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Trek4Kids: How The New Star Trek Movie Is Appealing To Sixth Graders

The topic of this ‘Trek4Kids’ entry is how Paramount is marketing their new Star Trek movie to kids, something pretty important if they want to create a ‘next generation’ of fans. I am already a fan and was already excited about the movie, so I invited some of my sixth grade friends over to view some of the trailers and merchandise and also did a little survey at school, all to find out if other kids are getting excited too.

 

My little focus group
Here is a brief introduction to the four friends I invited. Kyle is interested in science fiction series such as Star Wars and I wanted him to see a different side of science fiction. Luke is a kid who likes to build things with Legos and I wanted to show him Star Trek because I thought he would like the starships. Ethan is interested in sports and is good at school, and Kamalei is interested in football. In this group, we had a mix of Caucasian, Japanese, and Hawaiian kids (I live in Hawaii). My dad and I showed them the second trailer for the movie, the Super Bowl ad, the Star Trek Countdown comic book, the Playmates action figures and playsets, the away gear, the Halloween costumes, the Quog animations, and the Quog merchandise.

Before we began, we asked if they had ever heard of Star Trek or had any prior contact with it. All four had heard of it in one way or another. Kyle said, “It’s an old show, that’s what I know,” Kamalei said he had seen it before on occasion, and Luke said that he had not really seen it but he knew about “the guy with the pointy ears”. We also asked what movies they were looking forward to this summer. Kyle, Luke, and Ethan did not really know what movies were coming out yet, but Kamalei knew there was a new Star Trek movie planned. Then Luke said, “Oh yeah.”

Everyone watched Trailer 2 silently and they were obviously interested in it because they paid close attention to it. When Luke saw the Bad Robot logo, he recognized it and said he was a fan of Alias. At first, Kyle and Ethan did not remember having seen the trailer before but Kyle recalled it when Kirk said, “My name is James Tiberius Kirk”. When my dad mentioned that the trailer was shown at Quantum of Solace, Kyle said, “That movie was awesome.” Ethan recognized the trailer when the Enterprise went to warp, and said, “I think I saw this preview before.” Next we showed them the "Big Game" TV Spot and by this time, all of them remembered having seen the preview during the Super Bowl. When asked if Star Trek was a cool movie or if they would want to see it in the theaters, Kyle said “Cool. Yeah,” Kamalei said, “Pretty good. Yeah, I guess so,” Ethan and Luke nodded, and Luke said he would probably want to see the movie. [Editor’s note: this group was held before the release of the new ‘Trailer 3’]


First theatrical trailer played well with the kids

Next we showed them a picture of the cover and the first few pages of Star Trek Countdown, Number One, and they thought it was pretty interesting. When asked if they would read it, Kyle said, “Probably…if I was bored.” And Kamalei said, “Yeah. I like comic books.” I told my friends that the movie deals with time travel, and they thought that was pretty cool. We also showed them pictures of the Playmates toys for the movie. Because Kyle collects action figures such as G.I. Joe, he thought the Star Trek action figures were pretty nice. They liked the electronic toy phaser best of all, and Kamalei liked the model of the movie Enterprise. They were less interested in the toy communicator and tricorder. They all nodded when asked if they liked the toys, and Ethan said, “The toys look interesting.” Kamalei said he would be interested in seeing posters and Luke would like to see Legos.


The phaser was a favorite with the boys

Next we went to GoAnimate.com to show them Star Trek QUAG animations. Kamalei said, “Oh wow” and “cool” when my dad said that you can create your own animations on the site. He also asked if Spock was bad, possibly because he saw the fight between Kirk and Spock in the trailer. Luke said, “Wait. Is this sort of like the movie, Galaxy Quest?” I said that Galaxy Quest is a spoof of Star Trek.  Ethan was dancing to the song, “Highly Illogical” sung by Leonard Nimoy and even said, “Catchy.” During the animation, Kamalei asked if the crew goes to earth, and I answered, “Occasionally, but they are mostly exploring the great unknown”. In one animation they all laughed out loud when they saw Chekov (as the husband) shoot Uhura (as the wife)! When asked if they liked the Quog figures and watches, they said, “Yeah, a little.”

GoAnimate.com: highly illogical animation

Sing along with Spock is fun

Kamalei said that the design of the movie website was cool and Kyle said that the picture of Nero reminded him of the evil Roman emperor. When he saw the picture of the Kelvin blowing up, Kamalei wondered if that was the ship with Spock and the rest of the crew. We told him that that was a different ship. And when he saw the picture of the Enterprise, Kamalei said, “That’s a really cool ship.” He had seen Heroes and recognized Sylar (played by Zachary Quinto), and was also interested in John Cho (Sulu) who he said looked familiar. My dad guessed correctly that it was from Harold & Kumar. Kamalei asked, “So does Kirk live on Earth?”, and when he was told Spock was the only alien on the ship, he said, “What about the guy who looks like a monster?” We did not know who he was talking about, but he probably meant an alien character, such as Worf, from one of the more recent series. When they were asked what they thought about everything they had seen, Ethan said that it was interesting, Kyle said, “50-50,” while Kamalei and Luke nodded.


Cho and Quinto are recognizable

After showing things to my friends, I also did an informal survey with six other sixth grade boys at school. Out of the group, only one had never even heard of Star Trek. When I asked if they knew that there is a new Star Trek movie coming out, only three knew about it, and only two said they were interested (and one maybe). Also only two out of six had seen anything related to the movie. Finally, I asked them, “What words do you think of when you think of Star Trek?” The answers were “cool”, “space”, and “gay”.

The show-and-tell with my friends and the survey at school shows that kids my age at least know what Star Trek is and when shown things from the movie they can get  interested in it. But it seems there is still work to be done to get them to learn more about the movie. All in all, I think that most of the kids to whom we showed the trailers would want to see the movie in the theaters when it is released on May 8. When the movie premiere gets closer, I will try and update TrekMovie how things are going with my friends and classmates.

BONUS: What about little girls?
At first it was not the plan to plan to show the trailers to my little sister Holly and her friends, because seven and eight-year old girls are not the target audience of the movie. But Holly insisted, so we showed two of her friends the trailers as well. I was not surprised that Anneka (age 8) and Sage (age 7) had never heard of Star Trek, and the trailer did not spark their interest. Anneka said it would be cool to play with the action figures on the Bridge playset because if you get all of them you would have a set. They were not interested in the phaser or other prop models, but they thought the Uhura costume was pretty. Anneka liked the Quog animations and rated them 8-9 out of 10, but Sage had no interest. So even if they aren’t the audience, there is still some interest in this group.


The girls like the playset

 

Eleven year old James T. is the Youth Correspondent for TrekMovie.com. Check out the ‘Trek4Kids’ category for more of his articles. James and his family will be attending the premiere of the new Star Trek movie as special guests of Leonard Nimoy.
 

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Mazz Nx01
March 12, 2009 1:44 pm

If the new movie doesn’t have NOMAD, I’m throwing punches.

McCoy
March 12, 2009 1:45 pm

Hmmm. Did anyone show them Uhura in her bra or Kirk on top of the Orion?

Tiberius Kirk
March 12, 2009 1:46 pm

I have a sixth grader who is very excited!

Mom
March 12, 2009 1:46 pm

Sixth graders are watching Harold & Kumar? Isn’t that rated R? Maybe just on TV.

March 12, 2009 1:46 pm

is it ok if i’m not in sixth grade and like the toys?

NX01
March 12, 2009 1:47 pm

Cool Bring back the animated series for the kids!

That is what I watched as a kid.

Brett Campbell
March 12, 2009 1:49 pm

James T. — I teach writing, and I was absolutely floored at the end of this article to read that you are eleven years old.

I wish some of my college students could write this well.

You are amazing! I hope that this is the beginning of a life-long love affair with writing for you!

Keep stringing words, young man. You are talented!

Sybok's Secret Brother
March 12, 2009 1:50 pm

My 7th grade boy want to see it on opening night, if not before.

James T – Well written!

jotin
March 12, 2009 1:51 pm

I want a buildable model. i liked the bandai ones for the quality but hated that they were snap together. it left so many potentials for random little gaps.

Sybok's Secret Brother
March 12, 2009 1:51 pm

Oh and James, girls have anti-trek cooties…

braxus
March 12, 2009 1:52 pm

Be cool to see kids get into this. I was a kid when I saw Star Trek 1 and 2. #2 is what got me really into Star Trek.

Sybok's Secret Brother
March 12, 2009 1:52 pm

…until they grow up a bit….

;-p

Selor
March 12, 2009 1:53 pm

Nice to know :)

Valar1
March 12, 2009 1:55 pm

“What words do you think of when you think of Star Trek?” The answers were “cool”, “space”, and “gay”.

So, not much difference between a sixth grader in Hawaii and most of the population of Earth?

Capt Mike Of The Terran Empire
March 12, 2009 1:56 pm

Hey that was a Kool interview. I hope more Kids get into Trek and learn about all the fun stuff and about the message of Trek.

Todd
March 12, 2009 1:57 pm

I at first read that the focus group was made up of six-year-olds, and reading the article I’m like, wow these six-year-olds are quite intelligent! But… they watch Quantum of Solace and Harold & Kumar? Who are their parents!? Ohhhhhh they’re GRADE six, not six-year-olds. (Goes back to re-read article now).

Thfc
March 12, 2009 2:01 pm

My son who is 5 – thinks its ‘Star Wars’ but ‘can’t wait to see it’. As long as he goes with me to see it; I don’t care what he calls it ;-)

Drapera
March 12, 2009 2:12 pm

FYI: Slightly off topic in age group…my 13 year old thinks Chris Pine is “FINE”. She had seen him in one of the Princess Diaries movies…

That seems to be the ticket. Whatever movie a “HOT” guy is in, they want to see that film. “Twilight” is still the rage with this group…becuase the guys are “Yummy”. “Star Trek” at least is in there, because of Pine, Quinto and “the guy” from “Lord of the Rings”.

Oh, the pain of being a father with a daughter…13 going on 30…

SpocksINNERconflict
March 12, 2009 2:13 pm

See, this is why nothing changes and for all our wishing and watching star trek, Gender-specific-everything still dominates our culture, even a fictional culture supposedly beyond traditionally enforced gender rolls.

I’m not overreacting…take a look at where we are: on a Star Trek site, hoping for a Trek future where our commonalities are not separated by our genetic make up.

Brian
March 12, 2009 2:16 pm

Great work, James! Keep it up!

AdamTrek
March 12, 2009 2:18 pm

16. Todd – March 12, 2009
I at first read that the focus group was made up of six-year-olds, and reading the article I’m like, wow these six-year-olds are quite intelligent! But… they watch Quantum of Solace and Harold & Kumar? Who are their parents!? Ohhhhhh they’re GRADE six, not six-year-olds. (Goes back to re-read article now).

I think it’s still too young, but that’s only my opinion, IDIC.

=A=

March 12, 2009 2:27 pm

Great Job James T., thanks!

FarDreaming
March 12, 2009 2:28 pm

Thanks for the great report, James T.! You obviously put a lot of time and thought into it.

I’m a little dissapointed with the girls there – as a 13 year-old I was a fan of Trek from day one.

Keep up the good work in getting the word out there!

March 12, 2009 2:47 pm

Eh, the little girls will grow up one day. Every woman I know above a certain age of maturity has an appreciation for, or loves Star Trek.

NCC-73515
March 12, 2009 2:48 pm

“fiction series such as Star Wars”

You realize of course that SW is not Sci-Fi, according to George Lucas himself ;)

Outstanding article! Same experiences here in Germany.

March 12, 2009 2:51 pm

#10: Only at first, man, only at first.

T.J. Trek
March 12, 2009 2:58 pm

That’s totally cool about Nimoy letting the James T. and his family join him as special guests. I’ve really been impressed by how much the entire movie production has allowed this site to be a part of things, and to give the site there time (especially in the beginning).

March 12, 2009 3:03 pm

I’ve always thought that marketing to a specific gender is outdated foolishness. Why only target something to half of your potential audience?

My 13-year-old daughter is already a big fan of classic Trek and her 6-year-old sister is even starting to join in the fun.

indranee
March 12, 2009 3:05 pm

my niece — a girl big into video games — is 8. she’s big into SW and also ST so far (mainly the movies). I’m going to show her the trailer and see if she’s interested.

and oh yeah, sixth graders watching Harold and Kumar?! hmm.

Chroma
March 12, 2009 3:10 pm

Great job James! You write very well, and your report was very detailed and well researched.

I was already a huge Trek fan by the time I was your age, and I can only hope that other kids get hooked after the new film comes out.

Christine
March 12, 2009 3:17 pm

“..James and his family will be attending the premiere of the new Star Trek movie as special guests of Leonard Nimoy….”

LUCKY KID. D: (Mreh… I’m only 4; 5 years older. xP) You know I’d wet myself if I even got to stand within like… 5 feet of Leonard Nimoy.

#29 : “my niece — a girl big into video games — is 8. she’s big into SW and also ST so far (mainly the movies).”

That’s really cool. I was a huge Star Wars junkie around that same age, but didn’t get into ‘Trek until last year. But, BOY, am I into it. x3

#18; Drapera :: “…“Twilight” is still the rage with this group…becuase the guys are “Yummy”. …”

NO. NO. The guys in Twilight are not “yummy”. It’s the rage with my group, yes, but I think the guy who plays Edward Cullen looks like a creeper. Like someone who’d break into your house and kidnap you. D: And do you KNOW what happened in the 4th book? Bella got PREGNANT. With EDWARD’S CHILD. It’s like, whoa, I don’t fly like that.
(All right, rant over. ^^; Star Trek over Twilight, w00t!)

And, #10, I hope you’re kidding; that’s kind of harsh right there. (-,-)

THX-1138-Star Trek: Timmy!
March 12, 2009 3:21 pm

Question:

Does this mean that James T. is now a Trekmovie.com moderator?

I think he failed in his informal survey by not asking the kids if they would prefer seeing the movie if it were titled Star Trek: 09 or Star Trek: TFB or Star Trek: 11. Because we know what they all want to see…..

Star Trek: Timmy!

(you’ll have to pry the keyboard from my cold, dead hands before I quit)

March 12, 2009 3:28 pm

i hope the movie prop doesnt look too much like that ‘space ray-gun’

they shoulda kept the phase pistols from ent if they werent going to use wah-changs excellent design.

Odradek
March 12, 2009 3:28 pm

highly enjoyable article
my compliments, james

I Liked Him Better Before He Died!
March 12, 2009 3:42 pm

#28.

Think about that for a second. If the world did away with demographics and tried to market to everyone, as far as movie’s go, they would all be along the lines of The Princess Bride or Romancing the Stone, with both action and romance… now these aren’t bad movies per say, but I for one like having variety. Let us guys have our action movies and the girls have their chick flicks. Its all about keeping order!

The Governator
March 12, 2009 3:49 pm

Good news.
I became interested in Star Trek when I was very young, so to see others doing the same is very promising for the future of the franchise.

Christine
March 12, 2009 3:52 pm

#35 :: “… Let us guys have our action movies and the girls have their chick flicks. Its all about keeping order! …”

Or vice versa, my friend. I’m into chick flicks AND action movies. And, y’know, some of my guys friends are into the romantic comedies and such… So, if they just make lots and lots and LOTS of movies, we’ll all be happy. :3

Hat Rick
March 12, 2009 3:55 pm

An ELEVEN-year-old wrote this article? It reads as if it were written by a professional writer!

Case in point: “All in all, I think that most of the kids to whom we showed the trailers would want to see the movie in the theaters when it is released on May 8. When the movie premiere gets closer, I will try and update TrekMovie how things are going with my friends and classmates.”

Note the correct use of the word, “whom,” just for example.

Good stuff!

March 12, 2009 4:07 pm

James T.- congratulations on an excellent job! This was a great article and a very insightful piece of writing. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to reading more stuff by you in the future.

Matthew
March 12, 2009 4:08 pm

I’ve got about £150 worth of pre-orders on the toys already – and I’m pushing 40 years of age…..I’ll be tearing through the stores throwing the little scamps behind me, as I rush to the tills to pay. LOL.

Sod the kids…..this movie is for the kid inside me! :)

March 12, 2009 4:11 pm

As for myself, I started getting interested in Star Trek around the time I was 10. I remember becoming quickly obsessed with the series/movies. Those were fun days- discovering a universe so detailed and unique. I must have sat down to draw the Starship Enterprise hundreds of times during that time. I’m happy to see even a few youngsters sharing similar experiences.

Mike Ten
March 12, 2009 4:28 pm

Paramount must be putting something in the water. My kids didn’t really think much of Star Trek until recently. After the first movie trailer came out my 13 year old son started watching TOS and Voyager repeats, put the Enterprise/Starfleet Delta logo on his computer and he and his brothers started asking alot of questions about the upcoming movie.

I think if this keeps up the new Trek movie is going to be a blockbuster.

Christine
March 12, 2009 4:34 pm

#41 :: “…I must have sat down to draw the Starship Enterprise hundreds of times during that time….”

Haha. That’s awesome. I doodle little chibi versions of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy in my notebooks during class. They’re generally arguing, acting completely out of character, or… um… whatever else. xD It’s a really bad habit, but hey, Economics and Algebra II can only hold your attention for so long.

I can’t draw the Enterprise. At all. D: But I can draw the people on it /really/ well… ;3

Paulaner
March 12, 2009 4:46 pm

#41 “I must have sat down to draw the Starship Enterprise hundreds of times during that time”

I tried to build one with folded paper and a lot of glue…

Cobalt 1365
March 12, 2009 5:08 pm

Yeah, 6th graders recognize John Cho from Harold and Kumar? wow. And weren’t these kids in 3rd grade when Alias went off the air? these kids are watching some pretty grown up tv. maybe I’m just a little naive but, dang.

Terrific article, James T
You have a lot of older Trek fans very jealous right now, getting to see it as a guest of Leonard Nimoy, congrats

March 12, 2009 5:09 pm

#35: My point really isn’t that you stop making action films or you stop making romance films, etc. My point is that marketing them to a specific gender isn’t really necessary. Market action films to action film fans and market romance films to romance film fans — don’t try to assume what gender those folks are.

In particular, Star Trek has always has always had a wide gender appeal, so it seems strange to me that one would think of it in terms of a “boys” film. It’s clear that they’re marketing it as an action film and that’s fine. I just think marketers put too much emphasis on gender when they think about these things.

Christine
March 12, 2009 5:12 pm

#45 :: “…And weren’t these kids in 3rd grade when Alias went off the air? these kids are watching some pretty grown up tv. maybe I’m just a little naive but, dang…”

Maybe a little. ^__^;;
Back when I was in even 2nd and 3rd grade (which would’ve been 7 years ago… oh geez) most of the people in my class had seen all the Chucky movies that had been out at that time. (Child’s Play, etc. etc… or whatever they were. You know.) But, this generation’s just itching to grow up faster every year. And 6th graders? Yeah, most of them are into stuff like Harold and Kumar. xD It’s the “go watch dumb comedies” age these days.

Al Levy
March 12, 2009 5:18 pm

James T:

A very solid piece of reporting.

kfir
March 12, 2009 5:21 pm

i’m sorry but this is silly..
like many of you i also started to see star trek when i was about the age of 8 and i remember it like it was yesterday.. my school ended at 13:45 and the next generation was on at 14:00 on the israeli channel 2, and i always ran when the bell rang as fast as i could always looking on my watch, in the winters i was coming all wet and in the summers all sweat.. what didnt i do to get in time..
even then that show opened my mind to many things and my head was in space, i didn’t stop asking my father about space, stars, planets, the moon, how big the entreprise.
anyway, what i want to say is that as i grew older i found out that i’m uniqe in my way, i love thing that not so many other love.. or as my friend said when i showed him the new trailer “that’s look cool, but that’s not my thing”.. meaning we, trekkies, borned with this “geeky” mind, and others (the unlucky ones i guess:) didn’t and so it comes to two: or that you like, or you dont.
and i hope that the new movie will succeed in connecting between the gaps, though i dont believe so, but it’s some kind of interesting sociel experiment in a way:)

March 12, 2009 5:31 pm

Cool! I was born into a world of Star Trek (the TV in the hospital was airing an episode of TOS). I can’t imagine growing uo without it.
I’m glad these kids have a chance to enjoy it.

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