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CBS/Viacom merger could mean big things for Star Trek and Mission: Impossible

By Christian Long

A corporate arrangement will mean Star Trek will get a new, unified Prime Directive going forward.

Earlier today, it was announced that CBS and Viacom were merging after 13 years as two separate companies. And, like Disney's recent acquisition of Fox, it brings multiple characters from the same larger franchise back together. 

According to Deadline, head of the newly-named ViacomCBS Bob Bakish told investors in a call that the corporate reunification of the two companies means that both Star Trek and Mission: Impossible have the potential to be leveraged "across all the companies' platforms."

This is particularly big news for Star Trek, which hasn't been under one roof since Enterprise concluded back in 2005. The year after that, CBS and Viacom were split into two different companies, which meant that Star Trek: Discovery couldn't use characters that appeared in J.J. Abrams' big-screen Trek outings due to licensing barriers. 

Although some of those limitations started to give way once the fourth Trek film was shelved, which allowed Mister Spock (Ethan Peck) to become one of the characters in Discovery. Similarly, it was just announced that Star Trek: Picard will bring a number of Next Generation characters back into the fold, and it seems that this could just be the beginning. 

Star Trek has already been on a development splurge of late, with multiple animated series, new Short Treks, and a Michelle Yeoh-led Discovery spinoff all in the works — and all aiming for very different audiences. Now, it seems that this ambitious reinvigoration could spill over into other avenues, including more Star Trek films (which may or may not be directed by Quentin Tarantino).  

While none of the other properties under the new ViacomCBS banner were quite as fractured as Star Trek, this new deal means the company has control over a number of beloved franchises, including Mission: Impossible, Transformers, and Kung Fu Panda. While nothing’s been formally announced, it's not hard to imagine an action series set on Cybertron or a spy series chronicling the exploits of the IMF. Not only do these franchises bring in billion-dollar box-office hauls, but they could add some real value to CBS All Access.

Also, it's no secret that shared franchises are all the rage these days, with Avengers: Endgame breaking all sorts of records for the MCU. With something like Star Trek, that dates back to 1966, it's a familiar property to countless fans across the globe that's already spawned numerous films, video games, comic books, and animated series. With no corporate obstacles to climb, the franchise seems primed for expansion.

That's a fact not lost on CBS' soon-to-be CEO Joe Ianniello, who told investors that "scale is becoming more and more important all the time," and clearly wants to help engage in further expanding Trek's entertainment thumbprint.