Alex Kurtzman shares he's pitched CBS his plan for the Star Trek universe that will last for five to ten years. The cancelation of Star Trek 4 was a massive let down for countless Trekkies all over the world. But while it could take a little while before the franchise makes its way way back on the big screen, it is thriving on the small screen with Star Trek: Discovery opening up narrative opportunities that the network is now seizing.
There is a string of new offerings on the way for the franchise. That's including the upcoming Star Trek: Picard which will see Sir Patrick Stewart reprising his role as the iconic Jean-Luc Picard. Meanwhile, an animated comedy series, as well as an animated Nickelodeon series and the previously announced Section 31 spinoff starring Michelle Yeoh's Philippa Georgiou are all in the pipeline. But it turns out, there's still more to come with Kurtzman having a blueprint for at least the next half decade.
Kurtzman sat down with Deadline's Crew Call podcast (via Trek Core) and shared his vision for the Star Trek franchise moving forward. Acknowledging that while it has an extremely passionate and loyal fanbase, they have yet to fully capitalize on the opportunity of making it accessible for all. With that in mind, the producer went up to CBS and presented them a blueprint on how they can handle the IP in the next several years to expand its following.
"I went to CBS and I said, “I think you have a universe here that is very under-utilized, and a fan base that I think is hungry for a lot more.” And I walked them through the plan of what I saw for the next five to ten years of ‘Trek.’
Part of it was, kind of, premised on the idea that it was going to take time. What I said was, “Don’t expect us to put the first thing out, and suddenly, you know, you’re have 100 million new fans. That’s not gonna happen.” ‘Trek’ has been around for too long for that to happen — but but what we do have is new generations, and what I can tell you is that ‘Trek,’ in general, finds people when they’re about between nine and twelve.
It’s never reached younger than that; it’s never tried to, and to me that’s a hugely missed opportunity, especially because what you’re really trying to do is influence hearts and minds with really positive messages — messages about who we can be as a species and as people and what our future is. So why not start young, you know? And not for a cynical reason. Not because you know, hey, let some more toys, but because if you really want ‘Star Trek’ to reach people, then you’ve got to start young."
The producer and Discovery co-creator cited Star Wars as a point of comparison with what he wants to achieve with Star Trek. Being also a fan of the franchise set in the galaxy far, far away, Kurtzman hopes to entice younger audiences by giving them a sense of wonder, the same way A New Hope did for him. And given what they're currently doing, he's optimistic that they can achieve this goal since there's steady increase in their younger fan base.
And this is where I guess the ‘Star Wars’ influence on me really mattered, because as a kid at four years old, I could imagine myself starting up with a twin suns of Tatooine and wondering what my life was. ‘Trek’ didn’t give me that same thing — it gave me Wesley Crusher, it gave me different characters, but again, those are older characters.
But we are definitely seeing just metric proof that the fan base is growing, and it’s growing younger — and yet, we’re keeping our current fans, and that’s great.
While Kurtzman didn't get into details about his plans, the upcoming projects for the Star Trek franchise lines up with his mindset in handling this universe for the next decade. Like Star Wars, they're delving into animated series that can bring in a younger audience. Depending on the kind of stories that they tackle with these shows, it is a great entry point for new potential fans, regardless of age. At the same time, they're also offering something familiar for long-time followers in Picard. Kurtzman didn't say what CBS' reaction was when he came up top them, but considering that TV Studios president David Stapf revealed last year that they're aiming to have a Star Trek TV show airing all year long on CBS Access, bolstered by the positive reception Discovery is getting, chances are that if everything goes to plan, Kurtzman can execute his plan.