Axanar producer Alec Peters. Photo/Axanar Productions

Fact Check

Axanar's View of the State of the Suit

By Carlos Pedraza

New “Captain’s Logs” posted by Axanar producer Alec Peters paint a picture of stalled settlement talks and betrayal by the studios suing him, even after Star Trek producer J.J. Abrams and director Justin Lin proclaimed their support.

FACT CHECK is an AxaMonitor series examining claims made with regard to Axanar, chiefly Alec Peters’ blog posts, interviews and public announcements. Read the series »

Settlement Stalled

In his September 21, 2016, blog post, Peters told readers his attempts to settle the case with CBS and Paramount had so far proven fruitless:

But that doesn’t mean we won’t settle before we go to court at the end of January. All we have ever wanted to do is produce the fan film that 14,000 donors have donated to see. And so everything we do is with that in mind.1)

True or False?

TRUE Settlement Stalled. This is true, but not news. AxaMonitor had reported weeks earlier that CBS and Paramount appeared unwilling to allow Axanar to move forward under the kind of business arrangement Peters had proposed. It is also true that the parties to the lawsuit may yet reach a settlement prior to trial in January 2017, though neither Peters nor sources at CBS indicated any recent movement.

PARTLY TRUE 14,000 Donors. The actual number of donors to the production of Axanar is not known, nor is it a straightforward calculation based on publicly available data. Peters appears to base his number of the total number of donors reported by Kickstarter and Indiegogo; that number is 16,208. However, it is anecdotally documented that many donors donated more than once on both platforms. While there didn’t appear to be any independent means to confirm Peters’ claim, Axanar spokesman Mike Bawden had pegged the number in the neighborhood of 12,000. Peters’ slight exaggeration may simply be an attempt to bolster the legitimacy of his claim.

STAR TREK producer J.J. Abrams and director Justin Lin at the Star Trek Beyond event where they announced their support of Axanar.


Peters further asserted that Paramount lied to Abrams and Lin about the lawsuit “going away in a few weeks.” While he stood up for Abrams’ and Lin’s sincerity in making the claim on May 20, Peters also accused the studios of fooling Abrams:

What J.J. said was based on information he was fed by Paramount, and, shall we say, they weren’t really being up front about the status of the lawsuit. It was in Paramount’s best interests to SAY that the lawsuit was going away, because they didn”t want so much bad PR (Maybe they should have thought about that when they filed the lawsuit). But in subsequent communication with J.J., who was incredibly gracious, it was obvious he got bamboozled. We continue to support J.J. and Justin Lin and thank them for their efforts.2)

True or False?

PARTLY TRUE Paramount’s Interests. It is true that announcing a pending settlement would have served Paramount’s interests, since assuaging some fans’ concerns about the Axanar suit would likely have deflected bad public relations away from Star Trek Beyond, which was scheduled to premiere in about two months. However, Peters cannot know the substance of the conversations between Paramount and Abrams; his implication that the studio lied to Abrams is purely speculative, especially without documentary evidence of what Abrams may or may not have disclosed to Peters after these events, leaving Peters’ conclusion far from obvious.

DUBIOUS Abrams Bamboozled. While parts of these claims have been documented, just as many parts are purely speculative. Our sources confirm that Abrams was given a talking point about the lawsuit to use during the May 20 Star Trek Beyond event, namely that the parties were discussing settlement, that they were aiming to come to terms within weeks and that the studios were developing fan film guidelines. It remains unclear whether Paramount described the case as “going away,” or if Abrams himself came up with the phrase.

In any case, what’s clear is that Abrams’ statement was construed by many in the media to mean the studios planned to drop the case, a contention for which there is no evidence. One business day after the statement, however, Axanar countersued, rendering a unilateral withdrawal by the studios of the lawsuit impossible, if that had ever actually been on the table to begin with.

Next Steps

Peters noted the case had progressed into discovery and that depositions had been scheduled for October, “then we prepare for trial in January!”

Cool Things

Peters closed his log by teasing additional news but giving few details:

In the meantime, there are some pretty cool things we are doing for Axanar and one that will frankly blow you away. But we won’t be saying much about those things until we actually release them. So stay tuned!

True or False?

TRUE Trial Preparations. Peters’ description of what was to happen next in the case is largely accurate, though there are a number of additional benchmarks to pass before trial begins.

DUBIOUS Cool Things. While undoubtedly Peters has been working on something behind the scenes in the wake of the lawsuit, he has — by AxaMonitor‘s count — made similar announcements about forthcoming announcements seven times this year without following through with the promised news.

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