Paramount Dropping Lawsuit Against Star Trek: Axanar Fan Film

Axanar Star Trek Fan Film Lawsuit

Fifty years (and counting) since Star Trek first debuted on television screens and the franchise that dared viewers to "boldly go where no man has gone before" is still going. While the property has weathered its share of stumbles, five decades of Star Trek have produced more than ten big screen film adaptations as well as six television series - not to mention countless novels, comic books, audio dramas, and video games. However, much like its sister/competitor science-fiction series, Star Wars, Star Trek's success and longevity is owed to an extremely dedicated fanbase.

No doubt, plenty of talented TV and movie producers have aided in Star Trek's endurance but "Trekkies" have kept the series afloat during the numerous periods in between official projects - so much that rights-holders Paramount Pictures and CBS have often encouraged fans to develop their own corners of the Star Trek universe. This "open source" approach to fan-created Star Trek content was status quo - until the aforementioned rights-holders drew a line in the sand and filed a lawsuit against the creator of the high-profile Star Trek fan-film Axanar, Alec Peters, in an attempt to stop his project from being made. Now, nearly six months after the case was first filed, Star Trek film producer J.J. Abrams has revealed that Paramount Pictures and CBS will be abandoning the lawsuit.

Star Trek Beyond trailer and poster

Speaking to the crowd at Paramount's Star Trek fan event, where the studio debuted the second trailer for Beyond, Abrams opened-up about the lawsuit against Axanar, stating: "This wasn’t an appropriate way to deal with the fans." While it was the former Star Trek film series helmer that addressed the issue during the event, he credited Beyond's director, Justin Lin, for actually saving Axanar (indicating that it was Lin who convinced the rights-holders to stop blocking the fan project).

If you're unfamiliar with the Axanar project, check out the official story synopsis (followed by the film's short film prequel: Prelude to Axanar:

Axanar takes place 21 years before the events of “Where no Man Has Gone Before,” the first Kirk episode of the original Star Trek. Axanar is the story of Garth of Izar, the legendary Starfleet captain who is Captain Kirk’s hero. We met Garth in the third season TOS episode Whom Gods Destroy. Kirk called Garth the role model for all future Starfleet Officers. Garth charted more planets than any other Captain and was the hero of the Battle of Axanar, the story of which is required reading at the academy. This is that story. Axanar tells the story of Garth and his crew during the Four Years War, the war with the Klingon Empire that almost tore the Federation apart. Garth’s victory at Axanar solidified the Federation and allowed it to become the entity we know in Kirk’s time. It is the year 2245 and the war with the Klingons ends here.

As indicated, the lawsuit against Axanar came as a major surprise to fans last winter - and it was initially unclear exactly why Paramount Pictures and CBS had decided to attack this particular project (when action had not been taken against similar fan films). Comments from the studio stopped short of giving a specific reason but the general consensus, among fans, was that Axanar was the biggest and most complex unofficial Star Trek project to date, while pulling in loads of crowdfunding, without rights-holders approval, control, or ability to monetize from the final product. It was one thing when fan-fiction meant fun, low budget, home movies that only a few people would ever see but, for Paramount Pictures and CBS, a crowdfunded project that would cost over $600,000 and release online upon completion, was a different story - and one that would be much harder to ignore.

Check out the celebratory Tweet from the Axanar filmmakers below:

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