It's been an incredible year for Star Trek fans, with both Picard's final adventure and Strange New Worlds Season 2. The third wave of the storied franchise finally hit the sweet spot between new and nostalgia most fans wanted to see. There are more TV shows in production than at any time in its 57-year history. Yet one more, Star Trek: Legacy, could be a proving ground for a return to a successful feature film series.

Currently, there is no live-action Star Trek in production. Both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA were forced to strike when studio negotiators failed to do their jobs. Paramount once again benefited from a group of filmmakers and actors who made their oldest franchise stronger than ever. However, save for the animated Star Trek: Prodigy, Starfleet flies exclusively on streaming. Once the studios realize they stand only to gain more profit by seeing reason and making a fair deal, Paramount will want to bring their most valuable intellectual properties to both TV and the big screen. Some studios throw far too much money at their franchise pictures. However, Star Trek perfected the TV-to-movie pipeline in 1982. Yet, instead of having to wait seven-to-ten years to get from the small screen to the big one, Star Trek: Legacy could speed up that process considerably.

RELATED: Star Trek: Legacy Could Bring Saavik Closure and Introduce Spock's Kid

Star Trek Stalled at the Movies, Because TV Is What Sustains It

Chris Pine and the rest of the cast looking worried in Star Trek Beyond

Some executives believe "confusion" around streaming explains why certain franchise films failed to meet box office expectations. It's not confusing. It's inflation. When costs go up, entertainment is the first thing to feel it. For the price of a night at the movies for a family of four, they could subscribe to every major streaming service. Even the ad-free plans, if they also buy snacks at the theater. Star Trek: Beyond disappointed people because it was given the budget of a Marvel or Star Wars movie. But Star Trek has always brought TV's cost-consciousness to their moviemaking, for better or worse. It's no accident the only Star Trek film in the offing before the strikes was Michelle Yeoh's standalone movie.

Despite what people who get really excited about Criterion sales think, streaming television is incredibly cinematic. Strange New Worlds just delivered ten movies each week during Season 2, and one of them was even a musical. Similarly, Picard Season 3 was a film trilogy all rolled into one. Just as Discovery did for Michelle Yeoh, Star Trek: Legacy could deliver satisfying, cinematic television with characters and stories fit for feature spinoffs. Since Star Trek is lousy with time travel, any era is on-the-table. A character or setting that works on the show could be spun off into a feature film with a reasonable budget.

Rumors of a Philippa Georgiou-focused spinoff circulated long before Michelle Yeoh won an Oscar. Yet, without two-and-a-half seasons of Discovery, she doesn't exist. Legacy would be set at a time equivalent to what's passed in the real world since The Next Generation era. New characters might capture audiences' imagination, but returning characters might also command their own film. Even Patrick Stewart is open to returning as Picard for a movie. Star Trek: Legacy could be the springboard that launches Star Trek back to the movies.

RELATED: Strange New Worlds Bosses Tease More Legacy Star Trek Characters in Future Seasons

Star Trek Movies Have to Appeal to All Audiences, Not Just Trekkies

Kirk and Spock while Spock is dying in The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a success, almost in spite of itself. The film was plagued with production issues and an overblown budget. Harve Bennett, Ralph Winter and Nicholas Meyer joined forces and produced a trilogy of cheaper films. Yet, The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home are beloved by diehard fans and then-casual moviegoers. They brought television sensibility to production, resulting in some of the most profitable Star Trek films of all time. Picard delivered its most cinematic and exhilarating season on a smaller budget than most would think. Star Trek: Legacy would likely pull off a similar budgetary magic trick that would carry over to any spinoff films.

The possibilities in this new Golden Age of Star Trek are endless. Star Trek: Legacy could set up a story with new characters or returning favorites from any era of the timeline. The Enterprise-G could pop in on Discovery's future. They could sideswipe the multiverse and check on the Kelvin Timeline in The Next Generation era. Beyond just compelling and fun adventures, any one of the episodes could include the character that kicks off the "next" Wrath of Khan. It could be a standalone adventure or, like the TOS movies, be chapters of a continuing narrative. Films like Barbie and Oppenheimer are redefining what qualifies as an "event" movie. Star Trek: Legacy could possibly do that, too.

The cinematic quality of the modern Star Trek series almost works against their chances at the box office. Any budget increase for the big screen would only amount to a marginal improvement, probably limited to camera setups or location shots. But Star Trek already proved it doesn't need a massive budget like the 21st-century movies. Smart filmmaking, rich characters and, most importantly, a good story are all they need. Legacy could plant the (space) seeds that grow into the next great film series. As Bennett, Meyer and company proved in 1982, sometimes the path to Star Trek's future runs squarely through its past.