In advance of the July release of Star Trek Beyond, it seems Paramount is going to try to get itself beyond a serious problem it’s having with the passionate fanbase of Trekkies, and clear up a PR black eye in the process. Tonight during a Trek fan event held on the Paramount lot, Star Trek Beyond executive producer JJ Abrams announced that the studio will be dropping a contentious lawsuit against a Star Trek fan film production. “This wasn’t an appropriate way to deal with the fans,” Abrams put it bluntly, signaling a major about face and many mended fences.
The drama started December 29 when CBS and Paramount filed an infringement lawsuit against the producers of Star Trek: Axanar, a planned feature length fan film funded via Kickstarter to the tune of $638,000. Set to star Battlestar Galactic vets Richard Hatch and Kate Vernon, along with Deep Space Nine alum J. G. Hertzler and Star Trek: Enterprise alum Gary Graham, the film was supposed to go into production late last year. However, CBS and Paramount asserted the infringement of “innumerable copyrighted elements of Star Trek, including its settings, characters, species, and themes.”
Star Trek fan films have almost always been tolerated by CBS/Paramount, so long as they’re not for profit. In this instance however, the studio determined that the high level of funding for the film crossed a threshold into infringement. That didn’t sit well with Trek fans, who have been in an uproar over the fight. That uproar is of course badly timed – with Star Trek Beyond set to (hopefully) revive fan love after the mixed reaction Star Trek Into Darkness, the last thing Paramount needs is a reason for fans to simply stay away.
Fortunately, as he’s been insisting since taking the job, the fans have one of their own on the inside in the form of director Justin Lin. He was apparently instrumental in getting Paramount and CBS to change course. Said Abrams: “A few months back there was a fan movie and this lawsuit that happened between the studio and these fans, and Justin was sort of outraged by this as a longtime fan. We started talking about it and realized this wasn’t an appropriate way to deal with the fans. The fans of Star Trek are part of this world. We went to the studio and pushed them to stop this lawsuit. Within a few weeks, it’ll be announced that this lawsuit is going away.”