Abrams Pitches ‘Star Trek: The Beginning’ In Korea

Yesterday JJ Abrams was in Seoul, South Korea kicking off a brief tour in Asia to promote the new Star Trek movie, like he did in the Fall in Europe. This time he brought Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zoe Saldana (Uhura) with him. See below for excerpts and quotes from a report of his visit, plus a little context on the state of Trek in Asia.


Star Trek Begins in Korea
Although Asia has grown to become one of the more important markets for films, Star Trek has not performed well there in the past, so Abrams had his work cut out for him. He and his cast were there to preview 20 minutes of the film to journalists and distributors, like he did in Europe last Fall. According to a report from the Korea Herald the film will be called ‘Star Trek: The Beginning’ in Korea, and Abrams went out of his way to emphasize to the crowd his Star Trek his for a general audience, telling the crowd:

We made this film not for Trekkies but for future fans of Star Trek. The studio wanted to give the film a fresh start and I was originally brought in as a producer, but upon reading the script, I saw so much potential and possibility that the original had failed to realize due to technological constraints so I got very greedy and I decided to direct it myself.

Chris Pine also talked about making this new Star Trek noting how he was not doing an impersonation:

I began watching the original series pretty feverishly cause I knew I only had a limited amount of time to prepare for the role and after getting half way through the first and second season I wasn’t doing myself any favors by trying to pick up on the mannerisms of William Shatner and the minutiae of the Star Trek world. I would have created a character that was more impersonation than an original incarnation. JJ’s prescription for realizing the role and this goes for all of us- was to create our own and not worry too much about obeying the laws of the original Star Trek world.

For her part, Saldana talked about how she relates to the character of Uhura

I do have a gravitational pull towards characters that are strong. I think there are similarities between Uhura and myself. It is conceivable to believe that some of you leaks into the roles actors play and I certainly hope that the things that did manage to leak in … complimented my interpretation of my character in the film – the way she’s able to command herself with so much discipline and strength in a setting that’s mainly masculine and still hold court and fulfill her job in an androgynous manner – I love women that are like that.

Star Trek opens in Korea on May 7th.

Abrams with Saldana and Pine talk to the press in Seoul, S. Korea (Wire Image)

Trek’s challenge in Asia
JJ Abrams tour of Asia will be taking him to Japan later in the week. It is interesting to see how Paramount is working hard to make this new Trek film into a global event, something unprecedented in Trek’s history. The last Star Trek movie (Nemesis) only made $564,650 in Japan and opened on only 26 screens. Nemesis opened in Korea nine months after the US premiere, but there is no box office data available (it is likely less than Japan). In comparison, Abrams first feature film, Mission: Impossible: III, made over $44 million in Japan alone, and almost $38 Million in Korea, but that film did have the advantage of Tom Cruise, who is a big star overseas. The film that is often held up as a model for the new Trek is Batman Begins. That ‘reboot’ of the Batman franchise brought in $6.5 million in S. Korea and $12.4 million in Japan.

For the return of Trek to work as well as the return of Batman, it is going to need a lot of ‘new’ fans. So before Trek fans get too worked up over Abrams comments about the new Trek film being for new fans, bear in mind that Star Trek has not performed well in non-English speaking markets (with the exception of Germany). For the film to succeed in Asia, it needs an audience comprised almost entirely of ‘new fans’ so it makes sense for Abrams and Paramount to market the film as being for that audience.

Abrams comments about fans are not new and something he has said before, particularly in his Trip to Europe. In a recent interview with TrekMovie, Star Trek co-writer Bob Orci talked about Abrams overseas comments and offered this advice to his fellow Trekkies:

We can liken almost anything to something that happened on The Next Generation, because The Next Generation covered almost every story that there is. As fans – when JJ is out there saying things that prickled our pointy ears, we just think of him like Riker in the episode ["A Matter of Honor"] which he had to go be the first officer on board a Klingon ship in an exchange program. On that ship when someone talks back to you, you would have to beat them down or you lose the respect of your crew, which is protocol, whereas on a Federation ship that would be a crime. So we have to give JJ a little bit of leeway, when he is traveling the galaxy over there where they don’t know Trek, to say the things that need to be said in order to get people onto our side.     

Hey if it works, then all the better for Star Trek going forward.

Abrams with Saldana and Pine in Seoul, S. Korea (Wire Image)

[Source: Korea Herald – note site may contain viruses, not recommended to visit]

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February 25, 2009 10:30 am

Sounds cool!

February 25, 2009 10:30 am

Somebody get Porthos out of there…

February 25, 2009 10:32 am

I really want to like this film, but every time I read something like “not for Trekkies, but for future fans of Star Trek,” I feel like they’re telling me not to bother.

February 25, 2009 10:35 am

somehow Pine looks a little more ‘Kirky’ each time i see him…

Montreal Paul
February 25, 2009 10:35 am

#3 Commodore

I guess you didn’t read this part too well.

“So before Trek fans get too worked up over Abrams comments about the new Trek film being for new fans, bear in mind that Star Trek has not performed well in non-English speaking markets (with the exception of Germany). For the film to succeed in Asia, it needs an audience comprised almost entirely of ‘new fans’ so it makes sense for Abrams and Paramount to market the film being for that audience.”

February 25, 2009 10:36 am

What’s with Pine’s krytonite sneakers?

Lynies Esprit
February 25, 2009 10:37 am

well dont!! I’m sure like all the other trekies out there come May 8th you will still be in line waiting to see this movie because of your curiosity! This is for all you hate mongers out there either put up, or shut up!!

February 25, 2009 10:41 am

“…did have the advantage of Tom Cruise, who is a big star overseas”. Now that’s cruel. :-)

February 25, 2009 10:41 am

Pine have a Orion-shoes? heheheee

Capt. of the USS Anduril
February 25, 2009 10:42 am

Wait a second, Korea gets this movie BEFORE US?! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!!

Denise de Arman
February 25, 2009 10:44 am

Here is hoping the film breaks records in Asia!

February 25, 2009 10:45 am

in this pic Pinekirk has a similar smile to Kirk here:

..and i still think JJ is Rick Moranis’s long lost little brother…

February 25, 2009 10:46 am

#3 – I don’t think you should read too much into those kinds of statements as they’re obviously tailored for the audience they’re being delivered to. Trek isn’t popular in Korea, ergo it makes sense to word your sales rhetoric in such a way as to differentiate this new version from prior incarnations and ease peoples doubts. I have no trouble with that kind of stuff. Ultimately, I just want a good movie and the only way to tell if they accomplished that or not is to go see it for myself.

February 25, 2009 10:49 am

Comments from Orci and Kurtzmann should lay to rest most concerns for Trekkers (“Trekkies” sounds diminutive to me…). Now that this film is being pushed as a summer blockbuster, it HAS to appeal to non-Trekkers to succeed in that arena and Abrams HAS to say such things to bring in a wider audience. Like it or not, Trek fans are considered uber-nerds to the general populace and if this movie is percieved to be for them (or rather, US) most people will scoff at it and not go.

We WANT Star Trek to do huge box office and make tons of money. That would be a GOOD thing. Based on what I’ve seen and read so far, this looks like a really good movie. If it has to shed some canon to succeed, I’m all for it. It can still be Trek even if it doesn’t adhere to every bit of canon (a term I use VERY reluctantly in regards to a fictional work).

Just remember those famous words: “It’s only a movie”.

February 25, 2009 10:50 am

#3—“I really want to like this film, but every time I read something like “not for Trekkies, but for future fans of Star Trek,” I feel like they’re telling me not to bother.”

Try looking at it from a practical marketing perspective. This is a film with a budget of over $150 million. Obviously, the movie’s financial success is dependant upon recruiting moviegoers who otherwise wouldn’t bother with a Star Trek film.

It isn’t about turning you and I away. It is about bringing in people from among the mainstream—where there is an abundance of preconceived notions about Star Trek to overcome. Equally obvious is the need to convince those potential ticketbuyers that this is something different from what they have apparently dismissed in the past.

A movie “for Trekkies” is inherently exclusionary. The budget will not be justified by that “exclusive” group alone. It just isn’t possible.

If you honestly want to like this movie, and that type of marketing strategy honestly makes you feel unwelcome, then I suggest (quite sincerely and without sarcasm) that you alter your perspective or avoid the promotion. The strategy is not likely to change. In fact, if it did, I would question their judgement.

Dr. Image
February 25, 2009 10:52 am

Korean has the coolest looking alphabet.
I want a Korean poster- hey I’m into kimchee & TKD!

Capt Mike Of The Terran Empire
February 25, 2009 10:54 am

Well. heres hoping that the fillm does well. I was in the Navy back when Star Trek 6 came out and I do remember that the theater was sold out for the first week for Trek 6 in Singapore. I think it did well there. i hope that Trek will do great in all the Markets so we can have more Trek Movies and hopefully a new series one day.

Star Trackie
February 25, 2009 10:55 am

I’m somewhat comforted by the thought that PIne has watched the first season of Star Trek. That season is the benchmark. ANY cues he decided to ultimately take from that season will serve him well.

And yes, Trek, for the most part, on a worldwide basis, has performed dismally in recent years. I think the return to the pop icons of Kirk and Spock will bring a welcome familiarity back to those countries where Trek has stagnated in recent years.

February 25, 2009 10:56 am

Chris Pine wears Orion memorial sneakers. ;)

February 25, 2009 10:58 am

Wait… Hold on. I have to go all the way to Korea to see how Erik Jendresen’s script worked out?


February 25, 2009 11:01 am

I’m very surprised he mentioned Trekkers in Korea. I have a hard time imagining they know what Trekkers are. I am also surprised he even mentioned the old series. Probably better to just act like this is a new original story with the themes of interest to those markets and act surprised to hear there was once a TV show with that name if anyone asks.

Devon Richards
February 25, 2009 11:07 am

Hopefully Star Trek will do well in South Korea. One thing s.Korea has done in the last ten years, its proven they can make damned good movies. Anyone who has seen..
Old Boy
Nowhere to Hide
GP 506

..knows exactly what I mean.

February 25, 2009 11:07 am

Worldwide domination!!!

February 25, 2009 11:07 am

Man I want a pair of those shoes…lol

February 25, 2009 11:18 am

I can’t say I give Pine the stamp of approval on those sneakers…

Aaron R.
February 25, 2009 11:18 am

Giant posters in S. Korean langauge – 300$
Plane tickets to another country 1500$
Star Trek movie to promote – 150 Million Dollars….

Chris Pine creating new fashion trends around the world – Priceless!

February 25, 2009 11:20 am

In all honesty and from what I have seen so far… all this sounds more like “Star Trek: the End” to me…

February 25, 2009 11:25 am

#28—Oh, Sylvain….Haven’t you heard? The human adventure is just beginning.

February 25, 2009 11:26 am


Closet, it’s obvious that you are on the same page as the creators of the new film, but the one thing your forgot to mention was that they are counting on Trek fans going to the film NO MATTER what they say.

And that’s the wrong way to approach this.

Any new TOS incarnation with better effects and a fresh young crew is bound to get over 200 mil in this market. It doesn’t matter to the newbies what the stuff looks like—and yet that’s why the base is worried about the film.

Where’s the old-school catering? That’s the biggest chunk of the tickets for this film. Unless by bringing in new people they mean the Asian markets. LOL. Have you seen all the new movies coming out with stories that take place in asia? That Chinese market is looking pretty sweet to Hollywood.

February 25, 2009 11:26 am

This is kinda funny because I’ve been watching M*A*S*H all week!
Hmm Star Trek meets M*A*S*H. Well Hawkeye *was* a captain! :P

February 25, 2009 11:28 am


Ha ha…your too funny….sadness…..

Bill Peters
February 25, 2009 11:28 am

actually I think this is the Begining of something that will keep new trek comming to us for a while!

February 25, 2009 11:29 am

If they have a classic Enterprise reveal at the beginning or end of this film…they better fess up and stop with all the Cloverfield “surprises”.

Capt Mike Of The Terran Empire
February 25, 2009 11:30 am

#27 Funny! Ok. I think pine will do a great job along with the others in promoting. I can’t wait to see the cast on leno and or Letterman and Hey I hope they get promoted on the Oprah Winfrey Show. This should be good and if they promote hard then everyone will know about the new Trek movie and it should be great. Which also means that you havt to get to the theater early to get a seat.

February 25, 2009 11:30 am


Funny you mention M*A*S*H. I love that show. I’m actually watching AfterMASH right now and am about to watch the pilot for W*A*L*T*E*R.

The Geek Who Gets Laid Often
February 25, 2009 11:32 am

Let him market his film the way he sees fit. The fact that they even bothered to make a new Star Trek movie and take the time to reassure the readers of Nacelles Weekly on an almost daily basis is more than double the acknowledgment such a cry-baby audience deserves.

February 25, 2009 11:34 am


I can’t stand the crybaby audience. They’re the ones that make us TRUE fans look bad.

February 25, 2009 11:36 am

@36 where did you get them? I can’t find them anywhere?! I’d love to see them!

February 25, 2009 11:36 am

Does JJ always looks like an Uber Nerd?
And those Slime Green shoes… hell yeah ^^

February 25, 2009 11:37 am


It’s like…Uh…we have a movie called “Star Trek” but it’s not “Star Trek” cuz, it’s NEW “Star Trek”. We had a bigger budget and could do things they couldn’t do in the series, You know, all they could do was things like, uhm, City on the Edge Forever, Balance of Terror, This Side of Paradise, Amok Time, The Doomsday Machine. You know really bad stuff. And all they could do was spawn the largest fan base in the history of TV leading to 4 TV series spinoffs and 10 movies spanning a total of 40 years. That’s all they did.

Yeah, uhm… the one we’re doing is better. LOL

I'm dead Jim
February 25, 2009 11:38 am

My wife is Japanese and she LOVES Star Trek, really… at least since she’s been married to me.

February 25, 2009 11:40 am

Is it me or does Zoe have really skinny legs?

Capt Mike Of The Terran Empire
February 25, 2009 11:42 am
Hey I love Nacelles Weekly. thats a great magazine. I just wish there was a way for me to subscribe to it. I think that What J.J is dooing is great. he is out promoting the Trek movie like a mad man and I for one am thrilled. He is not only doing his job he is doing it with passion. yeah it’s about money but with out money there can be no Trek. I like the fact that Pine and Saldana are in Korea with J.J it also says they care about the movie and want it to do well in all the markets. Yes it will further there careers but it also shows they care about there work and it shows there passion for the show. So to the Naysayers please remember that with out J.J there would be no more Trek for a very long time and if we as true Hardcore fans do not go out and see the movie at the theater and if this movie flops then we will be partly responsable for the demise of Trek as paramount and others will think long and hard about doing more Trek for many years to come.So I say promote away and get all the mechendise out there and as much as possible and get on all the Talk shows and go all over the World and Promote the Blazes out of this New Movie. I for one will see Trek at least 7 to 10… Read more »
Capt Mike Of The Terran Empire
February 25, 2009 11:45 am

Oh by the way. My personell record for seeing a trek film at the theater is a tie between trek 2 and 6. 10 Times.I hope to break that record for the new Trek.

Capt Mike Of The Terran Empire
February 25, 2009 11:47 am

I seen Tmp once and Trek 2 10 times and 3 4 times and Trek 4 7 times and Trek 5 1 time.and Trek 6 10 times and Trek 7 3 times and Trek 8 6 times and trek 9 2 times.All at the theater.

February 25, 2009 11:56 am

38: Careful with the true fan talk. Your fandom is no “truer” than someone else’s. Those you deem crybabies are here for the same reason you are—love of Trek.

February 25, 2009 11:57 am

#15 “actually the film opens first in Belgium, France and parts of Switzerland on Wed. the 6th!”

Cool! I’m from Belgium…

February 25, 2009 12:01 pm


They don’t love Trek. They love their own version of Trek to the detriment of the franchise as a whole. If they had their way, the new movie would look just like the old series complete with plywood sets and blinking lights. You know as well as I do that any movie that looked like that would completely fail and kill the franchise. So, in essence, they want the franchise to fail so they can selfishly watch their DVD’s in their Capt. Kirk underoos and sleep knowing that their “precious canon” hasn’t been violated by what will be an incredibly great movie.

Capt Mike Of The Terran Empire
February 25, 2009 12:03 pm

#48. Ill get a Ticket with you and maybe a few others of us hardcore fans can go along and we can see the film 1ST!!! Im there with you.!!!!!