J.J. Abrams Planned 'Star Trek' TV Show; Rights Issues Led to Jump to 'Star Wars'?

JJ Abrams on Star Trek set

Director J.J. Abrams transformed the Star Trek property - which had been semi-dormant since the Star Trek: Enterprise TV show ended in 2005 - into a franchise with broader appeal, thanks to his movie reboot in 2009 (for better or worse). However, for many longtime admirers of the late Gene Roddenberry's allegorical sci-fi universe, Star Trek will always belong first and foremost on the small screen in the episodic TV show format (not the three-act blockbuster structure).

There have been attempts to return Star Trek to its television origins, ranging from Bryan Singer's pitched Star Trek: Federation TV show - set in the year 3000 as the Starfleet "empire" has begun to collapse - to Michael Dorn's proposed Star Trek: Captain Worf TV series (a spinoff for the Next Generation/Deep Space Nine character). Bryan Fuller (creator of Hannibal) has, likewise, expressed interest in another Star Trek TV show, but said it comes down to Abrams' purview.

An exclusive scoop from The Wrap reveals that even Abrams had plans for a new Star Trek television show, as an extension of the altered timeline continuity from his movie counterparts. The obstacle that prevented this from happening is related to licensing issues; that may have been a contributing factor in Abrams decision to jump ship (pardon the wording) and direct Star Wars: Episode VII - given the opportunities inherent to the beginning of a new era for George Lucas' mythology-inspired sci-fi juggernaut.

J.J. Abrams Enterprise bridge Star Trek Into Darkness

Abrams' vision of the rebooted Star Trek as a multi-platform experience has been partially realized, between the cinematic and digital entertainment products - including the newly-released Star Trek Into Darkness movie and Star Trek video game (read Game Rant's official review) - as well as with comic book tie-ins, such as the cannon prequel series for Into Darkness. According to The Wrap, Abrams and his Bad Robot banner had something larger in mind, but the split-up of Star Trek rights between Paramount and CBS (which has the ability to create new Star Trek TV shows) prevented that from happening.

Here is what the publication is reporting on the matter:

Much to the dismay of Bad Robot, CBS' merchandising arm continued to create memorabilia and products based on the cast of the original 1960s series and market them to Trekkies... Bad Robot asked CBS to stop making products featuring the original cast, but talks broke down over money... In response, the company scaled back its ambitions to have "Star Trek's" storylines play out with television shows, spin-off films and online components, something Abrams had been eager to accomplish.

Paramount, Bad Robot and CBS have since managed to collaborate in harmony on Star Trek Into Darkness, as illustrated by the aforementioned prequel comic books and movie tie-in video game (in addition to toys and novelizations that are based around the rebooted Star Trek continuity and characters). Moreover, Abrams is expected to continue his relationship with the franchise, as he intends to produce - and maybe even direct - the followup to Star Trek Into Darkness, after he is finished with making the seventh Star Wars live-action film installment.

JJ Abrams Star Wars Episode 7

Disney and the newly-appointed President of Lucasfilm - legendary producer Kathleen Kennedy - are reported to be designing the next generation of Star Wars by using the same blue-prints for success from the Marvel Cinematic Universe; that mean, a shared continuity between the central Episodes, the standalone films and spinoffs, new television shows, video games, novels and everything in between. If we use deductive reasoning, then Kennedy may have emphasized that idea during her month-long negotiations to get Abrams to direct Episode VII.

To quote the original report on this matter:

Jeff Gomez, CEO of the transmedia consulting firm Starlight Runner Entertainment, says there could have been so many more lucrative [Star Trek] tie-ins.

... "Right now the 'Star Trek' movies are movies," Gomez said. "There is no apparent ongoing transmedia strategy behind them, just a handful of licensing opportunities around the release of 'Into Darkness.' Why would that be attractive to an artist who sees beyond the boundaries of the silver screen to envision a true multi-platform narrative all based on a global franchise?”

Disney's plans to develop Star Wars properties that range from new amusement park attractions to TV shows - milking the property for everything its worth in order to recoup a $4 billion investment - are said to be similar to what Abrams had in mind for Star Trek. Abrams, when interviewed for Into Darkness, emphasized that he's focused on making Episode VII as good as it can be; thus, he is not actively involved with developing spinoff films right now. Nonetheless, he did not deny being aware of the larger picture, as far as the rest of the next wave of Star Wars entertainment is concerned.

J.J. Abrams Talks Star Wars: Episode VII

At the end of the day, this is (arguably) what makes Abrams a solid choice to lead the charge on the new Star Wars movies. He's not an auteur who uses beloved pop cultural properties like Star Trek and Star Wars as a means for artistic expression (a la Christopher Nolan and his Batman movie trilogy). Abrams' strength is that he knows how to surround himself with talented storytellers who can infuse his films with heart and soul - screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci on Star Trek and Michael Arndt for Episode VII - so he can focus on making everything work together (and ensure that the final product turns out nice and shiny).

However, a Star Trek television is a beast that requires the total attention and commitment from any movie/TV artist, even one as influential and far-reaching as Abrams (who can still be an executive producer). That is to say, it might be better that when the next Star Trek TV show does come together, it could result from a passionate vision (like Singer's or Dorn's) and not be a direct extension of Abrams' interest in creating a multi-platform monster.


Star Trek Into Darkness is now playing in theaters.

Star Wars: Episode VII is slated to open in theaters by Summer 2015.

Source: The Wrap

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