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Old February 27 2013, 11:46 PM   #61
Harvey
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

CoveTom wrote: View Post
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You could make a whole season of Trek TV out of JJ's lens-flare budget.
Doubtful. It's not 2001 anymore when ENT left the air. I would wager that a new Trek TV series would probably be budgeted around 3 million dollars an episode these days.
Even at $3 million a pop, and even if you did the longer 26-episode season they did in the TNG days, that's still only $78 million for a season, which is over $100 million less than the budget of the latest Abrams flick.
Probably more than $78 million, since premiere episodes tend to be several times more expensive than weekly installments, due to the cost of constructing so many permanent sets, costumes, props, etc. Doable within $100 million, though -- I think -- especially if you're not spending so much money attracting feature film directors (David Fincher, Joel Schumacher, James Foley) and feature film actors (Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kate Mara) who demand higher salaries.

Of course, you get what you pay for.
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Old February 28 2013, 03:37 AM   #62
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

But would streaming provide enough profit to warrant Paramount to produce an expensive Trek series exclusively for streaming?
If you mean CBS, who has the TV rights (Paramount is movies only), I think it could be yes. Two factors are important here: TV is undergoing seismic changes that make it hard to predict just what will be profitable going forward; and CBS is well-heeled, since they are the fattest of the dinosaur broadcast networks and will be the last to fall (NBC looks to be the first).

So CBS shouldn't just look at short-term profit, but rather think about what they might try that will reveal the new landscape to them, so they can understand what they need to be doing in the future that is totally different from the past. And they have the luxury of being able to fund experiments.

The classic mistake for a corporation that is doing well in a dying industry is for them to continue to complacently rearranging the deck chairs until its too late, and they realize they should have done something five or ten years ago. Five or ten years ago is right now.

And honestly, I don't think TrekJJ has (so far) successfully made the idea of Trek more mainstream and appealing to the masses these days
JJ has been a success in the movie business. That's not the same as the TV business, and they're drifting further apart all the time. Movies appeal to a young, global market that wants visuals and action. TV is more skewed domestic, and the format lends itself to plot, character and complexity.

They are really two different beasts, both in form and in the underlying business. The audiences will have some overlap, but they are distinct. Streaming is the TV business - the future of the TV business, really - while movies will continue to focus on being bigger and better theater-based extravaganzas, which is how they can fight piracy.

Movies are motivated to create experiences that are piracy-proof in that you need a big theater screen to appreciate their benefit. Streaming is the opposite, focusing on small-screen values of characterization and story.

If someone pitched a Trek series with the cool factor and sex appeal of JJ Trek and a premise that had a Lost-like serial nature, then I could easily see any of the big 4 networks picking it up AND it would be profitable for the studio.
I don't see this at all.Star Trek failed on broadcast, ending up with 3-4M viewers, too small for anyone to bother with, especially at that expense. And what has JJ Abrams changed about the situation? He's shown that if you spend $100M on eye candy, people will like Star Trek again. That doesn't help TV.

I really think it needs a richer revenue stream, from subscriptions. You could also drive down the budget by skimping on the SFX, but at some point it will cease to be Star Trek and why not just make another cop show if that's your goal?

If Under the Dome is a success, and the next Star Trek movie this summer is also a success, I could see CBS cobbling together a co-production with Netflix or Amazon, and showing the series both there and on CBS. If it gets 3M viewers on CBS, who cares? That's only part of the revenue stream, and not the most important part.

CBS gets another experiment that will show them how not to be a dinosaur before its too late. Netflix or Amazon gets a big, showy brand that helps them kick their competitor to the curb at a time in their development when that is going to pay off big future dividends. Everybody wins. (Well except for whoever doesn't win the streaming bidding war, and all of CBS's competitors.)

Last edited by Temis the Vorta; February 28 2013 at 03:53 AM.
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Old February 28 2013, 06:05 AM   #63
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
JJ has been a success in the movie business. That's not the same as the TV business...They are really two different beasts, both in form and in the underlying business. The audiences will have some overlap, but they are distinct.
True, but the huge success of the film does impact the overall brand. This boost to the Trek brand could very well lead to execs revisiting the idea of a Trek series be it via broadcast, on the cloud or on Viewmaster slides. Regardless, it would be awesome to have a new Trek series...somewhere!
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Old February 28 2013, 03:22 PM   #64
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
The profanity and the nudity could have been edited out. The real reason why a show like that couldn't survive in broadcast is that it has a niche appeal, and can't get the 10M or so you need in order to survive (more on CBS, less on NBC).
I've heard of such practices, but I've never seen the results (not American) apart from feature films. Is that actually accepted practice, and do people watch the results?

So why does the next series need to be "network safe" if its not under the FCC's thumb? I'm not suggesting nudity or swearing (except in Klingon and Romulan of course), but more violence and disturbing material might be appropriate, space is a dangerous place.
Well, that's what I'm asking. Though, if you're not suggesting nudity and swearing, why aren't you suggesting them? It would certainly be a radical shift, but so would graphic violence.

And that's why I don't expect the next series to be on premium cable, even though the numbers would add up just as they do on streaming. A franchise associated with free TV doesn't fit their brand image.
That's a fair point. I always wondered why HBO didn't snap up Arrested Development. That seems like a reasonable explanation.
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Old February 28 2013, 06:43 PM   #65
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

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Well, that's what I'm asking. Though, if you're not suggesting nudity and swearing, why aren't you suggesting them? It would certainly be a radical shift, but so would graphic violence.
What exactly would nudity, swearing, and graphic violence add to Trek, though?

Paramount is treating Trek is a blockbuster, tentpole summer movie franchise. They are aiming for the widest possible swath of audience, not hardcore fans or any other niche. And they have determined that while they need to ramp up the action and eye candy level, they can't push Trek past PG-13 and still hit the needed market. An R-rated Trek film has been discussed before, and always dismissed as not appropriate for the audience that makes a Trek flick successful.

I'm not sure that would be different on TV. In fact, I would think it would be less conducive to that. As has been pointed out, TV is a medium that lends itself to more thoughtful, thought-provoking stories about complex characters and big ideas. Which is why I, personally, think Trek has always worked best as a TV show. To add in a bunch of nudity, language and graphic violence, just because "hey, we're not on a network and we can," seems not only unnecessary but counterproductive to the Trek brand.

Would "Chain of Command" really have been more powerful if Picard had been bloodied up and called Madred a motherf**ker? I don't think so. In fact, I think the fact that they used an appropriately "sci-fi" method of torture, and didn't depict it as traditional graphic violence, made it all the more effective, and that's part of what makes Trek special. Your mileage may vary.
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Old February 28 2013, 06:55 PM   #66
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

If it aired on 1 April, "Keeping Up with the Cardassians" could be a hit
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Old February 28 2013, 07:34 PM   #67
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

CoveTom wrote: View Post
What exactly would nudity, swearing, and graphic violence add to Trek, though?
Credibility and greater reflection of contemporary tastes. I don't personally feel like nudity, swearing and graphic violence added anything essential to The Sopranos or The Wire. But the fact that those shows were free to contain such elements as the plot required is a reflection of contemporary tastes, which are more accepting of such content.

If the recent trends in TV drama continue, TV Trek as we know it will simply be a relic of a bygone era - there are certainly shows that gain little in terms of story or character by the mere fact of being shot in colour, but that's not a reason to shoot them in black and white, is it? Consumer tastes demand that shows be in colour.

I'm not sure that would be different on TV. In fact, I would think it would be less conducive to that. As has been pointed out, TV is a medium that lends itself to more thoughtful, thought-provoking stories about complex characters and big ideas. Which is why I, personally, think Trek has always worked best as a TV show. To add in a bunch of nudity, language and graphic violence, just because "hey, we're not on a network and we can," seems not only unnecessary but counterproductive to the Trek brand.
It's not as though the two are mutually exclusive (again, thinking of recent critically-acclaimed HBO shows). I'm not saying that we need to ditch what we already like about Trek, just that it may be the case that Trek as we know it is just too far behind the pace of contemporary tastes, and that it might need major adjustments to correct that fact if we're ever to get another Trek show.

Would "Chain of Command" really have been more powerful if Picard had been bloodied up and called Madred a motherf**ker? I don't think so. In fact, I think the fact that they used an appropriately "sci-fi" method of torture, and didn't depict it as traditional graphic violence, made it all the more effective, and that's part of what makes Trek special. Your mileage may vary.
I agree that it wouldn't necessarily be more effective, but I don't agree at all that it would be less so.
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Old February 28 2013, 07:50 PM   #68
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

By "editing out" nudity and profanity, I mean they wouldn't be there in the first place, not that there would be two separate versions. There's no need for separate versions since show creators know their audience and network in advance, and know what is tolerated and expected.

I'd say premium cable has more of an expectation of adult content vs. streaming. I often notice gratuitous sex and nudity in Showtime and HBO, scenes that add nothing in particular to the story.

House of Cards also had adult content, but I noticed places where they avoided sex and nudity where I think HBO or Showtime would have been more graphic. Maybe it was just Fincher's decision. Sometimes having someone be naked in a scene is just a distraction from whatever the scene is actually about.

HBO and Showtime have a narrow focus: sophisticated grownup tastes. Netflix and Amazon are going for a broader approach, catering to a range of audience types and depending on their movie-style ratings to help people decide what to watch. Kids' programming is important to both, for instance. House of Cards skews towards the premium cable end of the spectrum with some restraint, the Eli Roth series Hemlock Grove will certainly be a hard R, Arrested Development will probably stay close to what was permitted on FOX and Under the Dome will have to be FCC friendly, even on Amazon.

So on streaming, there's no adult-content level they need to hit, and they could do a PG-13 Star Trek series since that's in keeping with the franchise's brand image. Maybe take more liberties with violence, but not so much with nudity and sex. The adult content would be in the complexity of the ideas (hopefully).

Though, if you're not suggesting nudity and swearing, why aren't you suggesting them? It would certainly be a radical shift, but so would graphic violence.
It's not in keeping with Star Trek's brand image. Netflix or Amazon could do anything, in theory, from a show for toddlers to a XXX Vulcan Love Slave porn (assuming CBS let them). But the attraction of Star Trek for producers of a series is that it's a brand that means certain things to the potential audience, and it doesn't mean graphic sex or nudity.

A certain level of violence has been considered acceptable. Not torture-porn violence, but something that pushes it towards the edge of an R rating would be within the scope of the brand. It also makes more sense for the premise, which is that Starfleet is the sheriff on the frontier, dealing with threats. Violence gives the show credibility - yes, the threats are bad enough that Starfleet should be there. Sex and nudity are not integral to the premise.

There really is no such thing as "contemporary taste." There are many audiences with many tastes, an the trend is towards greater niche-ization of tastes so that people who want to see soft-core porn can watch HBO and Showtime (and probably Netflix and Amazon will have shows that push it that far), but there will also be shows that hit everywhere on the G to hard-R spectrum.

I could see a hard-R space opera series being a big hit on streaming or premium cable - Deadwood in space - but Star Trek is a brand that already has an identity. The hard-R space opera needs to be a new brand, built from scratch.

Last edited by Temis the Vorta; February 28 2013 at 08:19 PM.
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Old February 28 2013, 11:21 PM   #69
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

Star Trek had its biggest TV audience when it was being watched by families: syndicated repeats of TOS in the 70s, stripped five-nights-per-week in the early prime time timeslot, and then syndicated first-run TNG in the late 80s/early 90s.

As DS9, VOY and ENT slipped into later and later timeslots, so that wider demographic got narrower and narrower.

Interesting that when the 2009 movie came out, sales of boxed sets of all the previous ST series went through the roof. CBS Home Video found it hard to keep the sets in stock for a while. The diehards already had them, of course. The family groups didn't, but the JJ movie made them hungry to find out about things they had missed.

Will some future Netflix system satisfy family viewing? I guess the biggest hurdle is that when something important will air once only, people organise their lives around that one event. (Similarly, a gala premiere night at the movies.) When the people are free to choose a viewing time of their own convenience, they don't ever get around to watching it together. (Looks at my own towering piles of unwatched DVDs and Blu-Rays.)

How to turn ST watching into "an event" again?
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Old March 1 2013, 02:13 AM   #70
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
How to turn ST watching into "an event" again?
By limiting how much Trek is out there, which is what the current movies have done.

I think you can have either movies or a TV series, but not both anymore.
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Old March 1 2013, 02:56 AM   #71
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
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Majel Barrett wanted Gene Roddenberry to write a Mrs Troi sitcom...
(It also would have guest starred Majel as her mother, of course.)
No, you missed the point of my post. Majel wanted to star in it. A Lwaxana Troi "Aunty Mame goes wild" starring vehicle!
Indeed, any real Trek fan who isn't aware of this needs to turn in their Star Trek Geek card.
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Old March 1 2013, 09:16 PM   #72
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

How to turn ST watching into "an event" again?
Forget families, TV has splintered into niche tastes and the trend is towards more of the same in the future.

Here's my game plan for boosting Star Trek's profile on the small screen (whether that means TV or laptops or iPads):

After the next movie is a big hit again in early summer, CBS announces a joint venture with Amazon or Netflix* to produce a new Star Trek series to be shown both on CBS and streaming in the same model as Under the Dome. This gives it the high profile of being on CBS without the need to justify its existence with 12M viewers. The difference will be made up by the streaming partner. Robert Orci is very likely to be the showrunner.

It will debut in a couple years, to coincide with the the third movie, meaning an early summer launch. This moves it out of the most competitive season for TV and places it during a time of year when CBS doesn't have much anyway. Streaming customers probably don't care what season anything launches.

The series will have some connection to the movies, to take advantage of shared PR. Maybe Quinto, Cho or Urban will be the lead character. Maybe a new character from the movies will be the lead (someone introduced in the third movie for that purpose?) Maybe the premise builds on a plot point from the movies (PS, if you want to discuss this more please code any movie spoilers, I've been hiding out from them for months and don't wanna blow it now. )

Netflix or Amazon would get into a bidding war for Star Trek. Their audience skews towards the early adopted tech crowd, which has a lot of overlap with Trek fandom of course. It also signals to Hollywood that they are able to play with the big boys by getting a big brand. Netflix just sunk $100M into credibility-building with House of Cards to prove that they can create popular content on par with HBO. Amazon is countering with one exclusive deal after another. They are definitely in battle mode, so let's take advantage of that!

*They may want to wait till later in the summer to see how Under the Dome does.

Interesting that when the 2009 movie came out, sales of boxed sets of all the previous ST series went through the roof. CBS Home Video found it hard to keep the sets in stock for a while.
The ability to boost the value of back catalog with a new series is a big factor in streaming. Netflix has all the Star Trek series on streaming except ENT (not sure why that's missing, also not sure what Amazon has.)

When House of Cards debuted, I noticed that the original House of Cards got bumped to "popular on Netflix" at least for a few days, then it fell off. That shows that it makes sense for a streaming service to develop a new version of an existing show, or extend a franchise, because they boost the value of their existing streaming shows without needing to put any additional development into the old stuff. That's another argument in favor of Netflix and Amazon continuing existing series (like with Arrested Development.)

Also, if your goal is to lure in new subscribers, it really helps to have something else in the same line for the subscribers to watch after they're done bingeing on the new show. That's a crucial time when you need to keep them happy until the free trial runs out, so they will convert.
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Old March 1 2013, 09:30 PM   #73
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
How to turn ST watching into "an event" again?
By limiting how much Trek is out there, which is what the current movies have done.

I think you can have either movies or a TV series, but not both anymore.
Of course you can have both, if they are geared to appeal to distinct audiences, which given the way movies and TV are splitting off into completely different businesses, is a given anyway.

Movies appeal to the global audience for big budget action extravangzas with lots of visual appeal. Nowadays action movies get 60% or more of their box office overseas. The audience skews young.

TV skews more domestic, and the format lends itself to serialization, complex plotlines and deeper characterization. The audience skews older than for action movies. The streaming audience still probably skews towards the techy early adopter, the kind of people who jump on any new technology first, though this will even out in time.

With such disparate audiences, the problem of cannibalization is moot. There will be some overlap in the audiences but also plenty of people who watch one but not the other.

And the content will be very different. Anyone who hates JJ for turning Star Trek into a lens-flare ridden cartoon should be rooting for Netflix to do a series, because it certainly won't be action-heavy. They don't have the budget for it and the audience wouldn't want that.

And don't worry, it won't be House of Cards in space. A tamer version of Game of Thrones is more like it.
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Old March 1 2013, 09:42 PM   #74
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
Anyone who hates JJ for turning Star Trek into a lens-flare ridden cartoon should be rooting for Netflix to do a series, because it certainly won't be action-heavy. They don't have the budget for it and the audience wouldn't want that.
Well if Netflix does a Star Trek series, I won't get to see it, so I'm not rooting for them.
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Old March 1 2013, 09:47 PM   #75
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Re: Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
This moves it out of the most competitive season for TV and places it during a time of year when CBS doesn't have much anyway. Streaming customers probably don't care what season anything launches.
Just going by my own experience, I actually appreciate something I'm keen to watch coming out at a time of year when most big-name shows are off-season. It's irritating how synchronised that kind of thing can be, even if it's understandable commercially.
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