News

A Huge Hollywood Upheaval Could Turn Star Trek Into the Next MCU

A merger might restructure the Final Frontier.

The USS Enterprise as seen in the 2016 film 'Star Trek Beyond.'
Paramount Pictures
Star Trek
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Star Trek is one of the biggest and oldest sci-fi franchise stalwarts. By the time George Lucas brought Star Wars back in 1999 with The Phantom Menace, Star Trek was already nine movies deep, on what felt like its third reboot, and was in the middle of its fourth major TV series. Since then, the TV side of Trek has continued to diversify and grow into the 21st century, while Trek’s film output has been much smaller than it was back in the day.

Now, however, Star Trek might suddenly experience its biggest growth period yet. Thanks to a game-changing merger, it’s conceivable that a newly reborn version of the Star Trek franchise may resemble the MCU in a few years, in that its film and TV canon could become more integrated than ever before.

Skydance buys Paramount

Rob Moore, Chris Pine, and producer David Ellison of Skydance at the 2013 premiere of Star Trek Into Darkness.

Eric Charbonneau/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

According to Deadline, Paramount Global — the parent company that contains Paramount brands, including CBS, Paramount Pictures, and Nickelodeon — will soon be owned by Skydance Studios. This merger has been in progress for a while, as Paramount has essentially been looking for a buyer since 2023. Skydance, owned by David Ellison, has previously produced existing Paramount franchise movies, including several Mission: Impossible movies and two Star Trek films, Into Darkness (2013) and Beyond (2016).

This $8 billion dollar investment will put the ownership of major franchises like Spongebob and Mission: Impossible under the Skydance/Paramount umbrella, but the Star Trek franchise will probably be the most immediately impacted, as it already has at least two movies in pre-production and two live-action TV series filming or in post-production.

Will Star Trek level up?

Bones, Kirk, and Spock were looking to the future in 2016’s Star Trek Beyond. Could they return?

Paramount Pictures

While the merger’s immediate impact on Star Trek is unknown, we can take some educated guesses. Ever since J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek rebooted the movies with a new continuity, the development and stories of Trek’s movie and TV projects have remained siloed. While filmmaker Alex Kurtzman oversees all current Trek shows, and co-wrote the first two Abrams films, he has no current input on the movie side.

However, the next Trek film is thought to be a new “origin story,” which could bridge various timelines and possibly reboot the franchise all over again. At the same time, a long-waited Star Trek 4 starring Chris Pine and the reboot crew has been trapped in development hell since 2016. Recently, Pine speculated about how a hypothetical script would address the time gap between films. “I’m a lot older now,” he told Popverse. “So I would be curious where that next story lands us...”

Now that the development of CBS’ Trek TV shows and Paramount’s Trek films will effectively all be under Skydance, Star Trek films and TV shows might not be so distant from each other, and Star Trek 4 could enter development with some connections to existing shows. The dream scenario could be akin to Star Trek’s mid-’90s heyday, when TV series like Deep Space Nine and Voyager crossed over with Next Generation’s feature films, mostly notably with First Contact in 1996. This multi-pronged world-building was almost unheard of at the time, and was an inspiration for Kevin Feige’s construction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With Skydance CEO David Ellison now overseeing all of Star Trek, the franchise may regain a unified approach. As of last year, there was little reason to believe that Patrick Stewart’s hope for another Next Generation movie would actually happen. But now, suddenly, a big-screen sequel to Picard Season 3 or some kind of crossover movie between Strange New Worlds and the Abrams’ timeline crew feels way more plausible. In fact, according to TrekMovie, Ellison made it clear that this kind of franchise building was in the works: “Today Ellison also talked about unifying franchises across TV, film and interactive media, which could potentially lead to a more comprehensive Star Trek Universe.”

Star Trek’s Streaming Future

Could the Strange New Worlds crew make its way to the big screen?

Paramount+

One major question about the merger is whether Paramount+ will continue to operate as usual. As Anthony Pascale of TrekMovie pointed out in January 2024, there’s a possibility the streaming service could sell off its shows to other streamers. “If Paramount+ were shut down, the original Star Trek shows could be licensed to other streamers, as Paramount Global has already done with Prodigy, now streaming on Netflix,” Pascale wrote. “The legacy Trek shows would likely also be licensed. This move back to licensing is already happening throughout the industry.”

While having the vast majority of Trek in one home at Paramount+ is great for fans, putting both old and new Trek on Netflix could allow the franchise to expand its viewership. Strange New Worlds, for example, is beloved by Trekkies, but if Season 3 debuted on Netflix instead of Paramount+, it could evolve from a niche show into a massive hit. That said, at this time it sounds like Paramount is planning to rebuild Paramount+ while looking for licensing deals to maximize profits.

Again, this is all speculation; Skydance hasn’t announced any plans for the future of the Trek franchise. But now that the Paramount starship is refueling and re-branding, fans should expect Star Trek to begin boldly going in new directions very, very soon.

Related Tags