Direct-to-DVD Trek movies?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Mirror Sulu, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. mos6507

    mos6507 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "I really don't know how you envisage a ST that uses minimal SPFX"

    B5 managed to do SF on the cheap in the relative dark-ages of CG. How much do you think it would cost to do B5 with today's computers? You could probably have a render-farm with 1/10th or fewer computers than were required back in the day. I understand perhaps the main cost of doing FX is manpower, but still, the fact that you have Trek fan films that employ virtual sets and have space shots that are actually better than the standard def stuff we saw in the TNG era should tell you that it doesn't have to cost what you think it has to cost.

    I don't know where all the money goes with these big-budget things, but I can tell you that the money just isn't being spent wisely. It's being put into rendering details that are, for the most part, superfluous, doing things digitally that could have been done through compositing live action (like water or blades of grass). Trying to do 3D dolly shots in all virtual alien environments that used to be done with simple 2D matte paintings. All these things are done purely because they can, for the novelty-factor and the bragging rights, not because they are the most cost-effective, but they have the net effect of requiring an army of technicians rather than a small crack team. There is a point of diminishing returns as far as adding more and more visual detail. Because we don't have a lot of modern reference points for things being done on the cheap, one can only speculate, but I believe that you can maybe get to 80% of an optimal entertainment experience with a low budget as you could by spending 10X more to get to 100%.

    If you want to say that Trek is still a tired franchise and should only be trotted out as big-budget tentpole films, fine, but I just think the budget argument is bogus.
     
  2. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Gee, maybe that's why I never became a "Babylon 5" fan? :rommie:
     
  3. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    CBS wouldn't be able to anyway, since Paramount has the movie rights. Paramount has no motive to cheapen their brand with anything but first run tentpole movies that make big profits.

    CBS does has a motive to work with Netflix or Amazon on TV series in genres that couldn't survive on broadcast and may not appeal to premium cable, but might thrive on streaming. That motive is that the TV business is changing and smart companies need to get out in front of that change by figuring out how they are going to stay in business when the current ad supported TV system vanishes or evolves beyond recognition.

    CBS is partnering with Amazon to do a test with Under the Dome, and it's no surprise that that is a sci fi series, just the type that struggles on broadcast but could thrive on streaming.

    The TV industry is evolving so much that what was true in the past is irrelevant. Netflix came up with $100m for 26 episodes of House of Cards, so they don't need to be international to afford pricey original series as long as their subscribers value it. According to Netflix, that experiment was a success (though the real test will come in April when they release their financials since they aren't providing details now.)

    Keep in mind that in a subscription based service, one viewer is worth more than in an ad-based system, where Star Trek has always been. A Netflix Star Trek series could justify its existence with a smaller audience than on broadcast.

    Which is okay because the TV business is headed for greater niche-ification, where shows need to cater to the specific tastes of subscribers anyway. It's the opposite trend from movies, which is all about blanding everything down to broad tastes (which is what kirk55555 is talking about.) the movies aren't going to be any different from what we're seeing now, but a TV series could be distinctly different in its approach.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  4. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    But CBS can make episodes. You were talking about Netflix for a TV series, were you not?

    No matter what they decide to do within USA, they still need to consider their international markets. Everyone predicted Australia to follow USA's lead with cable TV, albeit about a decade behind, but we didn't really. Our population is too small.

    http://thecheapshot.com.au/tv-review-house-of-cards/

    Ummm, one quick glance: "House of Cards" doesn't appear to be science fiction, by the look of those clothes and that set. $100m wouldn't go that far starting up a new ST series.

    Okay, be greedy. Keep "Star Trek" in the USA.

    Sure: and Majel Barrett wanted Gene Roddenberry to write a Mrs Troi sitcom, no SPFX needed, set on Earth, and guest-starring Marina Sirtis and perhaps Michael Dorn. She was serious.

    But would that be Star Trekky enough for most fans? I doubt it.
     
  5. mos6507

    mos6507 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    (It also would have guest starred Majel as her mother, of course.)

    I would watch it, but I'm weird that way. It would need to have natural comedic moments within the Trek universe rather than turning the Trek universe into an a farce. There are plenty of examples of humor within Trek that struck the right chord.

    The problem with the TNG-era shows is each one was hyped as breaking the mold, but none of them really fell that far from the tree. I guess DS9 came the closest, but I found the characters patently unlikeable, starting with Avery Brooks' robotic attempt at Shakespearean delivery. So I don't buy the idea that everything that could be tried, has been tried.

    There are still other ways to refresh the franchise besides comic-bookizing it the way JJ did.
     
  6. yousirname

    yousirname Commander Red Shirt

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    As I see it, streaming models will have more in common with subscription channels than network broadcast in terms of their demographics, and thus in terms of their content also. I think this could spell trouble for a proposed Trek show planning to use the streaming model. House of Cards, for example, could not be broadcast as is on network television - too much profanity, nudity, etc. That kind of material could only be broadcast on a subscription service, whether through a box under your TV or through your modem.

    And I think that the success and cultural penetration of those shows - The Sopranos, The Wire, even Sex and the City and Curb - has changed the expectations of the audiences using those models. Arrested Development is the only streaming-only show I know of that could in theory be broadcast on network TV. Now, while it is 50% of all the streaming-only shows I can name (HoC being the other one) I think it's worth noting that AD is a show that itself couldn't survive on network TV. What demand for it there was existed, sure, but not in enough numbers to be economically viable.

    So while Trek might appear to be in a similar position to AD and thus potentially ripe for a return, I'm more skeptical. I think Trek's traditional network-safe style will likely not appeal to the demographics that the streaming providers will be courting - even if a large chunk of that demo are in fact fans of previous incarnations of Star Trek.

    Assuming I'm right, what would people think of a Trek show adapted to the expectations of the audience in question? Could Trek still be Trek if it had profanity? Nudity?

    Part of me thinks it would be awesome and part of me thinks it would be terrible. And CBS would never allow it. But it might possibly be the only way we'd ever get new serialised Star Trek again.
     
  7. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If think we're as likely to get a R-rated Star Trek series from CBS as we're likely to get a R-rated Star Wars movie from Disney.
     
  8. yousirname

    yousirname Commander Red Shirt

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    I agree it's unlikely. But I worry that if we did get a streaming original Trek series that was more or less in line with network broadcast standards, it might flop. And that would probably be the end for at least another decade, if not forever.
     
  9. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    Are some people actually saying that a sitcom starring Majel Barrett would've been better for the franchises long term health than the J.J. Abrams film?
     
  10. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think if such a series flopped, it would have less to do with it being in line with network broadcast standards and more to do with it being too expensive to produce and not having a big enough audience to justify that expense even on a streaming platform. The alternative is to make a Trek series as cheaply as possible so its returns will always be bigger than its investment.
    I definitely wouldn't say forever, because things tend to be reinvented for a new audience over time, and I definitely can see Trek being periodically reinvented every so often as long as there's some form of onscreen entertainment (we probably wouldn't recognize it 40 years from now, though).
     
  11. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    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).

    Netflix has 25M subscribers in the US and I saw an stimate that 10% of subscribers watched HoC, sounds about right for what Netflix expected but that's just 2.5M viewers. Not acceptable for broadcast but on par with what a premium cable station would expect.

    That's a reasonable level because each subscriber is worth more than an ad viewer or to put it a different way, if you want your individual tastes catered to, you have to be worth enough $$$ to make it worth someone's while.

    And that's the calculation that governs Star Trek's future in a serialized, small screen format. Where are there viewers who can make a series worth someone's while? That's where the next series will appear.

    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.

    And Netflix/Amazon are different from HBO/Showtime in that the latter have established a brand based on snob appeal and being anti-traditional TV (especially bland broadcast) while the former is embracing broadcast style as well as the more adult stuff. Netflix was considering reviving Jericho and Amazon is partnering with CBS on a series to be shown both places.

    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.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  12. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    No, you missed the point of my post. Majel wanted to star in it. A Lwaxana Troi "Aunty Mame goes wild" starring vehicle!
     
  13. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Did somebody have a question about Netflix's international strategy?

    They haven't forgotten about taking over the world (they are a technology company, after all) ;) but it must be a chore to negotiate rights of thousands of movies and TV shows in each territory. And they have to look at each region separately and come up with a launch plan because the competitive situation is different in each country.
     
  14. dub

    dub Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    With the success of JJ Trek, I could totally see a new Trek television series (serial would be awesome), and I could see each season becoming available on Netflix shortly after each season concludes on TV since that seems to be the pattern with some shows. If you missed it on TV, catch up with it on Netflix, get hooked, then tune in for season 2 on TV because you just can't wait.

    I wouldn't arrange funeral services for broadcast or cable television just yet. And I think Netflix as an exclusive outlet has yet to prove itself as a lucrative alternative for a large budget series like Trek (which would need to have a large budget to match the standards already set for the franchise). Once we have hard proof that something like Trek could bring decent profit, then streaming as an exclusive or premiere source could be a contender.

    ...but I should say if we do happen to get new Trek on Netflix, I will be just as excited as the next guy!
     
  15. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    But there's no place on TV now that is likely to want a new series. Too nichey for broadcast; premium cable wouldn't go for something associated with free TV (off brand for them). Basic cable is possible, someplace like TNT, but CBS has no basic cable stations, so it would have to negotiate with an outside party. Neither CBS nor TNT has an overwhelming motive to bother, there are plenty other types of shows they could do.

    But Netflix and Amazon do have a motive to want a big brand name that appeals to techy types - who are the most likely to already be subscribing to streaming, or considering it. They're in competition with each other right now to make noise and establish themselves as king of the hill.

    This is a new industry and it's a crucial time to establish dominance. Both would be motivated to invest in an expensive, high profile show, even at a short term loss, because it would pay off in the long run by helping them knock out the other guy.
     
  16. dub

    dub Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Oh, no doubt. I'm sure Netflix, Amazon or Hulu would jump at the chance to stream a new Trek series. I don't think anyone would argue with that. But would streaming provide enough profit to warrant Paramount to produce an expensive Trek series exclusively for streaming? I think the answer right now is -- that remains to be seen. Could be "yes" at some point in the future, but it's not clear right now. I think television to netflix would be the more likely scenario at the moment for Trek. And honestly, I don't think Trek is as "nichey" as it once was. Whether you love it or hate it, JJ has (so far) successfully made the idea of Trek more mainstream and appealing to the masses these days. 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. Re-airing season by season on Netflix, yes. That would just be icing on the cake and perhaps good marketing for the series. But like I said, if the tables turn in the future I would be all about it! I love Netflix!
     
  17. CoveTom

    CoveTom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  18. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Vice Admiral Admiral

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    My response was in regards to "JJ's lens-flare budget," but the primary thing is the question of CBS (not Paramount) wanting to sink 80 million dollars a year into a new Trek series, when they could just do another crime procedural drama or sitcom for less and get bigger ratings for it too.
     
  19. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    I don't think you can compare TV budgets to blockbuster film budgets like that. I'm no expert on Hollywood, but that comparison strikes me as like comparing apples to warships.
     
  20. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, there are different business models between theatrical movies and TV shows. The dollars don't quite equal up, IIRC.
     

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