Has CBS Corp. and Paramount gone too far by suing a group planning to create an “independent” Star Trek film?
Erin Ranahan thinks so. But then again, she’s the Winston & Strawn attorney who is representing the defendants of that copyright infringement suit, Axanar Productions Inc. and Alec Peters.
“It is unfortunate that to purportedly ‘protect’ the Star Trek franchise, CBS and Paramount have targeted some of its biggest fans with this lawsuit,” Ranahan told Fox News reporter Blanche Johnson. “Historically, fan-fiction has been a driving force in the Star Trek community. We are, however, still hopeful we can find a resolution that both satisfies plaintiff’s concerns and allows ‘Axanar’ to go forward with its film to fulfill the wishes of thousands of fans who have contributed.”
And Ranahan is right that fan-fiction (and later, thanks to technology, fan-films) have been a part of the Trek fandom throughout nearly the entire 50-year history of the franchise. Yet, this particular community represents just a sliver of the overall Trek fandom population. For example, Fox News reports that 8,500 people contributed to the campaign to create “Star Trek: Axanar,” which eventually raised more than $1.1 million in crowdfunding. However, using the average ticket price of $8.13 as established by Box Office Mojo in 2013, “Star Trek: Into Darkness” sold 21.8 million tickets to the film, in North America alone.
Just compared to that, the Axanar support represents just 0.03 percent — that’s three-hundredths of 1 percent — of the people who bought tickets to see “Into Darkness.”
Ranahan repeated many of the claims she made in her motion earlier this week to dismiss the case. Among her chief concerns were how CBS and Paramount could cry foul on a movie that has not even been filmed. And as Fox News reported, with a script that is “still being rewritten and revised.”
That does seem to contradict past statements made by the Axanar team in regards to the script. Just last April, during one of its official podcasts, the Axanar team described the script as “locked” — typically meaning that only minor revisions, if any, are left. Then, last August, Axanar posted a picture of Peters holding what appears to be the finished script, once again describing it as “locked,” and even describing it as the “best Star Trek movie script ever.”
Yet, any new changes to the script now are because of CBS and Paramount, Ranahan said. “The script is being reworked in light of the lawsuit.”
Both sides have told the court they would be ready to hear Ranahan’s motion to dismiss on April 11, although the judge has yet to set a court date.
CBS and Paramount have remained mostly quiet since the filing of the suit. However, they told 1701News earlier this month in a statement that Star Trek is “a treasured franchise in which CBS and Paramount continue to produce new original content for its large universe of fans. The producers of ‘Axanar’ are making a Star Trek picture they describe themselves as a fully professional, independent Star Trek film.”