Star Trek Axanar represents a fan-fueled return to form. However, Star Trek Axanar needs legal permission to proceed. It doesn’t matter how good it is, or how much better it could be than Star Trek Beyond, if Paramount Pictures feels threatened by the independent film’s potential to draw eyes and dollars away from its own rebooted Star Trek franchise, it’s not likely to stop fighting it.
The very existence of Star Trek Axanar could derail the official franchise reboot more than Paramount might accomplish with the new look of Star Trek Beyond. Star Trek Axanar has talent behind it with big plans for success. In the age of Netflix and Hulu, that could mean big trouble for director Justin Lin and Star Trek Beyond. Star Trek Beyond has already soured critics after its all-action trailer release, and the coexistence of these two films is likely to polarize the fan base in a way that taxes Paramount’s pockets.
— Star Trek Fans #1 (@startrekfans_1) February 14, 2015
For those who didn’t know about Star Trek Axanar, many were introduced to the project through recent media reports of the lawsuit CBS is bringing against it. They feel the fan film, successfully funded via Indiegogo, violates copyright. But, Axanar producers believe they are following all the rules designated for fan-produced efforts. The problem is more than a copyright, but the potential backlash of fans who want to see Star Trek the way it used to be, versus the more contemporary vision that Justin Lin may have in store.
Looper mentioned why Star Trek Beyond could sidestep a potential audience.
“Star Trek has never been as popular as other sci-fi franchises, but it has a solid fan base—which Paramount apparently wants to alienate so that they can reach a broader audience. But that broader audience already doesn’t care about Star Trek. Geeks will just move on to a new franchise, leaving Star Trek alone and desperate to impress the cool kids that aren’t even paying attention.”
Even all the preliminary criticisms are just assumptions made from the teaser trailer, along with assumptions based on Justin Lin’s previous role as director of the majority of The Fast and the Furious franchise films. Justin Lin told SlashFilm why people shouldn’t judge his creation just yet.
“Well, its a minute and a half, you know… And again, there were other versions that were much more traditional and I can see where maybe the hardcore fans could probably see that as, ‘Oh.’ But with trailers you’re putting a two-hour movie into a minute and a half, and the one thing I wanted to make sure is that it hopefully represents that we are trying to be bold and take risks, whether we are successful or not, I don’t know.”
Star Trek Axanar could represent a new era in fan film professionalism. If beloved franchises, or even spectacular movies with awful sequels, can get rejuvenated via a big budget fan film, then this could represent an even grander revolutionary step in filmmaking than that brought about by affordable digital filmmaking technology. If the major studios can’t get it right, or go off in some awkward direction despite a core audience, then high budget fan films are a major league remedy.
— Nick Graff (@starfro67) December 24, 2015
On the other hand, not all fan films get it right. Some are weird extrapolations that veer off into territory with even less of an audience than a bad big studio film. In Axanar‘s case, there seems to be professionalism and love baked into the process.
This doesn’t mean Star Trek Axanar will be perfect, but it has the potential to make decision makers at the top of franchise film production take notice.
[Image via Star Trek Axanar]