Star Trek franchise hints at expanding the universe with an animated film

"First First Contact" -- Epi#210 -- Phil Lamarr as Admiral Freeman, Dawnn Lewis as Captain Carol Freeman and Lycia Naff as Captain Gomez of the Paramount+ series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS. Photo: PARAMOUNT+ ©2021 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved **Best Possible Screen Grab**
"First First Contact" -- Epi#210 -- Phil Lamarr as Admiral Freeman, Dawnn Lewis as Captain Carol Freeman and Lycia Naff as Captain Gomez of the Paramount+ series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS. Photo: PARAMOUNT+ ©2021 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved **Best Possible Screen Grab** /

With the arrival of the Paramount+ streaming platform, the Star Trek franchise has been able to expand into other titles. This includes Star Trek: Discovery, which is the next series in the famed lineup of Star Trek TV shows, and Star Trek: Prodigy.

Star Trek: Prodigy is an animated series that airs on Paramount+ that follows a group of alien teenagers who, as IMDB explains, “steal a derelict Starfleet vessel and use it to explore the galaxy.”  It takes place five years after the ending of the Star Trek: Voyager series and is set to soon air on Nickelodeon.

Captain Kathryn Janeway, from the original Voyager series, is in the new series as well, still portrayed by Kate Mulgrew, and serving as the ship’s, “Emergency Training Hologram.”  In the timeline of the franchise, it is set in 2383, which takes place after both the events of the Star Trek: Voyager series and the Star Trek: Nemesis film.

The expansion of Star Trek titles also includes Star Trek: Picard, which follows Patrick Stewart reprising his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard from the Star Trek: The Next Generation series. There’s also Star Trek: Lower Decks, a comedic adult animated series based on the low-ranking support crew of a starship. These are a result of showrunner Alex Kurtzman and CBS Studios looking to present a modern expanded Star Trek universe.

As new fans are introduced to classic Star Trek content with its availability on Paramount+, they are introduced to new series in the franchise. Old fans are treated, as well, with beloved characters returning in new content, such as Captains Picard and Janeway.

According to Screenrant reports from a Hollywood Reporter interview with Brian Robbins, the CEO of Paramount Pictures, the studio is, “very satisfied with Prodigy and the other projects they have released thus far.” It is the first time a Star Trek series has been aimed at a younger audience.

As a result, there have been talks to continue to expand the universe. Other franchises have looked to Marvel as an inspiration. Marvel was able to take characters from its connected Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and expand them even further. This was seen with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The film builds on a popular character in Spider-Man that gained momentum from the MCU. It was able to expand on it in a new dimension, both in the story with parallel universes, and a different medium with the story being animated. Animation is a medium that can draw people of all ages.

As told in The Hollywood Reporter, Robbins said, “The data is pretty obvious. We’re going to be patient because we think the show is fantastic and creatively just exceeds all expectations. I do not doubt that we’ll be doing more. Alex [Kurtzman] and I have talked about what the theatrical film version of this show is and the likes of that. We’re excited.”

Alex Kurtzman added to The Hollywood Reporter that, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is still one of the best movies over the past decade, animated or not. It’s just an unbelievable piece of artistry. I went with my whole family and another family and we all sat there with our jaws on the floor. Ultimately, Star Trek is about family, it’s about these giant universal themes. Getting to tell a story like that, especially given the level of cinema we’ve already brought to the television show, is a wonderful opportunity. It would thrill me to do that.”

With Prodigy being successful, it is not too far off to imagine why Paramount sees the potential to take that success and bring it to the theatrical field with a feature-length film, especially in the aftermath of the success of a film like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

While some audiences may have been initially introduced to the world of Star Trek in the original shows, the series on Paramount+ may be the first time a whole new generation of audiences may be exposed to the franchise and characters. It allows the universe of Star Trek to continue to expand and grow.

Robbins continued to share his enthusiasm for Star Trek being exposed to a new generation by telling The Hollywood Reporter, “I just can’t help be excited about how this franchise will now be introduced in such a great way. As a parent, that gets me excited. I really wanted to see it play in a room and it was super cool — and it does play like a movie.”

The last part of his quote further encourages the idea of an animated series. While there is no confirmation one is being made yet, it’s something being discussed. It would be an exciting and engaging expansion of the franchise as a new generation learns how to live long and prosper with the world of Star Trek.

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