Paramount Pictures

See also: CBS Studios

Paramount Pictures Corp. (commonly known as Paramount Studios or simply Paramount), is one of the two named plaintiffs in the legal complaint against Alec Peters and Axanar Productions, producers of the short Star Trek film, Prelude to Axanar and the feature Axanar, formerly Star Trek: Axanar.

LAWSUIT PRIMER Get an overview of the copyright lawsuit, including a timeline of the case, as well as downloadable pleadings made by the plaintiffs, CBS and Paramount, and defendants Alec Peters and Axanar Productions Inc. » Lawsuit Primer

While CBS is the current copyright owner of the Star Trek brand, entitling it to production of television series based on those copyrights, Paramount holds the rights for production of Star Trek motion pictures.

Paramount and CBS are represented in the Axanar suit by the Los Angeles law firm, Loeb & Loeb, whose attorney, Jonathan Zavin, is leading the case against Axanar.

Corporate Structure

Paramount is a film studio, television production company and motion picture distributor, consistently ranked as one of the “Big Six” film studios of Hollywood. It is a subsidiary of U.S. media conglomerate Viacom. Paramount is the fifth-oldest surviving film studio in the world, and America’s oldest running studio, founded in 1912.

Paramount and Star Trek

STAR TREK logo as featured in Paramount Pictures’ Star Trek (2009) 2009 feature film reboot, directed by J.J. Abrams.

At Star Trek’s creation, Norway Productions, Roddenberry’s production company, shared ownership with Desilu Productions and, after Gulf+Western acquired Desilu in 1967, also with Paramount Pictures, the conglomerate’s film studio. Paramount did not want to own the unsuccessful show; net profit was to be shared between Norway, Desilu/Paramount, star William Shatner, and the NBC television network.

However, Star Trek had lost money, and the studio did not expect to syndicate it. In 1970, Paramount offered to sell all rights to Star Trek to Roddenberry, but he could not afford the $150,000 price ($914,000 in 2007 dollars).

In 1989, Gulf+Western renamed itself Paramount Communications, and in 1994 merged with Viacom. In 2005, Viacom divided into CBS Corporation, whose CBS Television Studios subsidiary retained the Star Trek brand, and Viacom, whose Paramount Pictures subsidiary retained the Star Trek film library and rights to make additional films, along with video distribution rights to the TV series on behalf of CBS.

The Franchise

Star Trek is considered Paramount’s most important property. Studio executives had begun to call it “the franchise” in the 1980s due to its reliable revenue, and other studios envied its “untouchable and unduplicatable” success. By 1998, Star Trek TV shows, movies, books, videotapes, and licensing provided so much of the studio’s profit that “it is not possible to spend any reasonable amount of time at Paramount and not be aware of [its] presence”; filming for Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine required up to nine of the largest of the studio’s 36 sound stages.

In 1995, Viacom and Chris-Craft Industries’ United Television launched United Paramount Network (UPN) with Star Trek: Voyager as its flagship series, fulfilling Barry Diller’s plan for a Paramount network from 25 years earlier. In 1999, Viacom bought out United Television’s interests, and handed responsibility for the start-up network to the newly acquired CBS unit, which Viacom bought in 1999, an ironic confluence of events as Paramount had once invested in CBS, and Viacom had once been the syndication arm of CBS as well.

CBS-Viacom Split

Reflecting in part the troubles of the broadcasting business, in 2005 Viacom announced that it would split itself in two, which was completed in January 2006. The Viacom Inc. board split the company into CBS Corporation and a separate company under the Viacom name. Under the plan, CBS Corp. would comprise the CBS and UPN television networks, Paramount Television, Showtime, publisher Simon and Schuster, and CBS News, among other subsidiaries. The revamped Viacom would include MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, BET and several other cable networks as well as Paramount Pictures.

In 2009, CBS stopped using the Paramount name in its series and changed the name of the production arm to CBS Television Studios, eliminating the Paramount name from television, to distance itself from the latter.

Portions of this article were adapted from the articles, Paramount Pictures and Star Trek.


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