Richard Hatch, a star of the original Battlestar Galactica series, held a panel at San Diego Comic Con today to discuss the future of the iconic sci-fi franchise, which includes a rumored feature-film reboot. But his co-panelist, former Star Trek archivist-turned-fan-film producer Alec Peters, had other ideas, and the panel quickly turned to the topic of un-licensed fan interpretations of popular series.
While the panel was supposed to be about BSG, Peters launched the discussion with a trailer for Star Trek: Axanar, the controversial fan film which has caused legal strain between Paramount Pictures, CBS, and various Star Trek fan-film makers, Peters included.
You might wonder why a Star Trek fan film is being touted during a Battlestar Galactica panel, since they are not the same thing. At all. But Hatch is the link between the two.
Famous for playing Apollo on the 1979 Battlestar, Hatch is a long-time proponent of making a self-created direct sequel to the original Battlestar, a crusade he was on for years before the 2003 reimagining of Battlestar Galactica by SyFy and Universal. Hatch even briefly lead a boycott of the “new” Battlestar, only to be brought into the fold and actually offered a role on the show. When the new Battlestar went off the air in 2008, Hatch moved on to other projects, including playing a Klingon named Kharn in Alec Peter’s Axanar.
It’s been a weird couple of months for the lightning-rod Star Trek fan film. While Justin Lin and J.J. Abrams claimed the intellectual copyright lawsuits were going away, CBS and Paramount then released official guidelines for fan films, which only complicated everything. At the moment, Axanar isn’t out of legal hot water, but when they’re not having their day in court, they’re having their say at comic con.
“Axanar is only the beginning,” Hatch said confidently on the panel, “There has to be a relationship between fans, studios and networks.” Could this imply Hatch is planning on redoubling his efforts to launch his own “fan” made version of Battlestar Galactica? Considering his history and passions for such a project, it seems possible.
Officially, Universal is reported to be prepping a relaunch of Battlestar Galactica written by Lisa Joy, and potentially directed by Francis Lawerence of The Hunger Games. Obviously, any plans Richard Hatch might have for the Battlestar story have the same degree of connection to Universal’s reboot that Anaxar has to Star Trek Beyond; that is to say, very little. Peters told the panel that he offered to give Axanar to CBS “for free,” but the studio declined.
Axanar’s legal future is still undecided, and Richard Hatch’s plans for more BSG are unclear. Meanwhile, the simmering controversy on what constitutes the rights of fans to explore their fandom, and the rights of studios to control their properties continues to play out not only in battles in outer space, but on the floors of convention centers.