Last month marked 10 years since the end of Star Trek: Enterprise, and the end of a period of TV success for Star Trek that had been unbroken since Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered in 1987. Four years after the end of Enterprise, a successful film franchise reboot kicked off, one that will continue next year with Star Trek Beyond.
Next year isn’t just a year in which we get a new Trek movie, though. It also marks the 50th anniversary of the entire franchise, which remains one of the biggest and most influential science fiction properties in history, and it got that way, in the beginning, thanks to television. So, while a movie in the anniversary year is nice, many fans who grew up with Star Trek on the small screen still long for the show’s return to television, and they’re holding out hope that 2016 will be the year it happens, even though we’re now at the halfway point of 2015 and nothing’s been announced.
So, why haven’t we heard anything, and why hasn’t Star Trek been producing new television at all in the last decade? Over at Forbes, David Gonzales has a very thorough breakdown of the franchise’s big and small screen successes, as well as an explanation of the complicated rights issues that are keeping a new TV show from forming.
You should go read Gonzales’ entire piece to get the full story, but the rights issues essentially break down like this: All Star Trek TV shows since 1987 have been a collaborative effort between Paramount, who produced the shows, and CBS, who distributed them. In 2000, both CBS and Paramount Television were acquired by Viacom, and Star Trek: Enterprise lived out its run under the Viacom umbrella. Then, things got tricky.
After Enterprise ended, Viacom split into two companies: Viacom and CBS Corporation. In the process, CBS was left with Paramount Television, but Viacom got Paramount Pictures, the studio responsible for Star Trek on the big screen. So, while Paramount Pictures is cranking out Trek movies, Viacom and CBS Corp still have various rights knots to untangle before either of them (or both of them collaboratively) can bring the property back to TV. As Gonzales points out, though, the two companies have the same majority shareholder, and that combined with a common interest in making money off a proven franchise could bring them both to the table to make this happen.
If it is going to happen, though, it needs to happen fast. Hopefully, it’s happening even now, and someday soon we’ll get an announcement of a brand new Star Trek series. Keep your fingers crossed, Trekkies.