The Hollywood Reporter (THR) reports that CBS and Paramount have filed suit against the producers of Axanar, a Star Trek prequel, fan-funded through donations to Kickstarter and Indiegogo. According to THR, the project has raised over one million dollars, and consists of both a short, and a feature film.
The prequel is set more than two decades prior to the Star Trek original series, which starred William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. The original Star Trek debuted September 8, 1966, and ran for 79 episodes, before being cancelled by NBC. Despite its cancellation, the series remains a fan favorite, nearly 50 years after its premiere.
The producers, led by Alec Peters, aim to make a studio-quality film. As the pitch to investors put it, “While some may call it a ‘fan film’ as we are not licensed by CBS, Axanar has professionals working in front and behind the camera, with a fully-professional crew — many of whom have worked on Star Trek itself — who ensure Axanar will be the quality of Star Trek that all fans want to see.”
Paramount and CBS see a violation of their intellectual property.
“The Axanar Works infringe Plaintiffs’ works by using innumerable copyrighted elements of Star Trek, including its settings, characters, species, and themes,” states the complaint.
Axanar has become one of the biggest film projects in Kickstarter history and has been nearing warp speed with the reported help of Star Trek actor George Takei. The film mines subject area referenced in the late 1960s Gene Roddenberry television series and appears to be a prequel.
The Wrap weighs in, and includes a joint statement from CBS and Paramount:
CBS and Paramount are seeking up to $150,000 for every copyrighted “Star Trek” element present in the films.
In a joint statement to TheWrap, Paramount and CBS said:
‘Star Trek’ is a treasured franchise in which CBS and Paramount continue to produce new original content for its large universe of fans. The producers of ‘Axanar’ are making a ‘Star Trek’ picture they describe themselves as a fully-professional independent ‘Star Trek’ film. Their activity clearly violates our ‘Star Trek’ copyrights which, of course, we will continue to vigorously protect.”
Here is a description of the project from the Axanar Productions website:
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.
In early November, CBS announced it would launch a new Star Trek series in 2017. The Star Trek revival will debut on the broadcast network. The rest of the first-run episodes will only be available via the CBS All Access digital subscription service.
What do you think? Do CBS and Paramount have a case, or have they asked their lawyers to boldly go where a whole lot of lawyers have gone, before?