Will J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot take their Star Wars beyond movies?

J. J. Abrams on the set of Star Trek Into Darkness

The Wrap reports that the Paramount/CBS scuffle over Star Trek merchandising rights prevented J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot from doing quite as much as they would have liked to with the franchise off-screen – and that struggle could have had a part in him signing on with Lucasfilm. His Star Wars contract may allow Abrams a hand in the Star Wars “television properties, theme park rides and spin-off films” that will emerge in the new era his Episode VII is spearheading.

As successful as “Star Trek” has been, few franchises match the profitability and cultural prominence of George Lucas’ space opera, which would be difficult for any director to pass up.

“Disney has always been oriented to multi-platform revenue stream situations,” Seth Willenson, a film library valuations expert, told TheWrap.

Moreover, Willenson notes that Abrams, who has a deal that is believed to include creative and profit participation in “Star Wars” inspired merchandise and spin-offs, will have more control in shaping the legacy of the Skywalker clan than he would have had with developing side projects for the “Star Trek” crew.

Granted, while Lucasfilm, and thus Disney, does own most of Star Wars free and clear, the franchise isn’t totally free of hurtles. 20th Century Fox has distribution rights to the first Star Wars “in perpetuity,” while the other 5 will revert to LFL in 2020. This could complicate things like box sets in the future, but for Abrams, that’s not going to be an immediate issue, or stop him from exploring multi-platform options.

Meanwhile, it’s Bryan Burk’s turn to talk about Episode VII and secrecy with /Film.

4 thoughts on “Will J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot take their Star Wars beyond movies?

  1. Jason Ward

    That article is full of unfounded statements. I’m not saying it is true or false, but really, there’s nothing backed up in that entire article at all.

    That said, of course Abrams is going to get profit points on the merchandise (or whatever it is they do in that crazy industry). But if we don’t know that value, we can’t even guess how lucrative it is.

    1. Dunc Post author

      Jason: Well, yes. That’s why it’s a ‘report.’ They’re not hiding that their source is ‘an individual with knowledge of the dispute.’ It’s unverified and will probably remain so for a good long time even if it’s true. No one is disputing that, least of all me.

  2. Paula

    Yeah. The whole split distribution thing is going to get hairy.

    Hopefully they can come to an arrangement that would be mutually beneficial….

  3. Aaron

    The unverified-ness aside, I find it fairly credible that Abrams is more than just a hired gun. If LFL had wanted nothing more than a director like Kershner or Marquand who comes in, does the job and leaves again, other candidates might have been a better choice. Abrams on the other hand seems to be a writer/director in the New Hollywood tradition, so I guess he’ll be a lot more involved in the crafting of the story and the overall story architecture including the process of linking the sequels to other TV, film and online content.
    I wouldn’t go as far as The Wrap and suggest that there is some Bad Robot masterplan at work here but I’m pretty sure that Abrams will at least try to do more than just Episode VII.

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