It seems like Star Trek was the original multimedia, multi-channel experience. The TV show spawned short stories and a cartoon before movies and spin-off shows, books, comics and cons propelled it into the pop culture touchstone it is today.
With over 50 years of history from a show that originally only ran for three seasons, it feels strange to see such a power brand brought so low. The ongoing struggle to get another movie to the big screen just adds to that.
Ten movies in a very modest budget range, the majority being between $20-$40m, meant returns were good and solid if not spectacular. They always did good business on rental, TV and with merchandising.
Then Hollywood budgets in general became inflated. The Star Trek movies followed suit when JJ Abrams was hired to turn a much loved IP into a mega franchise with a $140m budget in 2009 and nearly $200m for the follow up, Star Trek Into Darkness.
The issue? The elephant in the room at all times in today’s market. The mega-franchise. Marvel, Star Wars, Bond. Even the DCEU or Mission: Impossible are many sequelled with built in brand recognition. If a brand doesn’t make mega-franchise money on a mega-franchise budget then it has no place in today’s Hollywood.
Unfortunately Star Trek just doesn’t make the hurdle rate for box-office returns.
Now in a candid interview with Games Radar, Scotty actor Simon Pegg has confirmed this is Star Trek’s fate:
“The fact is, Star Trek movies don’t make Marvel money. They make maybe $500 million at the most, and to make one now, on the scale they’ve set themselves, is $200 million. You have to make three times that to make a profit.
I don’t feel like the last one… They didn’t really take advantage of the 50th anniversary. The regimen at the time dropped the ball on the promo of the film. And we’ve lost momentum. I think losing Anton [Yelchin] was a huge blow to our little family, and our enthusiasm to do another one might have been affected by that. So I don’t know.”
Given the news that Noah Hawley’s planned Star Trek movie is now not moving forward, and leaks from inside ViacomCBS that they are seriously unhappy with Star Trek performance on the small screen too, one wonders where next for this venerable franchise?