June 14, 2024

Crowdfunded “Trek” Film Sued by CBS/Paramount

According to Variety, the producers of the crowdfunded Star Trek film, Star Trek: Axanar, are being sued by CBS and Paramount Pictures for copyright infringement. Paramount and CBS are seeking  an injunction along with damages for direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement.

The project raised $638,471 on Kickstarter and a additional $565,531 on Indiegogo. A twenty one minute long prelude video was shot (below), which itself only cost $80,000, and boasts Battlestar Galactica’s Richard Hatch, Star Trek alums J.G. Hertzler and Gary Graham (reprising his role of Ambassador Soval from Star Trek: Enterprise), and friend of Film Dumpster Tony Todd amongst its stars.

Todd mentioned the project to us when we spoke with him last year, and we have to say, what they’ve shot so far is pretty damn impressive, which is likely why CBS and Paramount have decided to sue. There have been countless Trek fan films made in the past, but none that have come close to the quality of a studio backed film. Based on the prelude alone, a feature length  Axanar  film could definitely give Paramount a run for their money, so the studio is lawyering up. Axanar Productions and Alec Peters have been named in the suit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles. If Paramount were smart, they would let the film go into production, and give it a digital and/or Blu-Ray distribution under some sort of non-canon, fan film banner, although that will never happen. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes.

*UPDATE* 12/31/15

Here is producer Alec Peters’ response to the lawsuit,. via the film’s Facebook page: 

STATEMENT FROM ALEC PETERS, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF AXANAR

December 30, 2015

This morning, I was greeted with news that our production company, Axanar Productions and I, personally, am being sued by CBS Studios, Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corporation for copyright infringement of Star Trek.

First of all, I was disappointed to learn about this through an article in an industry trade. For several years, I’ve worked with a number of people at CBS on Star Trek-related projects, and I would have hoped those personal relationships would have warranted a phone call in advance of the filing of a legal complaint. Nevertheless, I know I speak for everyone at Axanar Productions when I say it is our hope that this can be worked out in a fair and amicable manner.

Axanar is a fan film. Fan films – whether related to Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Power Rangers, Batman or any other franchise – are labors of love that keep fans engaged, entertained, and keep favorite characters alive in the hearts of fans. Like other current fan films, AXANAR entered production based on a very long history and relationship between fandom and studios. We’re not doing anything new here.

Like all fan films, AXANAR is a love letter to a beloved franchise. For nearly 50 years, Star Trek’s devotees have been creating new Star Trek stories to share with fellow fans. That’s all we’re trying to do here.

Since the original Star Trek TV series, when the letter writing campaign by fans got NBC to greenlight a third season of Star Trek, fan support has been critical to the success of the franchise. It is the Star Trek fans themselves who are most affected here, for by suing Axanar Productions to stop making our movie and collect so-called damages, CBS and Paramount are suing the very people who have enthusiastically maintained the universe created by Gene Roddenberry so many years ago.

The fact that many of the fans involved with Axanar Productions are also industry professionals speaks volumes to the influence of Star Trek in the entertainment industry. Not surprisingly, these fans want to give something back. We’re very proud that the work we’ve done to date looks so good. That is also a reflection of the devotion of Star Trek’s fans.

Like everything related to Axanar Productions, we take this matter very seriously and remain open to discussing solutions with all parties that can be mutually beneficial.

Alec Peter

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