion Picture Group
    • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Executive Producer: Harve Bennett
      • Frank Mancuso, Sr. – Chairman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures
      • Ned Tanen – President Motion Picture Group
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Executive Producers: Steven-Charles Jaffe, Ralph Winter. The period between 1989-1991 was marked by much turmoil at the top of the studio, brought on by, aside from The Final Frontier, a string of disappointing, yet very expensive, movie releases leaving the studio deeply in the red, only aggravated by a worldwide recession. Executives were almost replaced on a yearly basis resulting in much infighting at the top as well as failing communications. Exemplary of this was, that Mancuso authorized in 1989 the pre-production of Starfleet Academy as the sixth Star Trek movie, to be headed by Harve Bennet as Executive Producer, and featuring an entirely new cast. However, nobody had thought of informing the very highest executive of this, Paramount Communications President Martin Davis (successor of the deceased Bluhdorn), who, when he ultimately was, furiously demanded an Original Crew movie, thrashing Bennet's movie on the spot, followed by yet another round of executive firings, veteran of 31 years Mancuso among them. By that time more than eighteen months of valuable production time had been lost. (Star Trek Movie Memories, 1995, p. 340-396)
      • Martin Davis – President Paramount Communications (formerly known as Gulf+Western until 1989)
      • Frank Mancuso, Sr. – Chairman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures (1990)
      • Stanley R. Jaffe – Vice-President Paramount Communications, Interim Chairman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures (1990-1991, serving as proxy until suitable replacement was found)
      • Ned Tanen – President Motion Picture Group (1989)
      • Sid Ganis – President Motion Picture Group (1990)
      • David Kirkpatrick – President Motion Picture Group (1991)
      • Brandon Tartikoff – President Motion Picture Group (1991)
      • Gary Lucchesi – President of Production Motion Picture Group
      • Teddy Zee – Vice-President of Production Motion Picture Group (1989-1990)
      • John Goldwyn – Vice-President of Production Motion Picture Group (1991)
    • Star Trek Generations, Executive Producer: Rick Berman
      • Sherry Lansing – Chairman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures
      • John Goldwyn – President of Production Motion Picture Group
  • Star Trek television series
    • Star Trek: The Original Series (Season 2-3), Executive Producers: Gene Roddenberry (Season 2), Fred Freiberger (Season 3)
      • Charles Bluhdorn – President Gulf+Western, Chairman of the Board Paramount Pictures
      • John T. Reynolds – President Paramount Television
      • Herb Solow – Vice-President of Programs Paramount Television (Season 2)
      • Douglas S. Cramer – Vice-President of Programs Paramount Television (Season 3)
    • Star Trek: Phase II, Executive Producer: Gene Roddenberry
      • Charles Bluhdorn – Chairman of the Board, President Gulf+Western
      • Barry Diller – Chairman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures
      • Michael Eisner – President Paramount Television (until August 1977)
      • Jeffery Katzenberg – President of Television Programming (until August 1977)
      • Mel Harris – Vice-President Research Television Programming
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation, Executive Producers: Gene Roddenberry (Season 12), Rick Berman (Season 37), Michael Piller (Season 4 – 7)
      • Frank Mancuso, Sr. – Chairman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures (Season 1 – 4)
      • Brandon Tartikoff – Chairman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures (Season 56)
      • Sherry Lansing – Chairwoman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures (Season 6 – 7)
      • Mel Harris – President Paramount Television (Season 1 – 3)
      • John S. Pike – President Paramount Network Television (Season 1 – 6)
      • Garry Hart – President Paramount Network Television (Season 7)
      • Lucie Salhany – President Paramount Domestic Television (Season 1 – 4)
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Executive Producers: Rick Berman, Michael Piller (Season 13), Ira Steven Behr (Season 47)
      • Brandon Tartikoff – Chairman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures (Season 1)
      • Sherry Lansing – Chairwoman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures (Season 27)
      • Kerry McCluggage – President of Production Television Group
      • John S. Pike – President Paramount Network Television (Season 1)
      • Garry Hart – President Paramount Network Television (Season 2 – Season 7)
      • Tom Mazza – Vice-President of Current Programs and Strategic Planning, Network Television
    • Star Trek: Voyager, Executive Producers: Rick Berman, Michael Piller (Season 12), Jeri Taylor (Season 1 – 4), Brannon Braga (Season 56), Kenneth Biller (Season 7)
      • Sherry Lansing – Chairwoman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures
      • Kerry McCluggage – President of Production Television Group
      • Garry Hart – President Paramount Network Television (as of 1994 UPN)
      • Lucie Salhany – President of Current Programs and Strategic Planning, Network Television (Season 1 – 4)
      • Tom Mazza – Vice-President of Current Programs and Strategic Planning, Network Television
    • Star Trek: Enterprise, Executive Producers: Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, Manny Coto (Season 4)
      • Leslie Moonves – Member of the Board, Co-President Viacom (old) (Season 4)
      • Sherry Lansing – Chairwoman of the Board, President Paramount Pictures (Season 1 – 4)
      • Leslie Moonves – President CBS Paramount Television (Season 1 – 3)
      • Kerry McCluggage – President of Production Television Group (Season 1 – 2)
      • Garry Hart – President Paramount Network Television (Season 1 – 3)

Historical overview[]

Founded by Adolph Zukor in on 8 May 1912, Paramount Pictures is America's second oldest, still-operating, motion picture studio behind Universal Studios, though only by a little over a week. Its logo – the highly-recognizable, majestic Paramount mountain – has been part of the company from the beginning, thus making it the oldest surviving Hollywood film logo. For nearly half a century it was one of what once was colloquially known as the "Big Five" major Hollywood motion picture studios, along with 20th Century Fox (the "Fox" component having been founded in 1915), and the only surviving one still located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hollywood. Ironically, Universal had not been one of them, it being subordinated in a lower tier. One of the original "Big Five" had been RKO Pictures (founded on 23 October 1928) which went defunct on 7 March 1958, after which Desilu Studios bought its assets and real estate – but not its backlog library of film titles, even though a clipping from the 1945 RKO film The Spanish Main became a recurrent Star Trek "guest star". Through the acquisition of Desilu itself in 1967, Paramount became the owner of much of what had been a major industry competitor once.

Paramount Pictures was the company responsible for the film to win the very first "Best Picture" Academy Award in 1929, the silent World War I theatrical feature Wings (1927) – also turning out to become the only silent film to do so – additionally winning the very first "Best Effects, Engineering Effects" Academy Award, the later "Visual Effects" category. [39] Clippings of that movie were featured in the opening title sequences of the two Star Trek: Enterprise "In a Mirror, Darkly" mirror universe episodes.

Since then, Paramount has produced the Academy Award-winning films Going My Way (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), The Godfather (1972), The Godfather, Part II (1974), Ordinary People (1980), Terms of Endearment (1983), Forrest Gump (1994), Braveheart (1995), and Titanic (1997). Among the other acclaimed films they have produced are Double Indemnity (1944), Stalag 17 (1953), The War of the Worlds (1953, based on the book by H.G. Wells), The Ten Commandments (1956), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Chinatown (1974), Saturday Night Fever (1977), Grease (1978), Top Gun (1986), Fatal Attraction (1987), Saving Private Ryan (1998), and Zodiac (2007).

By 2020 one of only five to pass the US$2 billion mark as the all-time highest (worldwide) grossing films, the multi Academy Award winning Titanic (served by such Star Trek alumni as Robert Legato, Don Pennington, James Horner, and Tony Meininger) stands to this very day out as Paramount's biggest success in its entire history by far, having been the very first one in motion picture history to achieve the milestone and holding on to the record for twelve years after which it became surpassed by Fox's Avatar – incidentally and like Titanic, also directed by James Cameron. At the time Paramount had staked its very existence on the film, which was produced at a hitherto unheard-off production budget of US$200 million, and the contemporary Hollywood press speculated abundantly on the studio's demise, fully expecting the film to fail because of its tired premise. In a sense, Paramount repeated the gamble they had taken back in 1927 when US$2 million (US$28.3 million in 2018 prices) was shelled out for the production of Wings, for those times an unprecedented amount of money to spend on a film production – nor would it be the last time, as they did so again for the 1956 remake of The Ten Commandments and as indeed they would do so yet again in 1978-1979 for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (see: The Motion Picture: Costs and revenues). But like with Titanic (and The Ten Commandments for that matter), the gamble paid off as Wings became one of the very first of what was later recognized as "blockbusters". The film ran for sixty-three weeks in cinemas across the nation, [40] which is presently inconceivable, even for the very biggest of the big-budget film productions; Titanic "only" managed to run for forty-one weeks (already considered exceedingly long by that time), [41] having been the biggest blockbuster of its day, and by 2020 still holding out at third place of the all-time highest grossing films. Along with Ben Hur (1959) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2013), Titanic still holds the record of the most Academy Award winning film with eleven wins, including the one Robert Legato earned for "Best Effects, Visual Effects" and the two "Music" ones for James Horner.

Following Titanic in second place at about half the gross as the studio's most successful film is Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), and, together with its 2014 successor Transformers: Age of Extinction, the only other two Paramount films to have surpassed the US$1 billion mark as of 2020. In comparison, The Walt Disney Company, as of 2018 owner of both Lucasfilm Ltd. and Fox, has twenty-three such films they now own listed, including all the others in the US$2 billion plus bracket, whereas sibling and formerly downplayed Universal has seven; Universal and Paramount have actually switched places in the positions they originally held in the early decades, Universal being presently the "bigger" one. [42]

Since Star Trek was owned by Paramount Television, many of Paramount Pictures' classic films have been featured on, or referenced to, in the various later Star Trek shows, including I'm No Angel (1933), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Shane (1953), To Catch a Thief (1955), and Rosemary's Baby (1968). The former two are now under ownership of Universal Studios as they own most pre-1950 Paramount sound features.

Upon the acquirement of Desilu, Paramount Pictures turned two other former Desilu properties into franchises by releasing in 1987 an acclaimed feature film adaptation of The Untouchables, which was originally an older Desilu television series (also referenced on Star Trek in VOY: "Memorial" and DS9: "It's Only a Paper Moon").

But it was Mission: Impossible that truly fulfilled the hopes Paramount had for it when it acquired Desilu back in 1967. Already doing well in its original seven-season run (totaling 171 episodes), a two-season spin-of series (totaling 35 episodes) was produced in 1988, though it suffered the exact same fate the Original Series third season did through inept planning by network ABC. However, aware that Mission Impossible (like Star Trek) had for the longest of times been a sub-culture favorite, Tom Cruise convinced Paramount to initiate the development of the first of what was to become the highly successful Mission: Impossible film franchise, starring himself, as well as staking out a considerable claim in them as producer and production company. The first film being successfully released in 1996, to be followed with four others by 2015, Mission: Impossible finally fulfilled its hoped-for potential by becoming a huge and profitable franchise on its own, comparable to that of Star Trek (huge, but still smaller), having been preceded by two television series. As a franchise, Mission: Impossible's history has shared some remarkable similarities with that of Star Trek, including the split ownership issue resulting from the 2005/2006 breakup of old Viacom – see: main article. [43]

Other television series they subsequently produced included The Odd Couple, Happy Days, Taxi, Cheers, MacGyver, Wings, Frasier, 7th Heaven, and The 4400. They also continued to produce the news magazine Entertainment Tonight.

In addition to Mission: Impossible and Star Trek, Paramount Pictures also holds the rights to such successful franchises as Beverly Hills Cop, Friday the 13th, Indiana Jones, and the films featuring Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan character (The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, etc.). In 2001, Paramount Pictures relaunched itself with a new CGI logo nicknamed the "CGI Majestic Mountain."

Losing the television division[]

In 2005, following the CBS/Viacom split, Paramount Pictures purchased the Steven Spielberg's production company DreamWorks SKG (co-founded in 1994 with former Paramount executive Jeffrey Katzenberg). Yet, the split also meant that Paramount from now on was no longer a television production company for the first time in its history, in the process losing any and all title to the Star Trek television property, though retaining the right to produce Star Trek features through a license acquired from CBS.

On 8 July 2007, Paramount Pictures set the record for fastest studio to earn US$1 billion at the US box office in a single year, reaching the mark after 189 days. This is the first time they have held this record since 1998. [44] This achievement is due primarily to the success of the Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks release of Transformers, written by Star Trek (2009) scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, and has been part of the reasons why the studio has decided to give the by then near defunct Star Trek franchise another go.

The studio's 2008 slate of film releases began with the release of the J.J. Abrams-produced Cloverfield on 18 January 2008. This film, which only cost US$25 million to make, earned US$40 million at the box office in its opening weekend – the best January opening on record. It was the studio's 10th biggest opening after Shrek the Third, Transformers, War of the Worlds, Mission: Impossible II, Mission: Impossible III, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The Longest Yard, Mission: Impossible, and Deep Impact. Cloverfield broke the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend record, as well, with a four-day total of US$46 million. [45] [46] Cloverfield is also notable as the film to which the first official teaser trailer for 2009's Star Trek was attached.

Paramount's other films which opened in 2008 included The Spiderwick Chronicles, Stop-Loss, the highly-anticipated, but lukewarmly-received Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the Marvel Comics-based Iron Man, the animated Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar: The Crate Escape, The Love Guru, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Iron Man earned $98.6 million on its opening weekend, marking the studio's best opening for a live-action release. [47] In 2009, in addition to Star Trek, Paramount released films such as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (also co-written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman), Nowhereland (starring Eddie Murphy, Vanessa Williams, and Ronny Cox), and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (starring Rachel Nichols).

Paramount Studios sound stages[]

During production on Star Trek, Paramount Studios had thirty-two sound stages that varied in size from the smallest, Stage 22, to the largest, Stage 16, the former one never utilized by Star Trek. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 49)


Ekosian Chancellery

Paramount offices as the "Ekosian Chancellery"

Aside from the sound stages, several standing sets and other places located on the outdoors Paramount lot, were also utilized during the filming of Star Trek productions. The exteriors of studio office buildings were used for location shooting for TOS: "Bread and Circuses", "Patterns of Force" and "Assignment: Earth". The structure known as "B Tank" (short for "Blue Sky Tank") was used as a filming location for TOS: "A Private Little War", "The Omega Glory", Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and Star Trek: Insurrection.

Prior to 1983, the "McFadden Street" and "Boston Street" backlots were used in TOS: "A Piece of the Action", while the "European Town" back lot was used in "Patterns of Force" and TOS: "All Our Yesterdays".

On Thursday 25 August 1983, the Paramount lot was struck by a large fire, destroying most of its standing outdoors sets, including the by then fifty-six-year-old "New York Street" set. The fire occurred while Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was being filmed, and it was the fire where William Shatner had famously claimed that he had served as a firefighter. [48]

The "New York Street" backlot was newly rebuilt and extensively used for the later Star Trek television productions.

In 2016, a street on the back lot was christened "Leonard Nimoy Way" at a Star Trek Beyond fan event in memory of the actor. [49]


See also[]

Further reading regarding Star Trek studio involvement[]

Further reading general studio history[]

  • Engulfed: The Death of Paramount Pictures and the Birth of Corporate Hollywood, Bernard Dick, University Press of Kentucky, August 2001 (ISBN 0813122023)


  1. Ironically, it was the immensely popular The Lucy Show that got canceled immediately when its star performer, Lucille Ball, left the very next day, directly after the ownership transfer ceremony on the Desilu lot. Emphatically declining to work any longer on her own creation under new ownership, she immediately founded a new production company, Lucille Ball Productions, to the very specific end of producing a revamped version of her popular show, Here's Lucy, which enjoyed an equally successful six year run.
  2. Operating a fully owned national television network had not been a deep and long-held desire by Paramount alone, but by the other major Hollywood studios as well. The primary reason for this was a purely economical one; it was a means to exercise total control over the substantial and highly profitable market for time slots of advertisements and commercials in their own productions, the revenues of which then accruing directly into the studio coffers in full, instead of those of the established three national networks ABC, CBS, and NBC. While Diller failed to establish a fourth national television network for Paramount in 1977, he did so for his subsequent employer, 20th Century Fox, in 1986, whereas Lucie Salhany succeeded for Paramount where Diller had failed, by establishing a fifth national television network, UPN, in 1994.
  3. Arguably, Steel not only saved the Motion Picture, but the entire studio as well with her fund drive. Not only were US$35 million payable as damages to distributors avoided, but also the loss of the approximately same amount, already sunk in the production by then. That money had not been Paramount's own, but had been a loan from the obscure investment company Century Associates. When Charles Bluhdorn bought Paramount Pictures in 1966, the studio was in dire straits, rapidly descending towards bankruptcy. It took nearly seven years to painfully restructure the company and reverse its fortunes, and it was only by the mid-1970s that the studio became profitable again, albeit still somewhat tentatively. It was therefore that the studio still did not yet possess a war chest large enough, to fully fund their own productions on their own, when The Motion Picture came along. It would not have been the first time that a studio was killed off by an overly ambitious movie project, nor would it be the last time; previously, in 1957, RKO Pictures was terminated as an independent movie production company by its owners (some of its remnants absorbed by Paramount and Desilu, as the former RKO property was adjacent to those of both) due to the fact that John Wayne's 1956 epic, The Conquerers, failed to earn back its production budget. And only one year later, the 1980 western, Heaven's Gate, the US$44 million budget box-office disaster, ended United Artists (having only six years earlier declined to become part in the most successful media franchise of all times, Star Wars, even though they had a two-movie deal with creator George Lucas, [1]) its remnants absorbed by MGM, though keeping the name as a subsidiary division.
  4. Ironically – considering the strained relationship the studio had with the Star Trek creator – by adhering to the franchise's stipulations, these real-world "reference" works somewhat conformed to Star Trek production history as postulated by Gene Roddenberry, especially by earlier authors, who were staunch Roddenberry acolytes, Allan Asherman, Susan Sackett, J.M. Dillard, and the Reeves-Stevens author couple in particular. The interview with The Motion Picture Screenplay Writer Harold Livingston in Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 8 was heavily redacted for example, cutting out his highly troubled experiences with Roddenberry on the production. Regular magazine contributor Larry Nemecek has conceded franchise meddling with copy (source), as has Sandra Piller, widow of Producer Michael Piller, in regard to the latter's unpublished book. [2]
    Nevertheless, there was one very noticeable exception to the franchise's rule however; the 1996 reference book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, authored by Robert Justman and Herb Solow and in which a very critical account was proffered on the creation of The Original Series and on its creator Roddenberry in particular. It is somewhat of a mystery why the franchise has sanctioned the publication of such a highly "non-puffery" title, but it is conceivable they did so as it mostly pertained to the Desilu days and/or that it was a way of the franchise "to get back" at the troublesome Roddenberry.
  5. There had been earlier releases of Original Series episodes on home video film formats before, specifically the Super 8 format, but these were neither sanctioned nor licensed by the franchise.
  6. It was by no means a coincidence that Warner Bros' Babylon 5, concurrently premiering around the same time as Deep Space Nine, resembled Paramount's by then well-oiled marketing of Star Trek in more than one respect. Yet, while the Babylon 5 franchise enjoyed a considerable measure of success while its original series was produced and aired, it eventually fell apart after the failure of its spin-off series and movies, with the result that Babylon 5 had nowhere near the longevity the Star Trek franchise enjoyed. Excepting Star Wars, other science fiction franchises, very popular at the time of their production, like Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, Stargate, or Firefly have fared little better, if at all.
    Even more obscure became SeaQuest DSV of Universal Studios – which, most ironically and like United Artists, had also declined to become part of the Star Wars franchise in the mid-1970s [3] – on which Voyager production staffer Ben Betts had worked and who has confirmed, "They definitely wanted to have something like Star Trek. They wouldn't say that aloud, but that was what they were going for. They were trying to find Star Trek under water. Everything was there, except for the stories. They didn't have enough of a Human element so they'd get caught up in the technology… kind of fall back on the technology to bail everybody out by the end of the episode. It was plain as day to people working on the show. Everything was right. They were spending the money to make the graphics look good, the CGI [note: produced by Amblin Imaging, especially established for seaQuest, and later working on the CGI of the first two seasons of Voyager] looked great, the sets were well lit, they had a pretty good cast… but it didn't work. It still wasn't Star Trek. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 54)
    Yet, there actually has been one non-American, even older, science fiction/fantasy franchise that has emulated to a large extent the popularity and longevity of Star Trek, the BBC-produced Doctor Who franchise. However, due to its distinct "Britishness", the appeal of Doctor Who has remained somewhat limited to the United Kingdom and its Commonwealth, contrary to Star Trek's worldwide appeal.
  7. In full, the belligerent petition, worded in no uncertain terms, read as follows,


    We, the undersigned, do hereby issue this petition as a formal request to take immediate action with regards to the Star Trek franchise.

    The Star Trek franchise has been a profitable asset of both Viacom and Paramount. Recent facts reveal the current failing trend in this once great legacy. After reviewing all possible sources, the only logical conclusion is that the legacy of Star Trek and its creator, Gene Roddenberry, is failing due to its current leadership.
    What was once a billion dollar industry in Star Trek is now a waning interest field which the fan base may no longer wish to support because of the apparent direction (or lack of) of the franchise under its current leadership of Rick Berman and Brannon Braga.
    As the collective fan base who has supported Viacom and Paramount over the many years through their stewardship of the Star Trek franchise, and who wish to continue our support of both entities, we do hereby make the following demands:

    1) Remove the current leadership of the franchise from their positions, including Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, and their entire staff. We are not asking that these individuals have their employment terminated from the company, merely that they are removed from control of the Star Trek franchise.
    2) Place a Board of Star Trek Trustees in their place: a group of 5 individuals who can properly run the franchise in accordance with the ideals and vision of its creator, Gene Roddenberry. The identity of these 5 individuals will be determined at a later date and will be subject to the approval of both entities.
    If the above stated demands are not met, the fan base will continue to grow unhappy with the productions of the Star Trek franchise, and could begin tuning it out. Products created and marketed by both Paramount and Viacom could be devalued, and millions of people could discontinue their support of both entities.

    If the above stated demands are met, the Star Trek franchise will live on, and continue to make the entities of Viacom and Paramount money while at the same time keeping millions of fans happy.


    The Undersigned [4](X)

    Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.

    Unlike his subordinate Lansing, it is not known if Viacom CEO Redstone ever had had a personal hand in any decision making where Star Trek was concerned, but it was his co-CEO Les Moonves who ultimately gave the petitioners what they had asked for, and, in a most ironic "Be Careful What You Wish For" case, then some; In February 2005 Moonves personally cancelled Enterprise definitively, thereby terminating Star Trek prime all together as well for the time being. [5]

External links[]