Well. Now we might know why, despite director J.J. Abrams recently claiming that we’d hear about a settlement, CBS and Paramount’s lawsuit against Axanar Productions is still going on.
Axanar is a fan film that’s been in limbo since CBS and Paramount filed a lawsuit against them last year, you can read up on all the twists and turns here. But this latest detail is one of the strangest.
In an in-depth profile about Star Trek fans and how the studio can win them back after Into Darkness, Buzzfeed revealed something interesting about J.J. Abrams’ remarks at last month’s Paramount-hosted Trek fan event last month, in which the director said Paramount’s lawsuit to halt the fan film was “going away.” Mainly that Abrams seems to have ad-libbed them completely.
As Buzzfeed notes:
A teleprompter over Abrams’ shoulder then scrolled to an ominous direction — “AD-LIB PENDING LAWSUIT” — but instead, moderator Adam Savage of MythBusters fame brought Lin to the stage to fanfare and applause, and started asking the filmmaker about what it was like to get to make a Star Trek movie.
But rather than not say something about the Axanar issue, Abrams then cut into Lin’s questions a few moments later with the following statement, which apparently he was making up on the fly:
A few months back there was a fan film, Axanar, that was getting made and there was this lawsuit that happened between the studio and these fans and Justin, I’ll tell the story because he probably wouldn’t, was sort of outraged by this as a long time fan. We started talking about it and realized this was not an appropriate way to deal with the fans.
The fans should be celebrating this thing. Fans of Star Trek are part of this world. So he went to the studio and pushed them to stop this lawsuit and now, within the next few weeks, it will be announced this is going away, and that fans would be able to continue working on their project.
“AD-LIB PENDING LAWSUIT” probably isn’t the most legally sound way of handling talking about ending a lawsuit. It’s likely that Paramount and CBS had their lawyers figure out the general idea of what Abrams could say on the matter—but it was still ad-libbed. It seems really unlikely that they’d let him say that it was absolutely, for sure “going away” just in case there were complications.
And there were immediately complications, as Alec Peters, the creator of Axanar, was in the audience of the event. He started texting the news of what must have certainly seemed like an official Paramount announcement the second he heard what was being said.
Additionally, Abrams’ comments also found their way to Axanar’s legal strategy—Axanar Productions quoted Abrams in an attempt to get a judge to declare that the film didn’t infringe on copyright. This was most definitely not in CBS or Paramount’s plans.
That’s a lot of consequences for an ad-lib.