Star Trek The Motion Picture- The Rebirth of a Franchise
“The human adventure is just beginning..."
"Ten years ago, a television phenomenon became a part of life, shared in 47 different languages, read in 469 publications, and seen by 1.2 billion people. A common experience remembered around the world. Now Paramount Pictures brings the memory to life."
“After an eighteen-month refit process, the USS Enterprise is ready to explore the galaxy once again. But when a huge, invincible cloud approaches Earth Admiral James T Kirk must assume command of his old ship in order to stop it. Crew members old and new face new challenges, and must work together to triumph over the unknown.”
That was the press release that Paramount Pictures put out before the 1979 release of the movie that would revive the Star Trek franchise. Now, with the recent release of the directors edition of STTMP, the original release of the movie shows just what a big impact the movie had on the franchise even if people at the time, didn't realize it.
Star Trek The Motion Picture (TMP) was set 10 years after the original “5 year mission” of The Original Series. I put that in quotes, because the original series only aired for 3 seasons before being cancelled and the other two years of the mission were never televised.
Star Trek's popularity continued to grow throughout the 70’s in part because the show was being played in syndication on many channels around the world, and the memory of Star Trek was being kept alive by a few very devoted,vocal fans of the show. Because of this and because Gene Rodenberry felt like he wasn't able to tell the whole story that he wanted to tell of Star Trek because of it’s cancellation, the idea of rebooting the show was becoming a real possibility. The creators of Star Trek came up with an idea for a new show called Star Trek Phase II to bring Star Trek back to television. The show was well into development when a popular little movie called Star Wars was released in 1977. The huge success of Star Wars put a halt to the idea of a new Star Trek TV show and plans were shifted to that of a Star Trek feature film. The hope was to revive Star Trek with a feature film and that it would have the same success that Star Wars had enjoyed.
But,The Motion Picture had many difficulties during production. Story idea conflicts and cast members who did not want to return to the Star Trek Universe were just a couple of the problems. Leonard Nimoy was very much against reprising his role as the famous Mr. Spock, and a new actor was actually cast as a different Vulcan to take his place. Fortunately, Mr Nimoy did sign on at the last minute though.
Budget over-runs were also a serious problem. It was a very expensive film to make, with a production budget topping $35 million ($136,000,000 in 2017 dollars.) With a big part of the budget problems being caused by the high cost of the special effects. CGI was just in it's infancy and was very expensive. Actual models were used for the ships and these beautiful models were so detailed and so carefully made that the costs of the special effects pushed the original estimated budget of around 13 million through the roof.
Even with all the trouble getting it made,Star Trek TMP was released on December 7, 1979 and although it was a box office disappointment, grossing only 82 million, it still had a huge impact on the universe of Sci-Fi. The special effects were cutting edge and helped earn the movie 3 Oscar nominations. Most importantly,Star Trek The Motion Picture had revived the Star Trek franchise.
I can still remember when I was about 9 years old seeing Star Trek The Motion Picture in the local theater with my family. I was fascinated!! I was in awe seeing my Star Trek being brought back to the screen with a new adventure. I also remember being blown away by the special effects!! They were light years beyond anything they were able to do in the original series. I hoped this was just the beginning,and it was. The franchise has now had 6 TV shows and 13 movies. I don't think Star Trek is going anywhere!!
I've included the re-mastered original trailer for Star Trek TMP. It's really neat to see it again if you haven't seen it for a long time. If you're new to Star Trek, Check it out...It's definitely dated,but maybe it'll make you curious enough to check out the Universe of Star Trek!!