Yesterday, Star Trek fans were up in arms at the news that CBS had filed a lawsuit seeking to shut down the hugely successful crowdfunded fan production Axanar, after a year of tolerating the project’s development. Also surprised? Axanar producer Alec Peters, who found out about it by reading said news. Ooh err.
Following the news breaking first from Hollywood Reporter yesterday, Peters has released an official statement from the Axanar production team about the suit. It states that not only would they be looking to settle with CBS and Paramount amicably—and in such a way that Axanar could somehow still happen—but also that no one had come into contact with him or the Axanar crew about the lawsuit before it hit news sites yesterday. (Kind of a dick move, considering Peters has supposedly been in contact with CBS multiple times about the development of Axanar.)
Here’s the statement in full, from the Axanar website:
This morning, I was greeted with news that our production company, Axanar Productions and I, personally, am being sued by CBS Studios, Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corporation for copyright infringement of Star Trek.
First of all, I was disappointed to learn about this through an article in an industry trade. For several years, I’ve worked with a number of people at CBS on Star Trek-related projects, and I would have hoped those personal relationships would have warranted a phone call in advance of the filing of a legal complaint. Nevertheless, I know I speak for everyone at Axanar Productions when I say it is our hope that this can be worked out in a fair and amicable manner.
Axanar is a fan film. Fan films – whether related to Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Power Rangers, Batman or any other franchise – are labors of love that keep fans engaged, entertained, and keep favorite characters alive in the hearts of fans. Like other current fan films, AXANAR entered production based on a very long history and relationship between fandom and studios. We’re not doing anything new here.
Like all fan films, AXANAR is a love letter to a beloved franchise. For nearly 50 years, Star Trek’s devotees have been creating new Star Trek stories to share with fellow fans. That’s all we’re trying to do here.
Since the original Star Trek TV series, when the letter writing campaign by fans got NBC to greenlight a third season of Star Trek, fan support has been critical to the success of the franchise. It is the Star Trek fans themselves who are most affected here, for by suing Axanar Productions to stop making our movie and collect so-called damages, CBS and Paramount are suing the very people who have enthusiastically maintained the universe created by Gene Roddenberry so many years ago.
The fact that many of the fans involved with Axanar Productions are also industry professionals speaks volumes to the influence of Star Trek in the entertainment industry. Not surprisingly, these fans want to give something back. We’re very proud that the work we’ve done to date looks so good. That is also a reflection of the devotion of Star Trek’s fans.
Like everything related to Axanar Productions, we take this matter very seriously and remain open to discussing solutions with all parties that can be mutually beneficial.
What we’ve seen of Axanar so far—a pretty lavish 20 minute “Prelude” and some insight from Robert Meyer Burnett earlier this year—was impressive and intriguing. Hopefully Peters and the rest of the team behind it can salvage something out of this mess that means we get to see this Trek fan film in some form at the end of it all.