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  • Writer's pictureAaron Fonseca

Michelle Yeoh's Section 31 Movie Begins Phase 2 of Star Trek on Paramount+

Star Trek: Discovery's long-gestating Section 31 spinoff series starring Michelle Yeoh has officially been reworked into a tentpole feature film -- and it's set to serve as the maiden voyage for the second phase of Star Trek on Paramount+.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Yeoh-led Section 31 streaming film is expected to kick off "Phase 2" of Paramount+'s modern Star Trek television franchise, which initially began in 2017 with the premiere of the aforementioned Discovery. This news comes as Star Trek boss Alex Kurtzman's vision for the small-screen franchise post-Discovery and post-Picard begins to take shape. Sources say that as part of this vision, Kurtzman and his team plan to release a new Paramount+-exclusive Star Trek film every two years.

Apparently, Kurtzman first had the idea to rework Yeoh's Section 31 spinoff into a movie last summer, as insiders were worried about the potential oversaturation of Star Trek streaming shows. Moreover, Kurtzman was inspired to shift the Star Trek franchise's focus to tentpoles after seeing Yeoh in the film Everything Everywhere All at Once, which he believed would win the veteran actor an Oscar. Of course, his prediction was ultimately correct. On a similar note, Yeoh's busy schedule also factored into the decision to retool the nature of her long-awaited Star Trek project.

The Development of Star Trek's Section 31 Spinoff

Yeoh made her Star Trek debut as Captain Philippa Georgiou in the first episode of Discovery, which franchise executive producer Kurtzman co-created with Bryan Fuller. While Captain Georgiou was killed off very early into the show's run, Yeoh returned to play her Mirror-Universe counterpart, Emperor Philippa Georgiou, starting with the latter half of Season 1 in 2018. Yeoh continued to play Mirror Georgiou on Discovery through Season 3 in 2020.

It was in January 2019 that plans were announced for Yeoh to reprise her role as Mirror Georgiou in order to lead a Discovery spinoff series focusing on Section 31, which is essentially Starfleet's black-ops division. Kurtzman would return as an executive producer, with Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt being tapped as showrunners. Shortly thereafter, however, now-former Paramount exec Julie McNamara hinted that new Star Trek shows -- such as Yeoh's spinoff -- would not debut until existing ones ended. "Some of these [series] can be considered as replacements as opposed to additions," McNamara said in 2019.

Despite long periods of radio silence on the matter over the course of four years, the powers that be seemed confident that Yeoh's Star Trek spinoff would indeed see the light of day at some point. "Yes, we are still in development on Section 31, so there will be more news on that soon," Paramount+ executive Nicole Clemens said in February 2022. Nearly one whole year later, fellow Paramount exec Tanya Giles confirmed that the series was "still in development". Not long after, Kurtzman himself commented that he and his team were "still very excited about Section 31." This all culminated in Paramount+'s recent announcement that the project would be released as a film.

Yeoh's Section 31 streaming film will be the first Star Trek feature to hit screens since the 2016 theatrical release Star Trek Beyond, the third and, to date, final installment in producer J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot timeline. A sequel to Beyond has been in varying stages of development for years, though is currently in a state of limbo, having been pulled from Paramount Pictures' release slate after losing its director last year. Section 31 will also be the first Star Trek feature to spin directly out of a TV show since 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, which itself wrapped up the Next Generation era.

As previously alluded to, the news surrounding Yeoh's film also comes at a time when the Star Trek TV franchise is in a bit of a transitional period. Star Trek: Picard is coming to an end after three seasons, with the series finale set to drop on Paramount+ this week. It was recently confirmed that Discovery would also ending with its fifth season, which is expected to hit the platform early next year. Meanwhile, Discovery spinoff Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is set to debut its second season on Paramount+ this summer, with a third season already on the way.

Finally, the animated shows Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek: Prodigy are gearing up for new seasons on Paramount+ as well. As far as live-action "replacements" for Discovery and Picard go, a Star Trek series focusing on Starfleet Academy was given a series order at Paramount+ last month.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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