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While the battle over the future of Viacom is being waged in the mansions of Beverly Hills and the halls overlooking Times Square, what happens in San Diego at Comic-Con could have a major impact on the business.
Among the issues at hand — as Sumner Redstone, and his daughter Shari, fight with Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman — is whether Viacom's studio, Paramount, should sell a hefty piece to a strategic investors: Dauman says yes, Redstone says no.
And Paramount's crown jewel this summer is "Star Trek Beyond," which opens nation-wide this weekend, as Star Trek turns 50. The pressure is on for this sequel to be a hit: Paramount is in sixth and last place among the major studios in terms of box office market share so far this year.
The bar has been set high: the last Star Trek film grossed $467 million worldwide. And Paramount spent a reported $150 million on the budget of the film and much more and marketing.
Here at Comic-Con, Paramount pulled out all the stops to appeal to die-hard fans and generate buzz for the film. It premiered "Star Trek Beyond" on the eve of the big Comic-Con weekend just steps from the convention center with the first ever outdoor IMAX premiere. The San Diego Symphony Orchestra played a live score while fireworks matched the action on the screen.
Initial reviews have been positive—the film has a 90 percent critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, and 99 percent of moviegoers who responded on the site say they want to see it.
In addition to the slew of fan-created art and gear sold on the floor of the convention center, the studio is hosting a number of panels, including one with William Shatner about the brand's fiftieth anniversary.
Another is called "Science, Smithsonian and Star Trek," including a curator at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. The range of Star Trek content is broad: MAC Cosmetics is offering a sneak peek and pre-sale of a new makeup line "inspired by the Women of Star Trek." And there's an art exhibit featuring 50 artists commemorating the anniversary.
And Star Trek is also a featured part of the new direct-to-consumer app created by Viacom's sister company — CBS All Access. There will be a number of conversations about the new Star Trek series being developed for 'CBS All Access' direct-to-consumer app.
Now the folks at Comic-Con are already thinking about the recently-announced fourth Star Trek film. And Shari and Sumner Redstone are likely thinking that a huge hit this weekend would make it more valuable to hold onto the studio.