Fans were dismayed and outraged when Paramount Pictures and CBS went after Azanar Productions, a group that raised over half a million dollars on Kickstarter to make their studio quality Star Trek fan film. Paramount had a long-standing tradition of ignoring fan films, or at least not going after any that weren’t trying to make a buck off the Star Trek franchise. The lawsuit sent shock waves through the fan film community, who might be next? During a fan event for Star Trek Beyond back in May, director Justin Lin and J.J. Abrams announced that the lawsuit would be dropped and fans breathed a sigh of relief. So why would Paramount and CBS tell the judge yesterday (6/15/16) that the lawsuit was still on?
Here’s what Abrams said:
We talked about this and we realized this is not the appropriate way to deal with the fans. We should be celebrating this thing. We, the fans of ‘Star Trek,’ are all a part of this world. We went to the studio and pushed them to stop this lawsuit and now, within the next few weeks, it will be announced that this thing is going away and the fan will be able to work on the project.
Just after that statement was made, both sides were still filing motions and Axanar Productions had a May 23rd deadline to file an answer to CBS and Paramount’s claims. The fan film production did file and specifically mentioned Abrams’ statement and tweets from CBS and Paramount about settlement talks and working out a set of fan film guidelines.
Paramount and CBS then filed their own counterclaims admitting the public statements, but saying such statements speak for themselves, and continuing the lawsuit.
What’s it all mean? Was J.J. Abrams’ statement not backed by Paramount and CBS beforehand? Was Abrams trying to force CBS and Paramount into dropping the lawsuit? That is certainly what it looks like now. If CBS and Paramount planned on dropping the suit, wouldn’t they just drop it and not spend even more money actively pursuing the case?