Warner-Paramount Merger Puts The Decade's Most Exciting Sci-Fi Franchise in Jeopardy
Massive corporate mergers are the real final frontier.
Media mergers and purchases are the dry work of executives and bankers, but they have a real impact on fans. Disney purchased Fox, and now the X-Men can join the MCU. Warner Bros. and Discovery became Warner Bros. Discovery, and now you can stream “the 90 Day Fiancé Universe” alongside the DC Universe, if you feel so inclined.
Now Warner Bros. Discovery is eyeing another merger, one that could put one of the biggest sci-fi franchises ever in jeopardy, and upend an already precarious streaming environment.
Axios reports Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount are in early talks for a merger. Warner recently finalized a merger that allowed the Discovery+ streaming service to be folded into HBO Max’s offering, leading to the platform being renamed Max. If Warner and Paramount merge, we could see Paramount+ (now officially called Paramount+ with Showtime, which really rolls off the tongue) be folded into Max too.
The biggest implications are for the shows on these platforms. Paramount has held the rights to Star Trek since television icon Lucille Ball sold Desilu Productions in 1968. The iconic franchise has enjoyed (mostly) steady leadership ever since, but a merger with a far larger company like Warner could mean a change in the creative direction of Star Trek as a whole.
The obvious precedent here is Disney’s 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm. Disney essentially hit the reset button on Star Wars in 2014, declaring reams of Extended Universe books, comics, and video games non-canonical. From there, Disney moved forward with new movies and TV shows that rewrote large chunks of the timeline. Star Wars isn’t exactly struggling to stay popular, but Disney fundamentally reenvisioned the direction of the franchise.
Since this hypothetical move is a merger, not an acquisition, one hopes the integrity of Star Trek can withstand this leadership change. But Paramount is a relatively small company here, and Warner’s last merger was not harmless to genre fans — Batgirl was infamously canceled despite being finished.
Paramount has recently ushered Star Trek into new genres and formats. The franchise is as robust as it’s been since the ‘90s, so if this merger with Warner Bros. Discovery does go through, let’s hope it works out in the franchise’s favor. After all, “Discovery” is right there in the name.