This article contains new information about the upcoming Starfleet Academy Star Trek series.
Star Trek: Starfleet Academy is an upcoming Star Trek television series that was announced more than 2 years ago. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard much about it since.
- What is the Starfleet Academy in the Star Trek universe?
- Star Trek: Starfleet Academy Series
- Development Problems of Starfleet Academy
- New Starfleet Academy Details
- Is Starfleet Academy Canceled?
What is the Starfleet Academy in the Star Trek universe?
Starfleet Academy is a Star Trek University where recruits are trained to become Starfleet officers. It was created in the year 2161 when the United Federation of Planets was founded. The main campus of the Academy is located on or near Starfleet headquarters on Earth, in California. There are also other campuses: for example, Tom Paris studied at a campus in Marseille, France.
Admitted students undergo a four-year program of academics and training, after which they are typically commissioned as ensigns. Non-Federation citizens must present a letter of recommendation from a command-level officer in Starfleet before they can take the entrance examination.
Star Trek: Starfleet Academy Series
Back in June of 2018, it was announced that Alex Kurtzman’s production studio Secret Hideout had extended their output deal with CBS Television Studios. Together with this announcement, Variety was able to reveal several details about some upcoming (now released) Star Trek series. One of these tidbits of info was about a potential Starfleet Academy live-action series on CBS All Access. The series is set at Starfleet Academy and is being developed by Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz. This show is expected to skew towards the young-adult market and would follow cadets through Starfleet Academy in San Francisco.
Multiple attempts have been made in the past to use Starfleet Academy in more ambitious ways than one-off episodes of Star Trek shows set at the university (though to be fair, the Starfleet Academy Star Trek episodes are generally very well received by fans). In 1997, a videogame with a story surrounding the Academy, called Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, was released by Interplay and High Voltage Software. The videogame is a PC simulation game that has you follow human cadet David Forester (portrayed by Peter Kluge) and simulate the life of a typical Starfleet cadet. The object of the player is to learn the basics of flying a starship so that you can eventually become a captain of your own ship. It includes a simulation battle mode in which the player can pilot and fight ships of their choosing.
This CBS All Access Starfleet Academy series actually isn’t the first time the university has been considered for a television series! A TV show based on the Starfleet Academy was proposed decades ago but never produced. An early draft of the script to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country featured a flashback to Captain Kirk’s time at the academy. According to producer Harve Bennett, that version of the sixth film got as far as preliminary casting, allegedly with offers made to Ethan Hawke for the role of Captain Kirk and John Cusack as Spock.
Development Problems of Starfleet Academy
Just as how that old Starfleet Academy series was unable to get off the ground, this new CBS All Access production has been facing the same problem. Fans have been waiting for this series for years, though unfortunately, they will have to wait a little bit longer, as the series is currently stuck in development
The problem lies with the distribution rights of the Star Trek series. Showrunners/series creators Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz currently have an output deal with Apple that does not allow them to develop television series for competing streaming services. It is currently unclear what happened to these deal negotiations.
This all becomes even more complicated when you keep in mind that Paramount+ most likely also wants a piece of this Starfleet cake. As I explained in an article over at The Cinema Spot, Paramount+ is restricting the international distribution of some of their CBS All Access titles, to prepare them for international distribution on Paramount+. The plan is to overhaul their CBS All Access streamer with a new name, a new program design, a competitive price, new content, and most importantly, international distribution. CBS All Access has only ever been available in the US. This has caused ViacomCBS to sell the distribution rights to their series to international streamers like Netflix and Amazon, a decision that ViacomCBS is now regretting. The media conglomerate is planning to launch its rebrand in 2021, with CBS All Access becoming available to more and more countries in the next few years, as Paramount+. International availability is set to be achieved in phases, with phase 1 countries being Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Sweden, Norway, and Finland.
Essentially, ViacomCBS wants to keep the distribution rights to the Star Trek franchise in phase 1 countries. However, the bigger streamers like Netflix and Amazon want global rights, which includes the right to distribute Star Trek titles in ViacomCBS’s phase 1 countries. Due to all of this, Star Trek: Lower Decks is only available to be watched in the US on CBS All Access (unlike past titles like Star Trek: Discovery and Picard which you could watch outside of the US, on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video respectively). It is likely that the Starfleet Academy show will have to go through the same logistic nightmare.
New Starfleet Academy Details
The Starfleet Academy Star Trek series takes place after the third season of Star Trek: Discovery. In the third episode of the third season, the crew of the USS Discovery finally arrives in the future version of the Starfleet Academy on earth. The Starfleet Academy we see in the episode is purposefully modeled after one of Toronto University’s newer campuses. The idea behind this decision is that they can physically use Toronto University’s newer campuses in the future to film the Starfleet Academy series. This is why the Academy had such a big presence in episode three, near the end.
The Starfleet Academy series is, from what I understand, set to further explore the futuristic time period that was first explored by Star Trek: Discovery season 3. The series will follow the Academy and its students as they try to re-establish the Federation and Starfleet, in the future. The series takes place on “New Earth,” which is the future version of earth that we saw in Star Trek: Discovery season 3.
Is Starfleet Academy Canceled?
It is currently unclear how far along development is on the series, though I believe that it is not canceled. A few months ago, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy applied for pre-production tax credits in Ontario, Canada, for its first season. This implies that the studio still plans to develop the series. The tax-credit situation, combined with the fact that season 3 of Discovery established the backstory of the series, means the series most likely is not canceled.
It is likely that this Starfleet Academy series will be moving to the CW network, which CBS owns 50% of. The CW Television Network (commonly referred to as just The CW) is a free-to-air television network. The network is known for its original series such as The Vampire Diaries, The Arrowverse shows, Jane The Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and more. Seeing as how The CW is a network and not a streaming service, Savage and Schwartz’s Apple TV+ output deal should not prevent this show from airing on The CW.
Star Trek: Discovery is currently airing its third season, with season 4 already being in production. Season 3 Episode 5, titled “Die Trying,” is set to release on the 12th of November, 2020. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is set to start production in January of 2021, with the Section 31 series planning an April 2021 start.