STAR TREK TV Show: Skydance Execs Explain the Legal Tangles Preventing a New Series

     June 26, 2015


Ever since J.J. Abrams successfully rebooted the Star Trek series on the big screen, fans have been clamoring for a new Star Trek TV show. It’s kind of a no-brainer, but given that Trek is a nearly 50-year-old property, its rights are tangled up in a proverbial Gordian Knot that makes actually producing a new TV series very difficult. CBS owns the rights to the Star Trek TV series, but the network isn’t exactly starving for new content. It’s doing just fine with its geriatric audience that makes shows like NCIS the most popular TV series on the planet (this is true), so they’re not in a rush to develop a risky new sci-fi reboot.

But there are plenty who are enthusiastic about getting a new Star Trek TV show off the ground, including Skydance Productions CEO David Ellison and CCO Dana Goldberg, who produced Star Trek Into Darkness and are producing the upcoming Star Trek 3. When Steve recently spoke with Ellison and Goldberg during a group interview at the premiere of Terminator Genisys, the duo touched on the prospect of a new Trek TV series:

ELLISON: It’s something that we would love to be involved in. As I’m sure everybody knows, the rights situation given the CBS and Paramount divorce on the Star Trek rights is very, very complicated. The exact status of it is absolutely something being worked on. We would love to be involved, but all to be determined at this time.


GOLDBERG: You’re preaching to the converted. We would love it, both as fans and as people who would want to be involved in the making of them. We would love it. Everything you just said is right. It goes with what we were talking about before with television is you can just take more time to tell very specific stories and it would be fantastic. It’s not something we control, sadly.


ELLISON: Just for example how much we love it is when we were talking about Terminator recently and the episode we kept referencing was obviously whether or not they argue if Data actually doesn’t wanna get transferred, if he actually has a right and has free will and is a human being and switches him off. It’s amazing, the television show explored these incredibly deep phenomenal themes that we would absolutely love to do and be a part of, and we wish it was entirely up to us.


Image via CBS

Ellison expanded on the rights difficulty by discussing the longevity of Trek and making a comparison to how Skydance acquired the rights to Terminator:

ELLISON: It’s wildly, wildly complicated. Just speaking towards going to something we do control, not trying to get myself into trouble by answering this bluntly, because you said it appropriately, is the Terminator rights were scattered all over the world prior to us getting involved. And it’s when a franchise has been around for 30 or 50 years, different people make different deals at different points in time, and it really took for Terminator the previous owner actually going bankrupt and going through obviously bankruptcy court, and then even after that it took a year to clean up the straggling pieces that that process did not clean up. We’re very thankful that the rights now all revolve under our house so they are now all at Skydance so we can control all assets of the property. That’s not always the case with franchises, and when they’re 50 years old, there’s a lot of complicated deals that have been made that sometimes prevent things that might seem obvious that need to happen from happening.

With rumors swirling that CBS is taking pitches for a new Trek series there’s a sliver of hope that the new series could come along sooner or later, but it’s clearly much more complicated than simply, “Do we want to make a new Star Trek TV show?”

For more on what’s coming up from Skydance, click on the links below. Terminator Genisys opens July 1st.


Image via CBS