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Paramount Pictures

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Paramount's centennial logo

Paramount Pictures is the film production and distribution company that formerly owned the Star Trek franchise and which still holds the rights to the Star Trek feature films. Paramount is owned by the current version of the media conglomerate Viacom, which is in turn controlled by National Amusements.

Brad Grey, previously a television producer, is the current CEO. It is his intention to establish Paramount as a leading media company again, willing to take risks and lure creative talent back. As part of this venture, he lured Gail Berman (one of the original producers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) into the corporate offices as President.

Paramount Pictures has, for decades, operated its own theater, the Paramount Theatre of the Arts (notice British spelling), currently located at 2025 Broadway Oakland, California, for premiere viewings of its productions.

History with Star Trek Edit

Paramount formally acquired the Star Trek franchise on 27 July 1967 when Lucille Ball's Desilu Studios, the company producing Star Trek: The Original Series (as it was later coined, but then still officially known as simply Star Trek), was purchased for US$17 million dollar by Gulf+Western, which owned Paramount at the time. Paramount Pictures at that time operated its own, hitherto insignificant, television production department, into which Desilu was incorporated to form Paramount Television, through which it now produced and owned the Star Trek television series. As a result of Gulf+Western's purchasing of Desilu, Paramount not only came into ownership of Star Trek, but acquired, aside from the ones that were no longer produced, the three other Desilu television shows that were in production at the time, Mission: Impossible (referenced on Star Trek), Mannix and The Lucy Show, as well. It were actually these three productions, considered hugely successful at the time, that Paramount was particularly interested in, not Star Trek, which was essentially thrown into the deal.

Paramount, which came under ownership of the former Viacom when that company took over the remnants of Gulf+Western in 1994, produced and distributed all Star Trek films and television shows from 1967 through 2016 (Star Trek Beyond), leaving the first season and the two preceding pilot episodes of the Original Series, the sole exceptions.

Syndicating Star Trek: The Original SeriesEdit

Viewed as a commercial failure at the time, Gulf+Western actually wanted to exclude Star Trek from the purchase deal initially, or as then Desilu executive Herb Solow had later put it, "Paramount didn't want Star Trek, because it was losing too much money each week and didn't have enough episodes to syndicate successfully. That was a wise business decision at the time." Yet, Lucille Ball only wanted to sell her company wholesale, lock, stock and barrel, forcing a reluctant Paramount to also accept the legal liabilities of the unwanted property. (NBC: America's Network, p. 218)

One week after the acquisition, alarmed by his financial auditors, Gulf+Western founder, co-owner, president and driving force behind the acquisition, Charles Bluhdorn, called one of Desilu's former negotiators, Ed Holly, utterly aghast. Holly recalled, "Just a week or so after the merger, when Bluhdorn had started seeing the cost figures, he called me in the middle of the night. All I heard was 'What did you sell me? I'm going to the poorhouse!' I said, 'Charlie, you must be looking at Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. Those shows are costing almost to the dollar what our projections showed they would cost. You and your people made the judgment that that was all right." (Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, 1994, pp. 297-298) Not in the least reassured by Holly, Bluhdorn decided to visit the set of Star Trek in person to witness a day of production for himself. Finding it an underwhelming experience, what he saw on that day made him highly skeptical, but, even hough it was his prerogative as the temporary chairman of the board of Paramount Pictures, he stopped short of actually ordaining the series' cancellation[1]. Instead, he had a small army of Paramount and NBC financial executives and accountants descend on Star Trek to go through the finances of the production with a fine comb, which inevitably resulted in more severe budget slashes and creative meddlement from the uninitiated. This turned out to be the reason for the subsequent departure of the driving forces behind the show, Solow, and the producers Gene Roddenberry and, at a later stage, Robert Justman. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, pp. 360-et al.) This circumstance only served to reinforce the decision to cancel Star Trek as soon as possible at the time, which – even though NBC and Gulf+Western financial experts, balking at the by them perceived too high production costs, were already pushing for it directly upon the acquisition – was ultimately a call made by television network NBC at the end of the series' third season, reportedly leaving the entire production at US$4.7 million in debt. (Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry, p. 399) Since, due to original contractual obligations, net profits (non-existent at the time) had to be shared between the studio (26⅔%), Roddenberry's production company Norway Corporation (26⅔%), performer William Shatner (20%) and NBC (26⅔%), Paramount went even as far as offering Roddenberry in 1970 the opportunity to obtain the Star Trek property he had created for US$100,000-$150,000. Roddenberry however, was nowhere near able to raise this amount on his own, and the property remained were it was, which turned out to be fortuitous for the studio as, again as per Solow, "History would show that Gulf & Western's purchase of Star Trek alone, the low-rated, money-losing second-year series on NBC, would become one of the most spectacular business moves in entertainment history." (NBC: America's Network, p. 220)

Yet, very shortly after the studio had made Roddenberry the offer, Paramount found that its hot potato was quickly turning into a hot property due to its huge and unexpected success in syndication in the early 1970s. In effect, the very first time Paramount sold syndication rights was already in 1969 while the third season was still being aired on NBC. The buyer, Kaiser Broadcasting (which operated a small chain of local television stations along the West, and East Coast), immediately started to broadcast Star Trek after NBC had canceled the series on a daily basis and, much to their delight, observed a steep rise in viewership and ratings, the latter identified in Star Trek-lore as the reason why the Original Series was canceled by NBC in the first place. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, pp. 417-418) The phenomenon was not lost on other local television stations, and thus the spectacular resurgence of Star Trek in syndication started. By early 1987, when a new television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, went into pre-production, Variety magazine of 2 December 1991, was able to report that the Original Series had by then netted the studio already over US$1 million dollar per episode in domestic syndication fees alone – and thus excluding the by then substantial sales revenues abroad, as well as those stemming from home media format, and affiliated merchandise sales. Considering the average production cost of US$190,000 per episode, this turned out to be a more than healthy return on investment, especially since Paramount had not borne the costs of the, relatively most expensive, first season of a production that was essentially thrown into the deal (any Desilu book losses in regard to the Star Trek production, would have been accounted for in the purchase price paid by Paramount), arguably for almost free, as Susan Sackett, Roddenberry's personal assistant, had dryly noted that it was NBC which had borne most (but not all) of the production costs (also explaining why there had been NBC financial experts present in the first place at the due diligence audit back in 1967), not Paramount. (Starlog, issue 43, p. 14)

Now the truly ugly side of doing business in Hollywood came to the fore in full force, as it became concurrently known that the studio had shortchanged at least one of its other stakeholders, Roddenberry, who was still legally entitled a full one third of the net profits (in exchange for surrendering any and all other legal title to the series, save for his "Created By"-credit, according to James Van Hise). Roddenberry was by 1981 perpetually led to believe by the studio that the Original Series was still deeply in the red by as much as US$1 million dollar – or US$500,000 by 1982, again according to Van Hise (The Man Who Created Star Trek: Gene Roddenberry, p. 58) – as supposedly "proven" by doctored account statements handed over to him. Roddenberry instructed his attorney, Leonard Maizlish, to start legal proceedings in order to be given access to Paramount's records, seemingly to no avail initially. "The greatest science fiction in show biz is in the accounting", Roddenberry declared chagrined, referring to the infamous "Hollywood accounting" industry phenomenon.[2] (Starlog, issue 43, p. 14) Roddenberry had reasons to be suspicious, as it seemed unlikely that the by 1987 reported net syndication profit of US$78 million dollar was only realized in the intervening six years. While it was at the time unknown what the outcome of the legal proceedings were, it should be noted that it was around this time that Roddenberry entered into his below-mentioned advantageous (financially that is, creatively it was an altogether entirely different matter) movie deal with the studio; It was conceivable that Roddenberry and the studio settled their Original Series accounts on that occasion, as Roddenberry became an affluent man from then on. That this was indeed the case came to light in 1994 when it was revealed that the studio disbursed US$5.3 million in profit distribution to Roddenberry between June 1984 and July 1987. [7]

Launching the Star Trek movie franchiseEdit

As if to underscore Roddenberry's suspicions, Bluhdorn himself had by 1974 completely reversed his stance from the one he had back in 1967, and had by now become enamored with Star Trek due to its huge and unexpected success in syndication, embracing the property as something of a pet project. It was therefore, after he had been presented by a subordinate, Paramount's then chief financial officer Arthur Barron, with the idea of turning Star Trek into a movie, that he gave Barry Diller, freshly appointed in October 1974 as the new studio head, as one of his consignments, to turn the idea into a project. Not particularly interested in doing Star Trek in any format whatsoever and, by any standard, a formidable executive himself, Diller nevertheless did not want to repeat the mistake his immediate predecessor Frank Yablans made by antagonizing his new boss and his new-found infatuation with Star Trek and set to work. (The Keys to the Kingdom, Chapter 5)

As it turned out, Roddenberry had already approached the studio with a pitch for a Star Trek movie one year previously. Then Paramount President, Frank Yablans, was very interested, but due to Roddenberry's obtuseness at the negotiation table, the proposition fell through. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, 1997, pp 420-421) Despite the failure of the negotiations, Yablans' interest in producing high-tech science fiction was peaked nevertheless and to this end he facilitated and arranged the funding for the establishment of two Paramount visual effects subsidiaries, Douglas Trumbull's Future General Corporation (FGC) and Carey Melcher's Magicam, Inc, a very short time thereafter. [8] Unfortunately, his immediate successors, Barry Diller and Michael Eisener, had zero affinity with science fiction and none whatsoever with visual effects in particular, and tried to shut down FGC immediately upon their ascent, which came back to haunt the production later on. [X]wbm Yablans however, had failed to inform his boss of Roddenberry's prior overtures, and Bluhdorn perceived this as part of Yablans' overall lack of respect for him, which shortly thereafter led to his downfall. Barron incidentally, had approached Bluhdorn on his own accord. (The Keys to the Kingdom, Chapter 5)

Still, getting Star Trek off the ground again as a new live-action production turned out to be not as straightforward as it originally sounded, and for three years the project stubbornly refused to come into fruition. However, when Diller thought up a fourth television network for the company, Paramount Television Services, officially announced on 10 June 1977, he intended Star Trek to serve as its flagship as a new television series, Star Trek: Phase II (or Star Trek II as its official title was to be). Fully endorsed by Bluhdorn, who sensed an even more profitable repeat performance of the property, actual production of a new live-action production was finally started the same month. His initial enthusiasm notwithstanding, Bluhdorn soon found out that America was not yet ready for a fourth television network, informed as such by then Vice President of Research Mel Harris, as advertiser's interest did not materialize and he already pulled the plug on the network project near the end of July. Still, he allowed the production of Star Trek to continue, which was, aside from his own personal interest, in no small part due to the desire not to loose development costs already sunk in all previous revitalization attempts. Star Trek: Phase II eventually morphed into Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which was officially announced by the studio on 28 March 1978 to the public at Paramount Pictures in the largest press conference held since Cecil B. DeMille's announcement of his 1923 silent movie, The Ten Commandments. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, pp. 50-51).

Partly due to the studio's hitherto utter lack of experience with a technically complex and visual effects heavy productions of this magnitude, the production of The Motion Picture proved to be exceptionally difficult, troublesome, frustrating and, for those times, extremely costly, the latter in no small part due to the studio's mishandling of the visual effects production. As a result, Diller and his executive subordinates (close to nervous exhaustion) were bracing themselves for a financial disaster, which fortunately for them did not materialize. Immensely relieved of having dodged the financial bullet, Diller and his colleagues counted their blessings and were fully prepared to move on, entirely willing to leave Star Trek behind them. Yet, Bluhdorn was of different mind and ordered the development of sequels shortly after the premiere of The Motion Picture in early 1980. Bluhdorn personally selected Harve Bennett who would head, as executive producer, the production of the subsequent four Star Trek films, of which two, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, were to become particularly successful.

For all intents and purposes, it was therefore Bluhdorn, who was responsible for the creation of the Star Trek movie franchise. (The Keys to the Kingdom, Chapters 5-7) For a more detailed treatise on the difficult birth of the movie franchise, please refer to: Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Production

Gene Roddenberry however, indeed responsible for some (but not all) production troubles, was by the studio increasingly perceived as very difficult to work with and was essentially removed by them from creative control over the movie, halfway through the production. Actually, Diller had already removed him once entirely from one the the previous revitalization attempts, Star Trek: Planet of the Titans. While the studio, as far as they were concerned, had seen the very last of Roddenberry, the realization also sunk in that by now, no Star Trek incarnation could ever be produced without the Roddenberry name attached to it while he was still alive, due to his by now firmly established stature in the general populace's awareness as the creator of Star Trek, strongly backup-ed by a small, but highly vocal hardcore of the more puritanical Trekkies. Adhering to the old adagio "keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer", the studio came up with a crafty solution to the conundrum; Roddenberry was "bumped upstairs", given his own office at the studio with a handsome remuneration and given the formal title of "Executive Consultant", which meant that directors and creative staff could ask for his opinion on the project, though with the proviso that his advice was not needed to be taken. Required by the agreement to be kept in the loop, but lost in the studio's equivalent of the "Bermuda Triangle", no one ever thereafter heeded Roddenberry's copious, but unsolicited, advise for the subsequent five movies, nor did anyone even bothered to consult with him. Though for the studio perhaps a costly solution, it was far cheaper than to be bogged down by incessant lawsuits, which were sure to follow given Roddenberry's character, and dealing with the fallout from the Star Trek fanbase, which was equally sure to follow, and the resulting negative publicity. Still, this did not prevent Roddenberry in the slightest to relentlessly harass studio and production staff alike, on occasion even going as far as threatening with legal actions as Actor/Director William Shatner and Director Nicholas Meyer could attest to. The latter was bluff however, as the stipulations of his studio contract gave him no legal grounds, and no legal proceedings ever materialized during this period in time. (William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge; From Sawdust to Stardust, pp. 240-241; Star Trek Movie Memories, pp. 99, et al.)

While acknowledging this state of affairs as "speculation", an opposing view was proffered by authors Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, who have claimed in their reference book Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission (page 3) that, "(t)he real reason for Paramount's concern about keeping Roddenberry tied to each Star Trek film was that every executive involved with the productions shared the maddening knowledge that no one had the slightest idea why Star Trek was a success...except Gene Roddenberry. Without his input, there was always the chance that the next movie wouldn't capture whatever it was that made Star Trek so enticing." While staunch Roddenberry supporters Reeves-Stevens' did have a point where the studio executives themselves were concerned, their assertion was certainly contradicted by the directors, producers and screenwriters (most notably Spock Performer/Writer/Director Leonard Nimoy, who most definitely had a thorough understanding of what made Star Trek "tick", arguably even more so than Roddenberry himself did) of the subsequent five movies, all of them, save Shatner's Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, highly successful and produced without any creative input from Roddenberry whatsoever, and each of them actually opposed by him in varying degrees of vehemence.

Creating an overall Star Trek franchiseEdit

For all the troubles The Motion Picture represented for the studio as far as the production itself was concerned, it also represented the birth of the modern moneymaking property the studio was to eventually refer to as "The Franchise". Responsible for this was Vice-president of Marketing and Licensing, Dawn Steel, who was charged with coming up with an additional revenue stream after the February 1979 visual effects crisis, which had left the Motion Picture production in a critical situation, as there was no more money left to complete the movie. She did so by organizing a vigorous merchandising and licensing fund drive, which climaxed in a highly imaginative presentation, held in the largest theater on the Paramount lot. A resounding success, the presentation was met with rambunctious enthusiasm by the attending prospective licensee companies. "It was the most unbelievable party Paramount ever had.", attending studio producer, Brian Grazer, remembered, to which then novice studio producer Jerry Bruckheimer has admiringly added, "She went to conventions and got every toy-maker, anyone who made T-shirts and key chains and raised every nickel she could. She shook the trees. There hasn't been that energy vortex in merchandise since she left.". Numerous companies signed up, including, at the time, unusual ones such as food industry corporations like Coca-Cola and McDonald's. The presentation marked the first time for Paramount that licensing revenues were generated, before a production had premiered. The successful fund drive made Steel's name in the motion picture industry, and a thoroughly impressed Paramount CEO Michael Eisner, who was (in)famous for not being easily impressed, promoted her the next day to vice-president of productions in features, getting her off to a stellar industry career. She had been working in the licensing department for less than six months. (New York Magazine, 29 May 1989, p. 45; 6 September 1993, p. 40; Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History, pp. 108-109)

For obvious reasons, Hollywood studios had, and to this day, have been exceptionally loathe to divulge particulars surrounding their revenue streams stemming from licensing and merchandising efforts, Star Trek not excepted. However, Steel, due to the unexpected and exceptional success of her 1979 fund drive, had understandably been somewhat more loose-lipped, unable to resist some bragging at the time. Revealing in January 1980 that General Mills featured Star Trek artwork on 37 million of their cereal boxes, McDonald's had spent US$20 million dollar on TV adds to promote 50 million Star Trek themed "Happy Meals", and that Bally had by that time already totaled up a sale of US$19.5 million of US$1.795 apiece Star Trek themed pin-ball machines, alone, she divulged that by that time she expected that at the most conservative estimations, licensed Star Trek related merchandise would at least amount to US$250 million dollar, with the possibility to reach double that. "Licensed children's merchandise is the last category to suffer in a recession: Dad will give up his suits, but his kids will still get toys and clothes.", she clarified, adding, "Our fee ranges from one to 11 percent, depending on the product." This statement indicated that the studio was to receive at the very least US$2.5 million, or at the very most US$55 million dollar in licensing and merchandising revenues, though it was unlikely that the upper estimate was ever met due to the mixed reception of the movie and the somewhat disappointing sales of related merchandise. (Playboy magazine, January 1980, p. 310)

Concurrently, parent company Gulf+Western, through Bluhdorn, had commissioned the development of an accompanying, The Motion Picture-themed, book line through subsidiary Pocket Books, which it had acquired in 1975 (and therefore a sister company of Paramount Pictures), and from here on end merchandising and licensing became an integral part of a proactive overall marketing strategy (considerably hammered out by Frank Mancuso, Sr., who was hired as the department's president after Steel had left), in the creation of a sustained Star Trek product line. [9]

Relaunching the Star Trek television franchiseEdit

The continuing success of the syndicated Original Series, now augmented with three successful theatrical movies (even The Motion Picture turned out to be far more profitable than the studio initially led to believe – see: Star Trek films: Performance summary) and with a fourth movie and the 20th anniversary of the franchise coming up, enticed now Paramount Television Group President Mel Harris to decide that it would be an opportune time to launch a brand new Star Trek television series, especially since the fourth movie, The Voyage Home, soon proved to be exceptionally successful. To this end he instructed in mid-summer 1986 his subordinate, Paramount Network Television President John S. Pike, to develop what was to become The Next Generation. Initially, the studio wanted to proceed without Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, which was, aside from his notorious eccentricities, partly due to his failing health. Nevertheless Pike, heeding his movie predecessor's considerations, decided to bring him in on 12 September 1986, this time in an active executive producer role. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, p. 7) Unfortunately, Roddenberry's eccentricities, aggravated by ill health and his notorious attorney Leonard Maizlish, soon reasserted themselves yet again, turning the production of the first two seasons of the new series into a repeat performance of what had happened during the production of Star Trek: Phase II - The Motion Picture.

In an ironic repetition of what Herbert Solow had to go through twenty-two years earlier, Pike had a tough time selling the series to the networks, as interest in science fiction for television was at an all time low at the time (after The Next Generation started its run, it was for years the only new science fiction series being aired). Most ironically, it was future Paramount President Brandon Tartikoff who declined to buy the series for NBC, which he headed at the time; in 1965 NBC had bought The Original Series. Pike was down to his last option, Fox Broadcasting Company (which, again ironically, was established by Barry Diller, now succeeding where he had failed for Paramount in 1977 in establishing a fourth television network for which Star Trek: Phase II was slated to serve as flagship), finding it interested, but only wanting to commit to a half season of thirteen episodes at an offer that was nowhere near enough to cover the projected budget of US$1.2 million dollar per episode for a full season. For the briefest of times it appeared that the new Star Trek television series appeared to have died before it even had been born, when Pike was approached by his colleague, Paramount Domestic Television President Lucie Salhany. (William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge)

Salhany convinced Pike to produce the new series for direct syndication, an entirely novel idea at the time, ensuring him she could sell a full season of twenty-six episodes. Taking her cue from the syndication history of the Original Series, Salhany reasoned that even if the new series did not turn in a profit in first syndication run, the studio should still take its losses on this occasion, as subsequent runs would, not to mention the future revenues from associated sales, such as merchandise, home media formats, foreign sales and the like. Even more novel was Salhany's idea to offer the first syndication run of The Next Generation for free, in exchange for control over the seven-minute advertisement blocks. In order to manage financial risk, the studio green-lighted a half season run of thirteen episodes, packaged with Original Series episodes (which were to be paid for by networks) was proposed to see if interest, especially from the side of advertisers obviously, in the new series would materialize, to continue production if it did. Subsequent events proved Salhany's hunch correct. In ultimately doing so, Star Trek again made television history. Mel Harris officially revealed the news of a new Star Trek television series on 10 October 1986. Despite a troubled and rocky production during its first two seasons, The Next Generation went on to arguably become the most successful outing in the television franchise. (William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge; Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, pp. 5-7, 11)

As if to underscore that Salhany's hunch was a correct one, the first season finished with a 10.6 Nielsen rating, representing 9.4 million households, ranking first in the 18-49 age group, being the prime demographic group sought by advertisers. While the first season was running, it was already sold to eight European and Asian countries, albeit for a limited run initially and reflecting the studio's thirteen-episode trial run. Additionally, by the start of the series' first summer hiatus, a domestic sale of US$2 million dollar had already been realized in VHS tape sales, which only comprised the first four-six episodes at the time. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2003, p. 32)

For a chauvinistic, male-dominated industry as Hollywood was at the time, it was ironic that Star Trek was effectively saved for a second (or third, if one is to include Dawn Steel's crucial contribution for The Motion Picture) time by a woman, as Salhany's namesake, Lucille Ball, had already done so in February 1966 for the Original Series.

Unlike its original television predecessor, the series became profitable while it was still in production. On 21 January 1993, the studio declared The Next Generation "in the profit", and announced profit distribution to start the following month. Exceptionally pleased with the result, Mel Harris, in a for the studio uncharacteristic and unprecedented stance, became a Roddenberry supporter (in public at least) when he stated, "In the period since 1987 no other program has been able to get anywhere near ['TNG']....It's primarily because of the program that was created....[I]f this hadn't been created in the way that it was by Gene Roddenberry, it probably wouldn't be on the air today and it certainly wouldn't be performing as it is." If Harris' praise had been genuine, then it was obvious that he had not been present on those occasions when his subordinate John Pike had to deal with Roddenberry. Pike has had his share of run-ins with Roddenberry. (William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge; [10])

Post-Next Generation productionsEdit

The late Brandon Tartikoff, now chairman of Paramount Pictures in 1991 and 1992, during The Next Generation's fifth and sixth seasons, was deeply impressed with the success of the six (at the time) Star Trek films and The Next Generation, and it was he, in a complete reversal of the position he had six years earlier, who initiated and authorized the creation of a third live-action Star Trek series to launch into syndication, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. (Trek: The Unauthorized Behind-The-Scenes Story of The Next Generation; DS9 Season 1 DVD-special feature, "A Bold New Beginning")

By this time the studio's stance and attitude towards Star Trek had radically changed from the one it had back in 1967, as author Stephen Edward Poe observed two years later when he resided at the studio on an extended stay in order to chronicle the genesis of the fourth live action Star Trek series, Star Trek: Voyager. Poe noticed that studio employees, executives included, were almost unanimously and reverently referring to their Star Trek property as "The Franchise" due to its reliable and consistent revenue stream, having been from the mid-1980s through the 1990s Paramount's most profitable property, much to the envy of industry competitors[3]. (Star Trek: Voyager - A Vision of the Future, pp. 50-51) Reporter Mark A. Altman disclosed that the entire franchise had already passed the US$1 billion dollar mark in total studio revenues by 1993 (Cinefantastique, Vol 24 #3/4, p. 16), which was upped to US$2 billion gross in Entertainment Weekly's Special Star Trek Issue of 18 January 1995. Voyager itself was actually conceived to serve as the flagship of Paramount's second attempt of operating a television network, established in 1994 as United Paramount Network (UPN) by Lucie Salhany. Salhany had previously been recruited in 1991 by Barry Diller to head the by him established Fox Broadcasting Company, but returned in 1994 to Paramount to succeed where her former boss had failed back in 1977. [11] Unlike its unsuccessful 1977 predecessor, UPN fared somewhat better, only ceasing to exist in 2006, after it had aired the fifth live action Star Trek series, Star Trek: Enterprise.

Paramount Television remained a dependent division of Paramount Pictures until 2006. In January 2006, the former Viacom was split into two separate, independent companies: CBS Corporation and a new Viacom. CBS Corporation was given ownership of Paramount Television, which was renamed CBS Paramount Television, currently known as CBS Television Studios, and thus gained ownership of the Star Trek franchise and television series, while Paramount Pictures, now part of the new Viacom, retained the rights to the Star Trek films through a license from CBS Television Studios, which remained the sole entity holding the copyrights to the Star Trek franchise.

More recently, Paramount Pictures had finished developing the 2009 feature film Star Trek and its 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, directed and produced by J.J. Abrams. The next Trek project is the 2016 sequel Star Trek Beyond.

Studio executives actively involved with Star Trek productions Edit

(Note: This list is currently incomplete.)

In the list below, the name of the executive producers for any given production is also mentioned after its title. Formally, they are not part of the studio executive staff, but the creative managerial heads of the actual productions, and as such officially credited, which studio executives – Original Series executives Bill Heath, Herb Solow, Douglas S. Cramer and The Motion Picture's Lindsley Parsons, Jr. being the notably sole exceptions – are traditionally not. Yet, they do serve as the primary liaison between the actual productions and the studio oversight and consequently, they are answerable to studio executives. Note that even the highest Paramount executives had bosses; Diller, for example, was answerable to Gulf+Western President Bluhdorn, who, while relatively far removed from the production, did make some momentous decisions concerning the Star Trek movie franchise, as related above, aside from being responsible for acquiring the franchise for Paramount in the first place. Also listed are the executives involved with the Star Trek television franchise, since these productions were until 2006 part of Paramount Pictures, as explained above.

note: Executives listed in order of hierarchy

Historical overview Edit

Founded by Adolph Zukor in 1912, Paramount Pictures is America's second oldest, still-operating, motion picture studio behind Universal Studios. Its logo – the highly-recognizable, majestic Paramount mountain – has been part of the company from the beginning, thus making it the oldest surviving Hollywood film logo.

Paramount Pictures was the company responsible for the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, the silent 1927 World War I picture Wings. Since then, Paramount has produced the Academy Award-winning films Going My Way (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), The Godfather (1972), The Godfather, Part II (1974), Ordinary People (1980), Terms of Endearment (1983), Forrest Gump (1994), Braveheart (1995), and Titanic (1997). Among the other acclaimed films they have produced are Double Indemnity (1944), Stalag 17 (1953), The War of the Worlds (1953, based on the book by H.G. Wells), The Ten Commandments (1956), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Chinatown (1974), Saturday Night Fever (1977), Grease (1978), Top Gun (1986), Fatal Attraction (1987), Saving Private Ryan (1998), and Zodiac (2007).

Since Star Trek was owned by Paramount Television, many of Paramount Pictures' classic films have been featured or referenced on the various shows, including I'm No Angel (1933), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Shane (1953), To Catch a Thief (1955), and Rosemary's Baby (1968). The former two are now under ownership of Universal Studios as they own most pre-1950 Paramount sound features.

Upon the acquirement of Desilu, Paramount Pictures turned two other former Desilu properties into franchises by releasing in 1987 an acclaimed feature film adaptation of The Untouchables (originally an older Desilu television series, also referenced on Star Trek), and by releasing in 1996 the first film of the highly successful Mission: Impossible film franchise starring Tom Cruise. Initiated by Cruise, Mission Impossible, for the longest of times a sub-culture favorite (and one of the primary reasons why Parmount bought Desilu in the first place), finally fulfilled its hoped-for potential by becoming a profitable movie franchise of its own in 1996 with its first movie, followed with four others by 2015. Other television series they subsequently produced included The Odd Couple, Happy Days, Taxi, Cheers, MacGyver, Wings, Frasier, 7th Heaven, and The 4400. They also continued to produce the news magazine Entertainment Tonight.

In addition to Mission: Impossible and Star Trek, Paramount Pictures also holds the rights to such successful franchises as Beverly Hills Cop, Friday the 13th, Indiana Jones, and the films featuring Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan character (The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, etc.).

In 2003, Paramount Pictures relaunched itself, with a new CGI logo, nicknamed the "CGI Majestic Mountain." In 2005, following the CBS/Viacom split, Paramount Pictures purchased the production company DreamWorks SKG.

On 8 July 2007, Paramount Pictures set the record for fastest studio to earn $1 billion at the US box office in a single year, reaching the mark after 189 days. This is the first time they have held this record since 1998. [12] This achievement is due primarily to the success of the Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks release of Transformers, written by Star Trek (2009) scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.

The studio's 2008 slate of film releases began with the release of the J.J. Abrams-produced Cloverfield on 18 January 2008. This film, which only cost US$25 million to make, earned US$40 million at the box office in its opening weekend – the best January opening on record. It was the studio's 10th biggest opening after Shrek the Third, Transformers, War of the Worlds, Mission: Impossible II, Mission: Impossible III, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The Longest Yard, Mission: Impossible, and Deep Impact. Cloverfield broke the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend record, as well, with a four-day total of US$46 million. [13] [14] Cloverfield is also notable as the film to which the first official teaser trailer for 2009's Star Trek was attached.

Paramount's other films opening in 2008 include The Spiderwick Chronicles, Stop-Loss, the highly-anticipated Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the Marvel Comics-based Iron Man, the animated Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar: The Crate Escape, The Love Guru, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Iron Man earned $98.6 million on its opening weekend, marking the studio's best opening for a live-action release. [15] In 2009, in addition to Star Trek, Paramount is slated to release films such as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (also co-written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman), Nowhereland (starring Eddie Murphy, Vanessa Williams and Ronny Cox), and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (starring Rachel Nichols).

Paramount Studios sound stages Edit

During production on Star Trek, Paramount Studios had thirty-two sound stages that varied in size from the smallest, Stage 22, to the largest, Stage 16, the former one never utilized by Star Trek. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 49)

Aside from the sound stages, several backlots and other places located on the Paramount lot, were also utilized during the filming of Star Trek productions. The exteriors of studio office buildings were used for location shooting for TOS: "Bread and Circuses", TOS: "Patterns of Force" and TOS: "Assignment: Earth". The "McFadden Street" and "Boston Street" backlots were used in TOS: "A Piece of the Action", while the "European Street" backlot was used in "Patterns of Force". The structure known as "B Tank" was used as a filming location for TOS: "A Private Little War", TOS: "The Omega Glory", Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

The "New York Street backlot" was utilized in TNG: "Emergence", VOY: "Non Sequitur" and VOY: "11:59".


See alsoEdit

Further reading regarding Star Trek studio involvementEdit


  1. Ironically, it was the immensely popular The Lucy Show that got canceled immediately, as its star performer Lucille Ball left the very next day, directly after the ownership transfer ceremony on the Desilu lot. Emphatically declining to work any longer on her own creation under new ownership, she immediately founded a new production company, Lucille Ball Productions, to the very specific end of producing a revamped version of her popular show, Here's Lucy, which enjoyed an equally successful six year run.
  2. "Hollywood accounting" or "Hollywood bookkeeping" as it is also referred to, is a particularly nefarious phenomenon in the motion picture industry, which entails that, simply put, production stakeholders, such as shareholders, actors, producers, writers, production companies, local governments and the like, who have entered in a net profit sharing agreement with the studio, are essentially "defrauded" as much as possible out of their legally entitled shares by means of untoward bookkeeping methods. These typically entail inflating expenses such as production, distribution and marketing overhead and, most notoriously, "sundry costs" with as much elements as possible, not rarely utterly undue. Roddenberry has been far from being the only one to find himself on the receiving end of this phenomenon, as the phenomenon is deeply ingrained, widespread and persistent and by no means limited to Paramount Pictures alone. A particularly notorious instance is for example Lucas Films, who to this date maintain that their 1983 third Star Wars installment, Return of the Jedi, "has never gone into profit", despite having earned a recorded US$475 million dollar against a production budget of US$32.5 million (constituting a whopping 1,462% gross profitability), shortchanging several actors who had unwisely entered into a net profit sharing agreement. [1] Paramount Pictures itself got caught in the act when it was successfully sued by screen writer Art Buchwald (thereby succeeding where Roddenberry, through Maizlish, had seemingly failed seven years earlier) who found himself in a similar predicament in the case of Paramount's 1988 motion picture Coming to America (starring Eddie Murphy), which grossed over ten times its budget of US$39 million dollar. It was actually this case that brought the "Hollywood accounting" phenomenon to the full awareness of the general public. Finding itself highly scrutinized by the media at the time, Paramount was ultimately ordered by the courts to settle for US$900,000 in 1992. [2]
    However, as it is still very much a gray area in corporate law, it has, despite the for the industry adverse court ruling, not in the least deterred Paramount, or any other Hollywood studio for that matter, to continue with the practice unabated, to the point where it has become near-pandemic in the 2000s. Several Hollywood reporters have recorded that few, if any, of the biggest box-office successes of the past decades had actually turned in an official net studio profit, that is, on paper at least. [3] [4] This actually made Hollywood studios one of the very worst properties to invest in, as many shareholders can now attest to. Despite a class-action brought against the entire industry before a Federal Court in 1996 [5], the financial gains apparently still far outweigh the costs of any possible legal litigation. The two alternate universe films, Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, for example are officially reported as among the least profitable, even loosing, Star Trek productions by Paramount, despite grossing close to US$1 billion dollar between the two of them, worldwide (see: Star Trek films: Performance summary). Stakeholders who still do enter into a profit sharing agreement, have however, learned the lessons of their unfortunate predecessors, and do so on the basis of gross profit, instead of net profits, as gross profit is determined by only charging directly assignable production costs to the revenues under accounting laws. And indeed, Roddenberry himself did not repeat the mistakes he made back on 18 May 1965 and in 1978 for The Motion Picture, when he signed a profit sharing deal with Paramount in 1986 for The Next Generation, where it was stipulated that he was to receive 35% of the adjusted gross profits derived from the series. [6] Studios countered with transferring as much indirect expenses to the direct production costs as they possibly could get away with legally. Notorious in this respect is the transfer of substantial executive bonuses, which, decently, should be paid from the net profits, to production overhead, from which regular salaries are paid. The even more savvy stakeholders will try to negotiate a gross revenue sharing agreement, but this is of course vehemently opposed by Hollywood studios and is only reserved for the very biggest of the Hollywood stars.
  3. It was by no means a coincidence that Warner Bros' Babylon 5, concurrently premiering around the same time as Deep Space Nine, resembled Paramount's by then well-oiled marketing of Star Trek in more than one respect. Yet, while the Babylon 5-franchise enjoyed a considerable measure of success while its original series was produced and aired, it eventually fell apart after the failure of its spin-off series and movies, which resulted in that Babylon 5 had nowhere near the longevity the Star Trek-franchise enjoyed. Other science fiction franchises, very popular at the time of their production, like Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, Stargate or Firefly have fared little better, if at all.

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