Remember that Star Trek: Axanar lawsuit we mentioned a while back? The one that could potentially have had a chilling effect on fanfic, not to mention other fan films and creative efforts? Well, good news: thanks to the efforts of past Trek film director J.J. Abrams, and upcoming Trek film director Justin Lin, Paramount says it’s going to drop the lawsuit.
Abrams and Lin feel that fans should be celebrating Star Trek, not at odds with the studio who owns it. And, speaking more cynically, they probably also recognized that it wouldn’t be a good thing for the future of the franchise to get fans angry enough that they boycott the upcoming Trek film, Star Trek Beyond—especially after the last Trek film, Into Darkness, annoyed a number of fans already with its treatment of long-time villain Khan Noonian Singh.
Meanwhile, the studio behind Axanar released a statement saying they’re grateful for Abrams’s and Lin’s support, but the suit hasn’t been dropped yet and they want to work with CBS and Paramount to make sure “all matters are settled.” Whether that means they might make changes to the forthcoming film to make it less overtly “Trekky” is unclear.
It’s also unclear whether Paramount will simply wait a few months until Beyond is out of theaters and Axanar is released and refile the suit then. Let’s not forget that Axanar is seen by some as a violation of the unwritten contract between fan film producers and Paramount that Paramount won’t get on their case if they don’t profiteer on their work. Raising over a million dollars on a Kickstarter campaign and using that money to pay salaries and fund a professional film studio that will make other works after Axanar seems more than a little iffy from a “no-profiteering” proposition.
But at this point, the Axanar lawsuit was something on the order of a Kobayashi Maru for Paramount—a classic no-win scenario. If they let it pass, they risked setting a precedent that would let others fund their own quasi-professional “fan films” that could endanger their Star Trek intellectual property ownership. If they carried on with the lawsuit, they would anger fans and risk diminishing the value of the latest installment of that intellectual property. It was simply a question of choosing the least bad outcome—and at this point, with a new multi-million-dollar Trek movie in the offing, it’s clear which value is worth more to them to protect right now.