It should not come as a shock to fans that Star Trek: Discovery‘s striking visuals do not come cheap. In fact, the cost to make the show look as impressive as it does is even higher than CBS All Access expected. Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman said in a recent interview that the show was initially under-budgeted for its special effects. Kurtzman explained:
“We were under-budgeted on visual effects, and as we started to grow we realized we needed more money allocated to that. The truth is there isn’t any one single house that could handle everything given the volume of CG we have, plus the turnaround itself. There’s a three-month window of turnaround time on work, and with so much work to do, sometimes different elements within a single shot will be divided between different houses that specialize in things like water or space or texture.”
Kurtzman also explained that the struggle to manage the show’s special effects was part of the reason the premiere was so delayed. Another part, of course, being that the show had to wait for star Sonequa Martin-Green to be released from her contract on ‘The Walking Dead.’
Somehow, ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ seems to have gotten the budget it needed. It was revealed that the series costs between $8 million and $8.5 million per episode to make, making it one of the most expensive television shows in history. Michelle Yeoh, who played Captain Philippa Georgiou in ‘Star Trek: Discovery’s’ two-part premiere spoke about the intensity of filming such a show:
“It was like shooting a movie, the scale of it. It wasn’t just ‘Quick, let’s get the shot. Move, move.'”
The show’s incredible special effects are a double-edged sword, as they contribute to the disconnect many fans feel between the visibly advanced technology on the series and the look of ‘Star Trek: The Original Series,’ which is supposed to take place a decade later. While it is probably too late to reconcile the visual elements of the shows at this point, showrunner Aaron Harberts has stated that other elements of canon will be addressed in the second season of ‘Discovery.’ Harberts said:
“That’s going to be a big discussion that we have in season two. What’s so fun about the character of Michael, just because she hasn’t been spoken about, doesn’t mean she didn’t exist. A lot of the writers on our show are deeply involved in ‘Star Trek,’ their knowledge is some of the finest around, they really do help us find areas where we can steer around things.”
‘Star Trek: Discovery’ returns to CBS All Access on January 7, 2018.