Like many other writers and directors, Alex Kurtzman grew up worshiping movies.
But he’s adaptable — and in the era of streaming, it’s a very lucrative trait.
Mr. Kurtzman, a former writer of the movie “Transformers” and the director of the 2017 movie “The Mummy” Recently, he renegotiated his contract at CBS Studios to one of the wealthiest ones there. Under a $ 160 million five-and-a-half-year contract, he will continue to lead the world of growing “Star Trek” television for ViacomCBS’s Paramount + streaming platform.
He also includes a limited series based on “The Man Who Fallen to Earth” directed for Showtime, and the long-awaited adaptation of Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Cavalier & Crazy’s Amazing Adventures”. Create a show. clay. “The limited series may be sold to external streaming services.
Kurtzman’s deal creates content for prolific producers such as Netflix’s Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy, and Amazon Studios Jordan Peele to meet insatiable consumer needs and increase streaming subscriptions. A series of up-to-date with the aim of giving you a free hand rope for. It puts the ambitions of CBS Studios, the network and channel production division under ViacomCBS, into the hands of 47-year-old Kurtzman.
“From the first meeting with Alex, it was clear that he was our future,” George Cheeks, president and chief executive officer of CBS Entertainment Group, said in an interview. “A man can grow for broadcasting. He can develop for premium streaming, a wide range of streaming. He understands the business. He has tremendous empathy. He is creatively agile.
“When making these investments, we need to know that this talent can actually deliver multiple projects on multiple platforms at the same time,” Cheeks continued.
For ViacomCBS, the road ahead is not easy. Its fledgling Paramount + is a slow entry into streaming, essentially a rebranded and enhanced version of CBS All Access. Along with “Mountain of Movies,” the company advertises service news and live sports such as national football league games. (“Quiet Place 2” debuted on July 13th.) But Paramount +, in combination with the smaller Showtime streaming service, 36 million subscribers as of May..
We hope to reach 65 to 75 million global subscribers by 2024, but still far from Netflix’s global coverage of about 210 million and Disney +’s about 104 million. Even NBCUniversal announced Thursday that it has 54 million subscribers to the Peacock streaming service, thanks to the Olympic push.
Also, as integration enthusiasts consume Hollywood, many analysts aren’t convinced that ViacomCBS can continue to compete with large companies on its own.
“It’s hard to imagine these companies doing it alone. I think they’re all too small,” said Richard Greenfield, an analyst at LightShed Partners. “Whether Peacock, Paramount +, Disney +, or Hulu, these companies are all about what to put on linear TV, what to put in cinema, what to put in streaming. It’s still in conflict.
“Netflix, Amazon and Apple don’t have that kind of discussion every day,” he added. “All their assets will be one. Here we have to balance, which makes all streaming services suboptimal.”
The considerations of these companies do not seem to bother Mr. Kurtzmann. Rather than lamenting the film’s decline or suffering from a shortage of viable buyers as the market shrinks, he feels the current climate is creatively vibrant and highly fluid. Said that.
“I believe the line between film and television is gone. That’s a big opportunity for me,” he said in an interview. “For me, and for showrunners like me, we can tell stories in new ways. We are not limited to the narrow definition of how to tell a story. Tell something in 10 hours. , I need to tell something in 2 hours. “
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Kurtzman started working at CBS in 2009 and developed a reboot of “Hawaii Five-0” with his former writing partner Roberto Orci. In 2017, after co-authoring two Star Trek films directed by JJ Abrams a few years ago, he began to rethink the company’s Star Trek world as he was familiar with the franchise. ..
Since then, he has produced five shows in space first imagined by Gene Roddenberry in the 1960s, all at Paramount +. They are “Star Trek: Discovery”. “Star Trek: Picard”; “Star Trek: Lower Deck”; “Star Trek: Prodigy” debuting in the fall. According to ViacomCBS, Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard are one of the most watched original series on Paramount +.
We are also working on a show built around “Section 31” starring Michelle Yeoh and “Starfleet Academy” for young people.
But how much “Star Trek” do you need on one planet?
“I think we’re just getting started,” Curtsman said. “There are many more.”
He recently finished a four-month filming in London in the first half of the 10-episode series The Man Who Fell to Earth, based on the 1976 David Bowie film. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays a new alien character that has arrived on Earth at a turning point in human evolution.
Kurtzmann said he loves the experience of working in the series, supported by the fact that the pandemic gave him and his writing partner Jenny Lumet the opportunity to complete all the episodes before the production began. Said.
“If I had made this as a movie, I wouldn’t have done anything completely different,” he said. “I work with movie stars from three different countries, and I’m certainly shooting sequences that aren’t typical TV sequences. All of this can only be done because of my experience in cinema.”
Mr. Lumet met Mr. Kurtzman in 2015. After watching the movie “Rachel Getting Married” she wrote, he demanded that he get together. Lumet said he was surprised that this “khaki sci-fi robot man” was totally interested in seeing her.
“All he wanted to do was talk about the little moments of the movie, the little real moments of the movie, the little moments of the TV show. He was very kind and glad to listen,” she says. I did. “Usually the robot guys don’t want to hear anything. That’s all he wanted to do. It was really cool.”
They have worked on everything from Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: The Strange New World to the short-lived Clarisse and the Man Who Fallen to Earth. Next, in a limited showtime series, I’ll be working on the story of Lumet’s grandmother Lena Horne.
People around Mr. Kurtzman said his early television experience (“aliases,” “fringes,” and “Sleepy Hollow”) allowed him to manage multiple projects at once without being overwhelmed. I admit it. “He has the almost supernatural ability to keep separate tracks in this show, this show, and in the head of this show, and he can jump from one to the other,” Lumet said. Said. “He is one of the few who can keep all trains running.”
His work as a film writer began with Michael Bay’s 2005 film The Island.Soon he and Mr Orchi were called “Hollywood Secret Weapon” Due to the ability of others to crack scripts for favorable existing properties (such as “Transformers”) that others couldn’t. That’s why he began to consider “Star Trek” in the same vast language that Marvel Studios sees in the movie world. This is a strategy that CBS Studios has thoroughly approved.
David Stapf, president of CBS Studios, points out “Star Trek: Prodigy” as an example. One of the first animated “Star Trek” shows for kids, the animated show will debut in the fall of Paramount + before moving to Nickelodeon.
“It obviously fosters a much younger generation of fans and helps consumer products,” Stapf said. “But it’s also a smart way to consider building the entire universe.”
For Stapf, who has been directing CBS Studios since 2004, the “wonder” of “Star Trek” has many implications.
“Anything is possible, as long as it fits into the” Star Trek “spirit of inspiration, optimism, and the general idea that humanity is good,” he said. “If you name a genre, such as comedy, adult animation, kids animation, there’s probably a” Star Trek “version. “
This is good news for Kurtzman, who wants to be even stranger in the franchise, which is celebrating his 55th birthday this year. He refers to the pitch from Graham Wagner (“Portlandia”, “Silicon Valley”) centered around the character Worf, which he calls “incredibly entertaining, inspirational and inspiring.” I’m out.
“If it were left to me alone, I would be pushing the boundaries far beyond what most people would want,” he said. “I think we might get there. Marvel has proved that you can actually do it. But to get there you need to build a specific foundation and we still build the foundation. doing.”
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