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Major Star Trek changes and crossovers are suddenly possible thanks to CBS/Viacom Merger
When Star Trek: Discovery first debuted in 2017, some Trekkies wondered if the canonical timeline was connected to the J.J. Abrams reboot movies in the Kelvin Universe. Alas, the answer was no, and for very good reasons. Discovery may have crossed into the Mirror Universe in Season 1, but it couldn’t cross into the Kelvin Universe because of legal issues. Since 2006, the rights to create theatrical Trek films and Trek TV series have been split between CBS and Paramount Pictures, a subsidiary of Viacom. But now, after 13 years apart, CBS and Viacom are re-merging, and for Star Trek, it could be the dawn of a huge crossover renaissance. Basically, this is the Star Trek equivalent the recent Fox and Disney merger. Here’s why this news should energize any Star Trek fan, plus five rad crossovers that are now possible because of the merger.
In the 1990s, Star Trek was the most influential science fiction shared universe, without a doubt. Back then, crossover from a Star Trek TV series and into a Star Trek film was not uncommon. In 1991, Leonard Nimoy played Spock in a two-part episode of The Next Generation called “Unification,” the same year that Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country hit theaters. In that film, Michael Dorn played Col. Worf, the ancestor of his character Lt. Worf on The Next Generation. In the 1996 film First Contact, Worf commands the USS Defiant, a starship from the series Deep Space Nine, because, at the time, that’s where the character lived in Trek canon. Kate Mulgrew of Star Trek: Voyager appeared as Admiral Janeway in the 2002 film Star Trek: Nemesis. It was a veritable crossover smorgasbord.
But then, after 2005, and the end of the series Star Trek: Enterprise, any depiction of that shared continuity across Trek films and TV went away, along with pretty much any new filmed Star Trek until the 2009 reboot movie. Star Trek canon didn’t go anywhere, but because of a corporate split between Viacom and CBS, the legal rights to distribute Star Trek films were retained by Paramount, and the TV rights were held by CBS. The specifics of who had what are murky (both the films and TV shows could depict the starship Enterprise, for example), but one thing was clear: The creative teams making the films and making the TV shows were separate.
This week, news broke that CBS and Viacom will merge again, and according to Deadline, new ViacomCBS chief Bob Bakish implied there are plans to leverage Star Trek across several platforms. Here’s what that could mean for fans.
(Note: The following are speculations based on the shared rights for Star Trek films and TV series. Nobody associated with ViacomCBS has indicated that any of the following are in the works.)
05. A Star Trek: Discovery- era movie featuring the Enterprise
This may seem premature to think about since Star Trek: Discovery is just about to begin its third season, but it’s not crazy to think that a film set in the Discovery timeline could happen. Right now, tons of fans want a Captain Pike, Spock, and Number One TV series starring Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, and Rebecca Romijn, but what about a movie? Now that there’s no legal problem with Anson Mount’s Captain Pike hitting the silver screen, it seems like one way to continue forward with those characters, considering the USS Discovery has left them 930 years in the past.
04. The Kelvin Universe could crossover directly with all the new shows, including Discovery, Picard, and Section 31
Because the backstory of Star Trek: Picard relies on the backstory of the 2009 Star Trek reboot — specifically the destruction of the planet Romulus — there’s already aspects of the Kelvin Universe seeping into new Trek under production already. But what if something more overt happened?
Right now, there could be a literal crossover event in which the USS Discovery used the Spore Drive to jump into the Kelvin Universe of the J.J. Abrams movies. This doesn’t mean the entire reboot cast would need to appear, but maybe some of them? Could Chris Pine cameo as Kelvin Universe James T. Kirk on Discovery? What about Zachary Quinto’s Spock popping up in a future season of Picard, visiting from the Kelvin Universe? Both of those things are now possible.
03. Deep Space Nine or Voyager Movies
Though the cast of The Next Generation made four feature films, the crews of Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise never got that chance. But now, thanks to the merger, the chances of a big-screen Deep Space Nine movie just got a lot brighter. Considering the huge popularity of DS9, and the recent documentary — What We Left Behind — it seems like a film that finally sees the return of Captain Sisko could be exactly what fans want.
02. That long-rumored Khan miniseries
Back in 2017, it was reported that legendary Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer was working on a miniseries all about Khan’s exile on Ceti Alpha V in between the episode “Space Seed” and The Wrath itself. On more than one occasion, Meyer publicly pointed out that the legal split between Viacom and CBS was the biggest barrier to this series going forward. Now that’s no longer the case, so maybe we could start screaming KHAAAAAN very soon.
01. Tons of insane crossover between new Star Trek movies and the shows we haven’t even thought of yet
Back in the ‘90s, the idea of the Defiant showing up in a big-screen movie was pretty special, but now, that could be just the tip of the space iceberg. What about a Mirror Universe movie that connects to the Mirror Universe episodes on Discovery? Could the events of Picard lead to another TNG big screen adventure? Could that hypothetical movie inform the events of other TV shows? Could we ever see more of Burnham and Spock's childhood? The fact that all of Star Trek is all in one place again means that some of the boldest ideas are surely stuff no one will see coming.