NEW YORK (Variety) - After conquering TV and theatrical films, Star Trek is about to explore the final frontier of filmed entertainment: Imax 3-D. Paramount and Trek executive producer Rick Berman are in serious discussions with Imax Corp. to create a Star Trek film.

The film will be shot in state-of-the-art Imax 3-D with CGI graphics, with a running time of about 40 minutes and a budget of around $10 million.

There's no deal yet and no script, but sources said the plan on the drawing board would be either to use the cast from the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Voyager series, or to cull characters from each. If that constellation of stars is unavailable, the third option is to assemble a new cast.

The development marks a warp-speed move forward for Imax, whose screen size and 3-D capabilities dwarf traditional moviehouses, but which so far has lacked a brand-name product like Star Trek. Most Imax pictures have been documentaries, along with several fiction productions, including L5: First City in Space and the Jean-Jacques Annaud-directed Wings of Courage, the latter produced by Sony and starring Val Kilmer.

Imax now has 150 theaters in 22 countries, with projected 20% screen growth for the next few years. Though the number of theaters is small compared to traditional hardtops, the ticket prices are about $9 per show, the films stay in theaters longer, and they can be shown up to 10 times per day. Paramount and Berman, always looking for new ways to feed the Trek audience, are eager to jump into Imax, though it's undecided whether the film will be financed jointly or only one will pick up the costs. The effort is being spearheaded by Berman, Imax chairman-co-CEO Bradley J. Wechsler and Andrew Gellis, Imax senior vice president of film. None of the principals would comment.

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