Abrams: Star Trek Not For The Fans Alone [UPDATED]

While JJ Abrams is out doing promotional interviews for the upcoming DVD release of Cloverfield (which he produced) some Trek talk is slipping through. Even though last week Abrams touted the respect for Roddenberry’s vision, in some new interviews the Star Trek director made it clear that his new Trek is going to be ‘realer’ than ever before and targeting a whole new audience.

Abrams on Trek’s audience

The audience we’re making this movie for is people who love movies, not people who love Star Trek movies. … I’m not saying we’re not honoring what’s come before, (but) if we made this movie for them alone, we would be limiting our audience like crazy.

Based on sales of the last two Trek films and ratings for Enterprise, it is clear why Abrams (and Paramount) are targeting a larger audience. However, with these latest interviews you can see how Abrams is really trying to thread the needle between honoring past Trek and Trek fans, while making it clear to the mainstream movie going audience (and press) that Star Trek is for them too.

UPDATE: More on Trek from Abrams

The challenge of (“Star Trek”) is to take something that — despite the baggage of what came before — was imaginative and unreal and make it feel as real as possible

On what defines Abrams films and TV series

If there is a through-line in the stuff I’ve been able to work on, it is taking stories that are out there and combining them with people who are us

Abrams on Cloverfield and sequel
In another interview, Abrams talked about his ‘less is more’ approach to Cloverfield

It becomes more effective to have fewer money shots, like ‘Alien’ and ‘Jaws.’ When you’re not actually seeing things but anticipating them, it can be much more terrifying. We really tried to take the position that less is more. There are definitely shots where you see the whole thing, but we didn’t want to make something where you felt it was becoming overdone.

But regarding a possible Cloverfield sequel, Abrams was his usual enigmatic self

There’s no commitment to doing a follow-up. Unless there was something that really inspired us.

Cloverfield comes out on DVD tomorrow and, with salesman perfection, Abrams lets you know why you need to buy it:

The thing about this movie — probably more than any I think — is that it is better on DVD than in the theater. Because the movie is like a videotape. It lives on your TV. In many ways, it is supposed to be viewed on a (TV) monitor

More at Chron.com and Canadian Press and Reuters

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bgiles73
April 21, 2008 3:05 pm

Any way I’ll be glad when May 09 gets here.

CmdrR
April 21, 2008 3:05 pm

Just noticing that the mystery in Cloverfield that was so much a part of the viral campaign and the studio trailers… is shot to s*$% in the DVD promotions. You see the monster. No mystery. It’s a monster, folks. Good clear view. Monster. (I know, we’re never sure if it’s a space monster or a sea monster or an A-bomb mutant monster, but still…) If Cloverfield’s appeal was suspense, that’s gone baby, gone.

Tim GER
April 21, 2008 3:06 pm

It´s Logical

CmdrR
April 21, 2008 3:10 pm

Is it just me or does this photo of JJ look like the poster from Disney’s “The Producer Wore Tennis Shoes.” (He looks like a teenaged Kurt Russell.)

Negotiator
April 21, 2008 3:11 pm

JJ better not apply his “less is more” approach to the Enterprise.

trekkie1415
April 21, 2008 3:15 pm

I felt very uncomfortable while watching Cloverfield. I love suspense movies and I love action movies and horror movies, but something about Cloverfield really got to me.

I’m defiantly going to buy the DVD someday, but I’m not in a hurry. I’m still detoxing from watching it 2 nights in a row in theaters, and its been 3 months.

Green-Blooded-Bastard
April 21, 2008 3:17 pm

#2 CmdrR

It’s a space monster… End of the movie when they flashback to the two kids on the ferris wheel, you can see the thing fall out of the sky and into the ocean behind them like a huge comet.

Phil
April 21, 2008 3:22 pm

Yoo hoo. Good to see that I’m not the only one who spotted that.

CmdrR
April 21, 2008 3:22 pm

Dammit! One more part of the mystery spoiled!

I just mean that DVD promotions are even less respectful of the material than theatrical trailers, and that’s going some!

There’s also that $100 action figure of the space monster out there.

Could still be a fun flick on DVD.

April 21, 2008 3:28 pm
Me thinks me main geezah Sir JJ™ be all caught up in studio talk wif dem bosses, aiiight? The fact that it is a Star Trek movie defines it as for the fans alone. SO let’s assume there are 3 main factions out there. The fans, those who totally hate it, and the last one let’s call the indifferent. No Star Trek story is going to be for anyone other than the fans. The hataz are never coming around. So you hope to pull in the indifferents. How you do that is not the story so much as making this an event. Which Kirk Russell and dem blokes is doing. So it’s not just “the next” star trek movie, for the hardcore fans. I mean come on are there, or were there prior to, any “Cloverfield” or even “Lost” fans? Its a difficult relationship once you cultivate it. Sir JJ certainly has created it with the Lost. He does Lost, right? Anyway… My point is this, as it always is. It’s like that dude, Warren Beatty. How does you keep Annette Bening married to you, yet you still go out like a playa and hits it all around? You expect her to be faithful. You have to cheat, by nature, but she can’t. You’re a man, you’re a man, that’s all you am. Think about the instincts here. Think about what’s happening in nature with the animals on the most primitive levels. It’s total cake and eat it too. But… Read more »
BrF
April 21, 2008 3:32 pm

The “This isn’t just for the diehard fans” line gets trotted out for every new Star Trek film. (For the reissued collectible figures, no. But for the films, yes.) Who knows if it’s what the studios believe or what they hope or what they just feel obligated to say? But it’s simply an reflexive defensive gesture. They *have* to say it. I don’t know if it really means anything one way or the other.

April 21, 2008 3:36 pm

I don’t know anyone who went to “Cloverfield” who didn’t know going in that it was a big ol’ “Godzilla” monster. So that’s no spoiler.

What it looked like was pretty much unknown.

AJ
April 21, 2008 3:39 pm

JJ has to tow the corporate line. He is given a set of boundaries by a Corporate Affairs Dept. for when he interviews, and because the outlay is vast to make Trek, and the message to shareholders is “we’ll deliver the goods.”

Shareholders probably always ask, well “Trek tanked on big and small screen, so why is this different.?” JJ has Cred with Lost , and his association with Cloverfield. And he’s saying “Trust Me.”

Green-Blooded-Bastard
April 21, 2008 3:43 pm

Ha! Sorry CmdrR.

I personally didn’t like Cloverfield at all, however, given JJ Abrams reputation and body of work, I really believe him able to pull off a spectacular Star trek. He makes the kind of movies that make you want to pay to go see them.

Anthony Thompson
April 21, 2008 3:48 pm

10. hitch1969

Are you hoping for a hiphop soundtrack for the movie? Now THAT would bring in a new audience!

Denise de Arman
April 21, 2008 3:48 pm

Abrams has many interviews do to between now and May 2009. Let him cast his nets and reel in the fish.

I Love My Moogie
April 21, 2008 4:04 pm

“Based on sales of the last two Trek films and ratings for Enterprise, it is clear why Abrams (and Paramount) are targeting a larger audience”

Enterprise (seasons 1-3) & TNG movies tanked because they stunk, not because there wasn’t a core fanbase. Berman chased us away.

Now that the film is in the can, JJ’s most recent interviews are shifting away from honoring/rebooting & towards reinventing TOS for those who never had interest in it before. He just did an interview for the LA Daily News where he notes preference for Star Wars over Trek, which he never noted before & during production.

To change the core TOS doesn’t make sense, if someone isn’t a fan they are not going to be swayed, though I fear for myself, this revisioned TOS will sway me in the opposite direction.

I’m not saying this to be negative, but this direction is chasing me, a 42 year fan, away from the franchise. TOS was about great writing & acting—not FX, action & CGI sets.

As I’ve been made aware, some here disagree with me, but I hope you will respect my sincerity on this subject just as I respect your enthusiasm for this film.

April 21, 2008 4:09 pm

re 15. Anthony Thompson

Nah dude, I’m a purist like JC™. It’s gotta be the standard orchestrated stuff. I thought even STIV was pushing it a bit to include the punk stuff, even given the time travel story.

And let me go on record here for a sec to say that just because we talk about it in theory here, it ain’t cool to step out on your lady. I want all of the impressionable children who may read this to know that old h69 does not condone adultery or any of the other major commandments being broken. I was also raised to believe that it’s not cool for men to hit women, although I can see where SHA KA REE comes from when he says an open handed slap might be proper to keep a babbling hen in line. Again, I’m not saying that it is right. I merely make commentary on the nature of things as they are happening in mother nature.

I’ve got Discovery HD now. Those nature shows are awesome. I never have to leave Colorado now… it’s all there in HD. You can do it all, go anywhere. Man I love dat techMology!

BEST!!

=h=

Battletrek
April 21, 2008 4:09 pm

they are making kirk into indiana jones for this, something to think about

April 21, 2008 4:10 pm

No, “Enterprise” and the Trek movies tanked because the “core fan base” isn’t big enough to support the Franchise – that’s just a fact.

Trek did well when people other than Trekkies would make some time or pay some money to watch it – and those people get bored after a while. You have to give them something new and different to bring them back.

Todd Rivers
April 21, 2008 4:30 pm

Wasn’t this Abrahms tidbit already covered in a previous news item? We already know it’s not just for the fans but people that may have never have seen Trek before.

Captain Robert April
April 21, 2008 4:37 pm

Never let it be said that Dennis ever passed up an opportunity to rag on the fanbase. Somebody should write a paper on his particular brand of self-loathing.

The fact of the matter is that the “hardcore” fanbase has different levels of hardness, and those levels respond differently.

If the quality if good, that fanbase swells to incredible numbers, but when the quality suffers, when the producers start making snarky remarks about the fans, more than a few layers of that fanbase onion are more than willing to take their Parises Squares gear and go home, to wait until things turn around. The hardest of the hardcore, that will gleefully lap up anything with a Star Trek label and put up with whatever abuse TPTB sling their way, yeah, those members of the “Get a Life” club don’t constitute the numbers to float the franchise, and thank the gods for that! Otherwise, season four of Enterprise would’ve been even more of the same undiluted crap Berman and Braga had been peddling for the previous ten years, going back to the dive down the mediorcity rabbit hole that was Voyager.

So, yeah, there are more than enough dedicated Star Trek fans to make or break this film. Thankfully, most of them are not blindly loyal sheep who’ll show up no matter what manner of drek is flung on the screen.

Brian
April 21, 2008 4:39 pm

How ironic I thought with the last 2 films and Enterprise they were trying to appeal to a broader audience and not just the fans. Someone go ask Berman how that worked out for them and his career

April 21, 2008 4:41 pm

Leonard Nimoy sounded pretty genuine about liking the script, the acting and the movie so far as a whole. And Quinto mentioned that he was amazed at the set design – sets like he’s never seen before, is what he said. JJ says he respects Roddenberry’s vision. Plus, Abrams is a creative, energetic interesting director. That is all enough to make me feel hopeful.

as for cloverfield, the monster is supposed to be a baby monster that got separated from it’s mother and had a case of separation anxiety (i’m not kidding) while it was in NYC. the next movie is supposed to be the mother- monster. slusho is supposed to be a deep sea experiment that went wrong that created these things, although i don’t understand the connection with the monster falling out of the sky. i’m just reporting what i’ve read. :)

even tho cloverfield made me nauseous, i plan to get my slusho and wait in line for the next one, just for curiousity’s sake.

April 21, 2008 4:42 pm

May 2009, thats a long way off. How many of the same interviews is he going to do. It will be like having one of your favorite cd’s put on repeat for about 400 days, over and over.

But I am sure it will be worth the wait, and at least hopefully we will not have to wait as long for ST12.

Bussani
April 21, 2008 4:43 pm

#7 Green-Blooded-Bastard

Apparently that isn’t the case, but you have to go through the viral marketing to figure that out.

What falls out of the sky at the end of the film is a satellite belonging to the Tagruato Corp, which was a deep sea drilling corporation if I remember right. Either the satellite falling or the search to recover it is what awakened the monster, which had been sleeping on Earth for millions of years, according to Mr Abrams.

That still doesn’t tell us if it’s an alien, a mutant or something natural, but whatever it is it didn’t arrive recently.

Chris Roberts
April 21, 2008 4:46 pm

There Is little news here.He has long said this Is for both established fans
and new filmgoers.He has said he was more Into Star Wars at Comic Con.We know some liberties will be taken while other things fit Canon.
They are doing something to please fans while appealling to the blockbuster film fans as well.Their work on Alias and Lost shows
they can do It.

AJ
April 21, 2008 4:55 pm

17: Any show is about hitting its financial targets, and a great genre show like Trek also had set the standard when it came back out in 1987 after 4 successful movies to that of the top in TV FX.

The TV shows were that standard, spending $1m per episode. The ensemble actors are fixed in the budget, and they were always good, but VOY and ENT just couldn’t keep us interested.

I think, in DS9, the Dominion War was getting long-winded, and they brought in Worf to attract more crossover business from TNG. After all the excitement, they killed off Sisko, and shut down the Alpha Quadrant.

They then sent a small ship into unknown territory (VOY), and lost all fans of Klingons, Romulans, and Federation politics, etc. Like Joey from Friends moving to LA. WTF?

The FX were great, and the ensemble worked well, but nothing interesting happened until they did the Borg to the point of overkill. ENT was dead from its first minute on TV because none of the existing lore outside of one film was usable.

Jeff
April 21, 2008 5:14 pm

OK, people, stop obsessing!

Point 1: EVERYONE knows that Cloverfield has a monster in it, even people who don’t want to see it. There’s no surprise left, instead it’s a matter of getting people who didn’t see it to think “That looks cool!” and picking up or renting the DVD.

Point 2: Stop wasting your time deconstructing every syllable that anyone associated with the new movie speaks. Really. There’s a whole freakin’ year until it comes out, go do something else. And you know what? It’s really, really annoying. Read a book!

Jeff

P.S. I visited Vasquez Rocks today! Whoo hoo!

Viking
April 21, 2008 5:40 pm

‘The thing about this movie — probably more than any I think — is that it is better on DVD than in the theater. Because the movie is like a videotape. It lives on your TV. In many ways, it is supposed to be viewed on a (TV) monitor.’

I’ll reserve judgement, J.J., but I’ll give you an after-action report, soonest: our Netflix copy will be here tomorrow. Here’s to hoping you’re spot-on.

Jack
April 21, 2008 5:59 pm

marry me, Jeff.

[The] TOS Purist aka The Purolator
April 21, 2008 5:59 pm

I want spoilers, dammit, not more of this wishy-washy “Yeah we’re staying true to the enigmatic Roddenberry vision while still making it accessible to non-Trekkies” garbage. Personally I don’t see how Roddenberry’s “vision” isn’t accessible to non-Trekkies in the first place, but whatever. It’s just their way of secretly saying that they don’t think Roddenberry’s ideas are good enough for people anymore.

I want JJ to back up his flimsy words with some real photographic evidence of how much he’s sticking to established Trek.

Gimme spoiler pics, dammit! lol…

April 21, 2008 6:03 pm

The truth is, he could alienate all of us hardcore fans, but have it be a hit with the general audience, and the B.O. would never feel it. So we should hope for a film that is attractive to the non-Trekker audience, and be glad that JJ is still thinking of us also.

Trek needs a shot in the arm, or a zap to the chest, to bring it back to life, and not be a fan-thinkg only. I want it to be a hit for a large audience, and this will in turn bring more fans into the fold who start watching the Remastered Trek. It is now ready for them.

SteveinSF
April 21, 2008 6:06 pm

I agree with #17– In my humble opinion…
Enterprise was boring and did not do good job as a prequel. Too much of Bergman influence. The only movie worth a damn from the TNG was First Contact–and even that was silly at the end with the Vulcan speaking prefect English and giving a the Vulcan salute ( I know, universal translator….blah blah). The other TNG movies were just damn boring for me. Even the TOS movies –I am a hard core fan of the TOS–they weren’t all that good but were fun to watch ( ok, not #5 so much).

I am interested in seeing what Abrams is going to do and how he fits Nimoy into this whole thing.

Denise de Arman
April 21, 2008 6:11 pm

Ooh, Jeff, did you stand squinting up at the peak of the highest outcropping, holding your breath and wondering if Spock just might walk out donned in his Vulcan hippy regala? Or at least spot a Gorn…

angry but i'll get over it
April 21, 2008 6:18 pm

booo…still will see it, tho

Robert
April 21, 2008 6:18 pm

That’s what I like to hear. That movies are not just for the fans, but for everyone.

Chirs M
April 21, 2008 6:19 pm

I’ll be happy if Star Trek is a great movie which I think and hope it will be and if it succeeds in brining in new fans then that is all the better for us Trekkies and the furture of the Star Trek Franchise!

I Love My Moogie
April 21, 2008 6:25 pm

“The challenge of (”Star Trek”) is to take something that — despite the baggage of what came before”

Baggage? 79 episodes & six films of canon are now baggage? This is no longer my Star Trek, so knowing when the party is over I believe it’s now time to move on from Trek, something I never imagined ever doing.

To everyone here, whether we agreed on the issues or not, I bid you farewell with my highest respect. You are a terrific group! Live Long & Prosper.

THX-1138 The Fandom Menace
April 21, 2008 6:32 pm

“The thing about this movie — probably more than any I think — is that it is better on DVD than in the theater. Because the movie is like a videotape. It lives on your TV. In many ways, it is supposed to be viewed on a (TV) monitor.”

Great. Now you tell me. Good thing I spent $27 so the three of us could see it.

April 21, 2008 6:34 pm

#22 :”Never let it be said that Dennis ever passed up an opportunity to rag on the fanbase. Somebody should write a paper on his particular brand of self-loathing.”

Have you ever written a paper?

Here’s a hint – it’s not “self-loathing”… Don’t think much of you, though. :)

April 21, 2008 6:44 pm

Is the Star Trek trailer in the Cloverfield DVD also?

kmart
April 21, 2008 6:46 pm

#41

Given how much effort April has put into trek-related stuff, I image he HAS written and published papers, and I sure as hell know I have. But whether anybody could pay me enough to justify writing a paper on YOUR toadying to Paramount or any other aspect of your web-behavior … well, I just dunno.

Bailey, you’ve done more to chase coherent thought away from trekbbs than any number of the more illiterate numbnuts, and it is because you have a shred of credibility that you are so dangerous. If there was ever a case of the emperor having no clothes, man you’re the one with all the empty hangers in his closet.

Enterprise MIGHT have worked if they’d tried to do a mature job of storytelling, but I guess that’s based on the talent pool (remember these are the guys who couldn’t handle Ron Moore contributing to their other mess, VOYAGER.) ST 10 might have worked if it was not NEMESIS, but then again, when you’ve got a star messing with the creative end of the franchise (see INSURRECTION), the end is clearly in sight.

April 21, 2008 6:51 pm

That’s quite a bit of typing there, kmart.

As far as trying to equate drawing pictures of spaceships with the ability to do academic research, though… you fail. :)

Windsor Bear
April 21, 2008 6:54 pm

#39 – I Love My Moogie – “This is no longer my Star Trek, so knowing when the party is over I believe it’s now time to move on from Trek, something I never imagined ever doing.”

Don’t leave buddy. The whole new Star Trek movie is really very simple….
Let’s compare it to Burger King burgers… Original Star Trek is the Whopper… and this new Star Trek movie is whatever the featured burger of the month is.

The new burger is different with a tangy new sauce and topped with heaven knows what. Everybody flocks to it when it first comes out. Then, little by little everybody tires of it and slowly goes back to buying the Whopper. Why? Because the Whopper was the “original”. It has credibility and just tastes better. Soon, the new burger disappears from the menu and people start to forget about it. Meanwhile, the Whopper lives on.

You think I’m kidding??? We’ll find out about six months after the release of the movie.

Green-Blooded-Bastard
April 21, 2008 6:55 pm

#26 Bussani

If I have to go through “viral marketing” to help me understand that it’s a satellite and there’s an deep-sea drilling corporation that is searching for it and it wakes up a monster and all this back story, it’s no wonder I get sick of going to the movies. I don’t want to have to use secret decoder rings or internet searches to help me figure out what I’m watching in the theater, especially after I pay $9 to see the movie. I take a face value what I’m watching, just like most human beings do at the theater. If your average Joe Blow walks into a movie and watches a “thing” fall out of the sky after watching 90 minutes of a monster rip up Manhattan, it leaves one to believe that’s the impression the director wanted a person to leave the theater with…Something fell out of the sky, crawled up out of the ocean and destroyed New York. If there’s more, stick it in the film so I have a beginning, middle and end. The director and writers might think it’s cool and artsy, but it just annoys the heck out of me.

This is why I download movies. I hate paying for half a story. I certainly won’t go see a Cloverfield II.

Xai
April 21, 2008 6:56 pm

19. Battletrek – April 21, 2008
they are making kirk into indiana jones for this, something to think about”

Good attempt at humor or just trying to stir up the crowd? Either way you know that’s not true.

Denise de Arman
April 21, 2008 7:02 pm

kmart#43- Why the personal attack? Can’t we all just get along?

Xai
April 21, 2008 7:03 pm

39. I Love My Moogie – April 21, 2008
“The challenge of (”Star Trek”) is to take something that — despite the baggage of what came before”

Baggage? 79 episodes & six films of canon are now baggage? This is no longer my Star Trek, so knowing when the party is over I believe it’s now time to move on from Trek, something I never imagined ever doing.”

Completely overboard to the nth degree on the nitpick scale. He said baggage… so what?

Xai
April 21, 2008 7:10 pm

32. [The] TOS Purist aka The Purolator – April 21, 2008
“I want spoilers, dammit, not more of this wishy-washy “Yeah we’re staying true to the enigmatic Roddenberry vision while still making it accessible to non-Trekkies” garbage. Personally I don’t see how Roddenberry’s “vision” isn’t accessible to non-Trekkies in the first place, but whatever. It’s just their way of secretly saying that they don’t think Roddenberry’s ideas are good enough for people anymore.

I want JJ to back up his flimsy words with some real photographic evidence of how much he’s sticking to established Trek.”

–I am sure after all those compliments you’ve just thrown into that tirade they will upload tons of spoilers and pics and likely will get you invited to the premiere.

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