'Star Trek: Discovery,' Movies and Prime Universe Could Reunite After CBS, Viacom Merger

CBS Corp. and Viacom are considering a merger which, as TrekMovie points out, could reunify the Star Trek movies and TV series, potentially teeing up a shared continuity between Star Trek: Discovery and the in-development Star Trek 4. The end of the Kelvin Timeline (or "Abramsverse") and the ascendancy of the Prime Universe could be at hand thanks to shareholder maneuverings rather than anything to do with Star Trek itself.

Variety reports CBS and Viacom are in the final stages of deciding Viacom's value as prelude to a CBS acquisition. This would place CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves in charge of the combined entity, including Viacom holding Paramount Pictures.

Currently, Star Trek exists in a strange limbo between the two companies. While CBS owns the Star Trek license, including the complete television library and merchandise, Paramount owns the movies and the right to make more movies. The split is largely a fiction, originally devised to pump stock prices, since both companies are already controlled by National Amusements, making this just as much a reorganization under a single corporate umbrella as a merger of independent companies.

The likely merger of the two could profoundly alter the course of the Star Trek movie series. Paramount created the Kelvin Timeline in 2009's Star Trek, spinning a parallel universe off from the continuity of the original Star Trek through the intervention of the Romulan Nero (Eric Bana), who travelled back in time and created the schism, in part by killing James T. Kirk's dad.

Nero's ship Narada created the Kelvin Timeline when it traveled through time altered the Prime Universe in 2009's "Star Trek." Paramount Pictures

Paramount and Producer J.J. Abrams, facing diminishing returns after Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond made less and less money, have been working to retool the series for Star Trek 4. The most recent efforts brings Quentin Tarantino—who pitched a plot idea rumored to be based on the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Yesterday's Enterprise"—into the fold.

The merger offers Paramount the opportunity to reconnect itself to the Prime Universe of the Star Trek TV series via Star Trek 4. While it was previously assumed that Star Trek 4 would continue with the same ensemble cast—one of the Kelvin Timelines' main strengths—the increased creative latitude offered by the Prime Universe might tempt Paramount into trying another reboot, this time aligned with the popular Star Trek: Discovery.

Shazad Latif and Sonequa Martin-Green in 'Star Trek: Discovery'
Shazad Latif and Sonequa Martin-Green in 'Star Trek: Discovery' CBS All Access

Star Trek 4 could use some sort of time convergence to reunite the disparate universes, giving Chris Pine's Kirk and Zachary Quinto's Spock a splashy sendoff. Or Star Trek 4 could be a Star Trek: Discovery movie. Or, if Tarantino really does want to make a feature-length riff on "Yesterday's Enterprise," Star Trek movies could return to the Star Trek: The Next Generation era (and James McAvoy could steal yet another role from Patrick Stewart).

Should the deal go through to reunite CBS and Viacom, the possibilities are expansive. Any effect on the movie or TV series would be pure speculation at this point, but strange new worlds are ahead for Star Trek.