The opposite of hubris

>> Saturday, April 04, 2009

SFFMedia passes along the news/non-news that Paramount has already hired the writers of the Star Trek reboot to draft a sequel despite the fact that J.J. Abrams' Trek new take on the series hasn't come out yet. I don't really mean any snark in saying "news/non-news," least of all towards the folks at SFFMedia (there's a reason they're in my RSS aggregator). It's just that this item--which is news in a way, especially to SF geeks--isn't actually the least bit surprising. Indeed, a comment Mr. Howell pulls from Variety is, for want of a better word, ironic:

"There's obviously a lot of hubris involved in signing on to write a sequel of a movie that hasn't even come out yet," [Trek co-writer Damon] Lindelof told Variety. "But we're so excited about the first one that we wanted to proceed."

Uhm. No. There is actually nothing the least bit hubristic at all in Paramount planning another film based on what is probably their single most-successful franchise of all-time. I mean, seriously? Does anybody think there won't be another Trek movie? Or that the release of another Trek movie depends in any way whatsoever on whether J.J. Abrams' reboot is as successful as it almost certainly will be?

Let's put it this way: although Superman Returns was extremely successful at the box office, it didn't make quite as many bajillions of dollars as Warner Brothers intended it to. Does anybody think Warner is going to abandon the Man Of Steel? Hell no: the only thing that's in question is whether Bryan Singer and Brandon Routh will be within twenty feet of the set when they bring it back.1 Similarly, the relative failure of Ang Lee's take on The Incredible Hulk didn't keep Universal from rebooting the reboot last year.

As far as I can tell from the SFFMedia story, all Paramount is buying right now is a script. If Abrams' Trek flops, they may still use the script, or parts of it, even if Abrams "moves on to other projects" or is "promoted" off the set much as Tim Burton was after Batman Returns turned out a little weirder and sort of less commercial than Warner Brothers apparently expected (Burton was a producer in the credits for Batman Forever, mostly, it seems, to avoid a lawsuit by honoring the letter of Burton's contract with the studio despite the fact that Burton apparently had little or nothing to do with the final product). Actually, even if Abrams' reboot does well, Paramount still might not use anything in the script they're buying.

There will be more Star Trek movies. There will always be more Star Trek movies. Star Trek has been steadily appreciating in value with few deprecations (Nemesis, Enterprise) since the early 1970s. It's part of the pop-cultural canon and evermore shall be--much like Dracula, or Sherlock Holmes, or King Kong. People who have never seen an entire episode or movie know who Captain Kirk is or what "Beam me up, Scotty" means. Paramount will milk that as long as there's a Paramount, and if there ever isn't a Paramount you can feel confident that somebody else will acquire that magic cow.

1Personally, I hope so: I was one of the people who really liked Superman Returns.


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