Michelle Yeoh’s ‘Section 31’ Is the Start of ‘Star Trek’ Phase 2 at Paramount+

Set course for Phase 2.

The next chapter of Alex Kurtzman’s Star Trek franchise at Paramount+ is beginning to come into focus. On Tuesday, the Paramount Global-backed streamer announced that its long-gestating Section 31 series will indeed be a movie that brings newly minted Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh back on board with a feature film rather than what was originally intended to be a spinoff of Discovery, which reignited Star Trek for the conglomerate.

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Sources say Kurtzman, whose Secret Hideout captains the Trek franchise under a nine-figure overall deal with producers CBS Studios, began making plans to convert Section 31 into a tentpole feature film for the platform last summer as insiders were nervous about oversaturating the iconic property. The idea to shift to tentpoles kicked in after Kurtzman, sources say, saw Everything Everywhere All at Once and realized the role would likely earn Yeoh an Oscar.

Between Yeoh’s schedule, fears of having too many shows going on at the same time in the franchise and a desire to enter the feature film event space, a decision was made to shift Section 31 into a movie. Amid her awards-season sweep, sources say Yeoh remained committed to returning to Kurtzman’s Star Trek fold and was on board to reprise her role as Emperor Philippa Georgiou in any capacity. The actress was the first person cast for Discovery and recurred in its first three seasons. Word about Section 31 first surfaced in 2018 with Yeoh in talks for the spinoff, which was formally put in to development a year later with the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon grad attached.

Sources say Section 31 is being envisioned as Mission: Impossible meets Guardians of the Galaxy, which with the big scope of both films would make doing a weekly series a larger challenge. The plan, sources note, is for Kurtzman and company to do a Star Trek made-for-streaming movie every two years for Paramount+.

It’s worth noting that Kurtzman, who co-wrote 2009’s Star Trek feature film and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, previously expressed interest in returning to the movie world with his franchise in a 2021 interview with THR tied to Star Trek: Prodigy, the kids-focused animated series he developed to help bring in new and considerably younger fans to the franchise.

Production on Section 31 will begin later this year. The teen-focused Star Trek: Starfleet Academy series, which was formally greenlit in March, will begin production in spring 2024 with an eye on launching in 2025, sources say. The third and final season of Star Trek: Picard wraps its run this week; Discovery spinoff Strange New Worlds returns in June for its sophomore season and has already been renewed for a third cycle. The adult animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks has also been renewed for a fifth season. The flagship series, Star Trek: Discovery, will premiere its fifth and final season in early 2024. All are exec produced by Kurtzman, whose larger goal is to not only revive the franchise but expand its reach to the next generation of viewers with programs that cater to demos that had been underserved.

Reps for Paramount+, CBS Studios and Kurtzman declined comment.

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