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EXCLUSIVE: Report From Paris Star Trek News Conference w/ Q&A

On Tuesday April 14th,  J.J. Abrams, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoë Saldana and Eric Bana all came to the Hotel Parc Hyatt in one of upscale districts of Paris to talk to the press about Star Trek. Unification France has provided TrekMovie with an exclusive report from the event, with photos and a transcript of the Q&A. We also have a report from the French screening of the film for the press (no spoilers).

 

 

Report: French Press Conference
submitted by Eric Saussine of Unification France
 


Paris ‘Star Trek’ press conference

Question: Did you feel free when you worked on Star Trek ?

J.J. Abrams: It’s a challenge to work on a 50 year old series. I adopted a non-fan approach. I wanted to do a good entertainment which wouldn’t be insulting to the fans. I wanted to do my version of the original series, to have fun and to go back to Kirk and Spock. But the movie was essentially aiming at widening Star Trek’s audience.

Question: Was there a passing of the baton between you and William Shatner ?

Chris Pine: When I knew that I got the role, I wrote him a letter to introduce myself, to tell how much I respected his work et how much I would try my best to be respectful of the character. We were to meet but he was very busy shooting the end of the season of Boston Legal so it didn’t work out, we didn’t meet. I hope to have the opportunity to do it soon.

Question: Cloverfield is a tribute to the fifties monster movies, Mission : Impossible III and Star Trek are adaptations of TV series. Is it impossible for movies to be original today?

JJ: I would never have thought to do another sequel to something that was started fifty years ago by Leonard Nimoy. Then I was told there were ten movies before!… You know, doing Star Trek again is no cynical decision – The last two Star Trek movies and the last TV series didn’t work as well as expected. Star Trek is dead in many countries and not in very good shape in mine. But I love the characters and I thought that there was enormous emotional potential in bringing these characters back.

Question: What was your approach in bringing a series from the sixties to the screen today ?

J.J. Abrams: The question we asked ourselves was ‘is the sixties vision of the future still relevant today?’ We asked that question for the sets, the uniforms, the communicators that look like today’s iPhones… So we didn’t want to change everything but we took a series of small decisions everyday on every aspect of the production. But technology is not the main point and, like Gene Roddenberry, we paid attention to the characters who are the most important part of Star Trek.


JJ Abrams and Chris Pine face the French media

Question: Eric, you love beautiful cars and produced a documentary about one of your own recently. What do you think about your ship in Star Trek ?

Eric Bana: Compared to the Enterprise, Narada is a tougher-looking ship. Her bowels are visible. You have cables everywhere. She has a very audacious design. She’s like a living animal. Let’s say they have the Mercedes, I have the Lamborghini!

Question: How was it to work with Leonard Nimoy?

Zachary Quinto: It was a privilege working with him. He had first look on who was cast for the part. I was surprised at how gracious he was. I always felt supported, I never felt judged or having to please his expectations. We’ve become friends. Recently we exchanged e-mails about how he felt after the Austin premiere.

JJ Abrams: Even for a non-fan, working with Leonard Nimoy was such an experience. I was terrified giving him notes. I mean… who was I to give notes to the guy who created such an icon? But I found out that he wanted to know. He grabbed me and said: "Tell me, tell me!" Then I just realized he was an actor before all. I have to imagine how emotional it was for him to play a role he didn’t think he would play again.


Eric Bana and Zachary Quinto face the French media

Question: How did you feel following in the footsteps of Nichelle Nichols?

Zoë Saldana: After I got the part, I felt like totally paranoid. I didn’t watch the series, I didn’t watch the films. I didn’t want to reproduce what Nichelle did because I would have been no good. When Nichelle came to the set I was too shy to go and and have lunch with her and J.J. I later met her on the set and I discovered such a graceful, simple, elegant woman. From that moment I wanted to be like her as a woman, not just to mimic her character.


Zoe Saldana at Paris press conference

More photos from the Paris press conference at UnificationFrance and also at Monstersandcritics.com and wcbs880.com.  


Zoe and Zach and Chris all striking poses in Paris
(Photo: EPA)

Report from French press screening + mini-review [no spoilers]
Last Friday morning, the French press gathered at the beautiful Gaumont Opera movie theatre, ten meter’s away from Paramount Distribution France headquarters, next to the famous Paris Opera House. The press was invited to screen J.J. Abrams’s latest epic. Our special envoys found that some of Paris’ most elitist reviewers came out happy from the screening, which may say a lot when reviews are in print. What was surprising was that at the end of the screening the audience of jaded French journalists and critics applauded, which extremely for this type of film, especially for Star Trek which is often mocked in France. 

Our group from Unification had five of its journalists on the spot to see if J.J. Abrams had achieved its goals. Not unlike Star Trek’s main ‘Supreme Court’ the group was made of distinct individuals: a hardcore fan worried about the timeline, a Trek enthusiast who also happened to be more concerned about just the quality of this picture, two sci-fi fans and a casual moviegoer. We can happily say the new Star Trek is a resounding success with the "French Supreme Court". The only dissent amongst the five, was the one worried about the timeline who liked the film ‘as a movie’ but had concerns about it as ‘a Star Trek movie.’

For a more review critique of Star Trek (in French), visit unificationfrance.com

Star Trek opens to the public in France on May 6th (and will also have an advance screening at the Jules Verne Film Festival on April 26th).

All Photos are from Unification France, except where noted.

Sort by:   newest | oldest
TrekTwenty
April 15, 2009 12:38 pm

The good news keeps rolling in =)

May 8th can’t come soon enough!!

April 15, 2009 12:39 pm

^ May 7th!

GraniteTrek
April 15, 2009 12:40 pm

Gee, a purist that worries? Never!

Loskene
April 15, 2009 12:40 pm

More of the same really, isn’t it

SaphronGirl
April 15, 2009 12:41 pm

I love how Pine and Quinto are always together.

TrekTwenty
April 15, 2009 12:42 pm

ahh, you’re right!

But I have a final exam the night of May 7th… so may 8th for me =(

John from Cincinnati
April 15, 2009 12:45 pm

Here’s a quote from JJ:

“We tried to avoid as much as possible making a movie that was as insular and myopic as the films I was familiar with and the series,” he says.

“Trying to reach a broader audience was not part of their agenda.

“This movie felt from the beginning like if it was going to work it needed to reach beyond just the tried and true fans.”

This just smacks me as an insult. As a tried and true fan myself, how does JJ Abrams thinks he knows me or knows what I like? It just happens as a fan of Star Trek for almost 40 years, that I have been waiting my whole life for Trek to be portrayed as sexy and hip and fun. Did it ever occur to JJ that this is what Trekkers have been wanting? Somewhere along the line with previous movies, Hollywood had a prejudice about Trek and was making movies that they thought “nerds” wanted to see. (FYI Hollywood, not all Trekkers are nerds)

Yippeekaiyaymofo
April 15, 2009 12:48 pm

“On Tuesday May 14th…”
someone can’t wait, haha :)

John from Cincinnati
April 15, 2009 12:49 pm

“The only dissent amongst the five, was the one worried about the timeline who liked the film ‘as a movie’ but had concerns about it as ‘a Star Trek movie.’ ”

Good thing that dissenter was part of the French media and not a poor soul who posts on here. They’d be labeled a canon nazi and other degrading names by Dennis Bailey and others who run this site.

Yippeekaiyaymofo
April 15, 2009 12:53 pm

ok, cool.

April 15, 2009 12:56 pm

warning for trolling John from Cincinnati

comments to http://trekmovie.com/about/feedback

CaptainRickover
April 15, 2009 12:57 pm

# 9

Trekkie-bashing was part of the marketing from the very beginning.

“This movie is not for the old fans, but for the new fans of Star Trek”

“This is not your daddy’s Star Trek”

“Stuipid reverve of the original material”

etc.

They think they have to hit us hard in the public to let the moviegoers think “If this movie is not for the idiotic fans, then it have to be good”. I fear that aggressive marekting will be sucessfull in May.

What have I done, to get so many punches in my belly, day for day? I did no harm to anyone !

My revenge will come – I will see this movie only one time! No re-watching, no DVDs, no BlueRays! Ha!

ety3
April 15, 2009 1:04 pm

Where can I get a nice, big wallpaper of that pic behind the team at the table? (Essentially, a widescreen version of the poster.)

desertrat
April 15, 2009 1:07 pm

They look tired.

This is not a complaint..just an observation.

I guess when you are flying across the globe, jet lag will hit.

TrekTwenty
April 15, 2009 1:08 pm

@ 7

I seriously doubt he means to offend at all. It’s more about precedents. Much of Trek in the last decade has been sort of blah. Very sterile, very gray. He saw the state of the franchise at it’s lowest; anyone NOT familiar with trek would probably draw the same conclusions and not necessarily recognize that this reboot is exactly what a lot of fans were looking for.

And as for the “not your father’s trek” deal…I suspect that’s more from the marketing department at Paramount and less from JJ. He seems like a pretty classy guy – if nothing else, a smart one. He’s not out to alienate us.

April 15, 2009 1:14 pm

Stop looking for insults where there are none. If anything, all he said were actually VALID points. I get that Star Trek is our baby, but damn, this baby has taken some missteps and some have been really ugly.

I can see why JJ took the approach he did, he wants it to succeed for the fans and nonfans alike.

April 15, 2009 1:21 pm

9.9 Once again, the precious few complainers sound EXACTLY like the people that hated the new Battlestar Galactica because they dared to change things. And once again, no one will listen to them.

Dear God, people, the FRENCH liked a Star Trek film! What more evidence do you need that this thing is great?

John from Cincinnati
April 15, 2009 1:22 pm

15.

I agree with you about the staleness. But wouldn’t that be more of a knock against those putting out the product? Somehow trekkers always get a bad rap.

Kirk, James T.
April 15, 2009 1:23 pm

more fools the guy worried about the timeline – seems as though this movie has been a resounding success wherever it goes to!

John from Cincinnati
April 15, 2009 1:24 pm

17.

Get with the program. Go back to school and learn how to read. The complaints here are not about the new movie or how it’s changed, they’re about how it’s being marketed at Trekkers expense or is that concept beyond you?

Closettrekker
April 15, 2009 1:25 pm

John From Cincinnati:

Why so insecure?

earthclanbootstrap
April 15, 2009 1:27 pm

@ 15

I don’t think he MEANS to be offensive, but on a certain level he is.

If he’s as smart and classy a guy as all that, he should realise how he’s coming off and that it is not necessarily a wise tactic to blow off the established fanbase as a bunch of losers (which is essentially what he’s done on a pretty consistent basis since day one of his press junkets). Now, myself personally, I could give a felgercarb because I recognize that while it’s pretty damn snide and elitist, he’s probably just being unthinking rather than malicious. He’s got a movie to sell to the masses, after all…

And as prickish as it came across to some people, I STILL think that “Warp Nacelles Monthly” is one of the most frakking funny things I have ever heard in my life, so of course I’ll give him credit for that! ;-)

SHCone
April 15, 2009 1:29 pm

I don’t think JJ means to be disrespectful. I think us tried and true fans are so used to being mocked that we’re defensive.

I think he just means that the ‘tried-and-true’s’ or TaT’s as I’ll call us are, financially, not strong enough to float the franchise. We didn’t float Enterprise or Nemesis and to a studio that’s terrifying. Movies are a business, as well as entertainment, and both masters must be served.

I think JJ just means they had to retool it to get the attention of the general moviegoer. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as they kept the core truths of Star Trek alive inside the new package. I might be wrong, as I HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE YET (see how logical and easy that is, folks?), but I’m encouraged by all the positivity, and by Nimoy himself, that Trek is preserved wonderfully inside this big, flashy box.

April 15, 2009 1:30 pm

Zoe’s statement says so much more, especially about the ideology of the movie and the series:

“and I discovered such a graceful, simple, elegant woman. From that moment I wanted to be like her as a woman, not just to mimic her character.”

This is the philosophy of Trek, in all its incarnations and will basically stay the same no matter how many different actors play the roles or how many variations of the “Big E” there might be.

Star Trek’s model is not to imitate, but to “boldly go,” discover the unknowns, temporarily hidden, to broaden our horizons and perspectives.

Not merely imitating what society expects, but to forge ahead, to discover those unknowns with increased knowledge and temperance to understand our universe and ourselves.

Isn’t this what I.D.I.C. is all about? After all, RISK is OUR business.

This is what I have taken from the series, as a fundamental message, and what I expect from it, if it bears the name “Star Trek.”

April 15, 2009 1:31 pm

#12 –
So you’d rather have a bad movie that is exactly the same as the Original Series than a good movie that is more creative and using new and different ideas.

#16-
Totally correct.

Closettrekker
April 15, 2009 1:31 pm

#20—“they’re about how it’s being marketed at Trekkers expense or is that concept beyond you?”

Being marketed at the expense of Trek fans?

WTF?

Stating out loud that this movie has to appeal to more than just the established fans is not an insult. It is an acknowledgement of a mathematical certainty.

If you put $150 million into the production of a film—-it has to garner significantly more than that in returns.

How many times would an estimated 2 million fans worldwide have to go and see this movie to do that?

Breathe, John…Breathe….

Jim
April 15, 2009 1:37 pm

#15 – Anyone who thinks this “not your daddy’s ST” shizzle came from a marketing department needs to check this thread that ran more than a year ago – http://trekmovie.com/2007/12/21/lindelof-its-not-your-daddys-star-trek/.

This line came from Lindelof, a member of the creative team who will also be working on the next screenplay (should such a thing come to fruition). All these left-handed compliments about being “respectful” continue to gripe my cookies. I find the whole approach rather arrogant and disrespectful of the fans who have kept “the franchise” alive all these years. JJ Abrams talks out of both sides of his mouth in first condemning a “50” year old TV show (do your math, please), then talking about how enthralling he found the characters. Claiming to have simultaneously made the film with the fans in mind and to broaden the appeal of ST. It all strikes me as contradictory. There are those who have said “It’s marketspeak – he’s just selling”. I say that if he’s that contradictory, how can you believe ANYTHING he says.

In the eyes of thousands of fans around the world, ST did not need to be “rehabilitated” and saved from an army of “nerds” . I would much prefer to have left it for dead, flawed as it was, without MASS APPEAL, than to see ST dumbed down so it could gain wider acceptance.

Chris
April 15, 2009 1:38 pm

Those people are looking TIRED!! I hope they get some rest soon

Stephan
April 15, 2009 1:44 pm

@anthony:

I found a report about the event in Paris on people.com:

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20272621,00.html?xid=rss-fullcontent

They talk about a $210 million film.

Do you know anything about this number? Is the budget higher than expected?

Would be cool if you can find out anything about it.

Greetings from Germany,

Stephan

April 15, 2009 1:45 pm

@ 26 I agree….

JJ, from what I have seen so far, has accomplished this goal.

Living up to ideals of trek + a wide target audience = a very successful film

C’mon folks, JJ is actually saving the franchise.

P(success | narrow audience) = death of a franchise.

Where as:

P(success | wide audience) = 99.99%

LOGIC, LOGIC, and LOGIC…lol.

Closettrekker
April 15, 2009 1:51 pm

#27—-What is it that you think Lindelof was doing, if not promoting the idea of the film in its early stages?

Everytime they do an interview—it’s marketing!

I own a business, and each and every time I talk about it with people—-I am marketing my product! And much of the time, I’m trying to get people who have never been in one of my stores to come in and check it out.

Lindelof’s comments were no different.

“I would much prefer to have left it for dead, flawed as it was, without MASS APPEAL, than to see ST dumbed down so it could gain wider acceptance.”

Is that what happened? Was it dumbed down? Or do you simply have a revisionist’s view of how intelliegent it was to begin with?

The last “cerebral” Star Trek movie was 30 years ago. The 9 since have been—guess what?

Popcorn movies.

TWOK—great popcorn movie
TSFS—fanboy popcorn movie
TVH—crossover popcorn movie
TFF—bad popcorn movie
TUC—popcorn mystery movie
GEN—bad fanboy popcorn movie
FC—popcorn action movie
INS—not so good popcorn action movie
NEM—bad popcorn movie

John from Cincinnati
April 15, 2009 1:53 pm

26.

When I wake up to my pet Sehlat eating my tribble I get cantankerous.

Nero=Bitch
April 15, 2009 1:53 pm

in the pix: whats with the evian in wine bottles? lol… damn the french are weird…lol

Will_H
April 15, 2009 1:56 pm

Ive honestly found JJ’s remarks offensive on a lot of occasions, so this is no different. Lets be real, he wants to make money off of this film, and he knows us Trekkies are going to go see it, even if he indirectly badmouths us. I get the feeling that he knew just what he wanted to do with this movie, regardless of how it fit in with the existing cannon universe, and then went back and found little ways to make everything work. Im still stoked for the movie, dont get me wrong, but Ive never liked JJ’s approach to the whole thing. Oh, and this:

“JJ: I would never have thought to do another sequel to something that was started fifty years ago by Leonard Nimoy.”

Um no, JJ, it was started by a man named Gene Roddenberry, though it wouldnt surprise me if he didnt know enough about Star Trek to know the difference.

Closettrekker
April 15, 2009 1:56 pm

#33—-At least you won’t have some 40,000 tribbles the next day….

And that’s what you get for being late with your Sehlat’s dinner!

ety3
April 15, 2009 1:59 pm

Why are people surprised and still taken aback by the whole “this ain’t the Star Trek you think it is” approach? This is nothing new.

I accepted quite a while back that JJ, Paramount, et al, would *have* to market this film as being wholly different in order for it to succeed. Because of that realization, I haven’t taken any of this “your father’s Star Trek” stuff personally. It is serving a purpose to draw new viewers in.

And that is only a good thing.

April 15, 2009 1:59 pm

@35

Did you ever wonder if this was translated from French to English?

Anyone who knows Trek knows Gene created it…geez give JJ a break…Even Spock makes mistakes and flubs his lines…

luke montgomery
April 15, 2009 2:01 pm

Salut tout le monde !

Years ago when I was learning Francais as an American transplant who moved to Quebec I would pop in the Star Trek films and watch them in French. As I knew them word for word in English it was a great way to learn (It also helps to watch in English with the French subtitles) I can now wow my French speaking trekker friends with technobable in French which they even struggle with.

Did anyone else ever catch the French voice for Worf sounded like a little weasely old man? Bad casting. Also, Scotty speaking French with a thick Scotish accent was a hoot. It led to me and a friend killing a day in Paris talking to everyone we met in French but with REAL heavy Cockney accents (I can’t do Scotish) which sounds “tres drole.”

Just a random French-related observation…

A plus tard….

John from Cincinnati
April 15, 2009 2:04 pm

36.

You’re right, but now I have a fat Sehlat.

April 15, 2009 2:06 pm

@39

Try learning French from a teacher in High School with very thick southern accent…now “that’s a mess”…as we say in the south…lol.

Closettrekker
April 15, 2009 2:08 pm

#35—I think that, like with Harve Bennett and Nick Meyer in 1982, Star Trek needed a new perspective from people who weren’t fans of the original series prior to coming aboard.

A fresh take was sought after then, and a fresh take was sought after now.

“it was started by a man named Gene Roddenberry, though it wouldnt surprise me if he didnt know enough about Star Trek to know the difference.”

He does, and has credited Gene many times.

He even talked about him later in the same press conference:

“…like Gene Roddenberry, we paid attention to the characters who are the most important part of Star Trek.”

Abrams was no less familiar with Trek than Harve Bennett and Nick Meyer were when they came aboard. The biggest difference is that Lindelof, Orci, and Kurtzman *are* established fans of Star Trek.

I wonder if Damon, Bob, and Alex feel insulted when JJ talks about doing things differently, making things currently relevant, removing the cheese, etc.

I doubt it…

Closettrekker
April 15, 2009 2:10 pm

Oops. Looks like #35 turned into #34.

I certainly wasn’t talking to myself…..I mean it!

Chris Doohan
April 15, 2009 2:13 pm

Ces gars ont la chance d’aller à Paris. Je suis si jalouse, elle est l’une de mes villes préférées.

April 15, 2009 2:17 pm

RE: 210Million
THat is definitely not the budget, even with marketing…that may be the budget in Australian dollars or something. I think it is around 150 with much of the marketing cost.

ger
April 15, 2009 2:18 pm

How come he didn’t know about the ten movies when he said in some earlier interviews that he saw The Motion Picture as a kid?

How can you possibly lose track of the movies (!), especially when films like TWOK, Voyage Home and First Contact were the best scifi to get with only re-runs of the Star Wars trilogy as its competition?

Colonel West
April 15, 2009 2:23 pm

@9:

John your at it again, lol! yet in the other thread you said you already have your tickets booked for the first show!

I haven’t done that yet and I’m sure the majority of us that you class as that ridiculously over the top and uncalled for phrase haven’t booked their tickets yet!

Lay off the insults and have some reasoned debate or else you’ll find yourself gone quicker than a red shirt sent on a landing party.

April 15, 2009 2:25 pm

34. ““JJ: I would never have thought to do another sequel to something that was started fifty years ago by Leonard Nimoy.”

That was said lightly. Of course JJ knows and he acknowledges Roddenberry elsewhere. He just said that because Leonard Nimoy is in his movie.

43. Les filles sont jalouses, Chris, les hommes sont jaloux. A moins qu’il ne te soit arrivé quelque chose !!! Si tu passes à Paris, fais le nous savoir, on t’emmenera dans un bon restaurant.

C.S. Lewis
April 15, 2009 2:27 pm
I hope John from Cincinnati is not expelled from this site. His observation is spot-on! The problem is that so-called Star Trek “nerds” are so desperate for material — any material that does not insult their intelligence — they will accept almost anything in return, even if it is fit only for the trash heap in every other respect. In this way, it reminds me of the victimized spouse who stays because “I love him!” Abrams’ approach, which does not entirely appeal to me as you know, is to treat Star Trek like any other “franchise” — that is, TO SELL IT ON THE OPEN MARKET. That is the point of a business, after all. Some fans seem to think of Star Trek as some sort of government agency that never needs to justify itself financially on the basis that it is an absolute moral good that the unwashed simply do not, cannot appreciate. Of course, this is balderdash and poppycock. Star Trek was intended to make money, and to do that it must reach the widest audience possible within its basic business plan. It is a source of regret to this old fan that many of the ideas and details that most appealed to me in the 1970s and earlier no longer apply to our present world. To my mind, this is a true and everlasting shame – and one that may be reversed before too long, given the collapse of the Liberal value system of the West. None… Read more »
Bart
April 15, 2009 2:27 pm

Just returned from the Star Trek avant premiere in brussels, including the presence of Karl Urban and John Cho.

Great film, little too fast fir my liking. Didn’t like the sets though, much preferred the look, feel and uniforms from the Kelvin,

Paulaner
April 15, 2009 2:28 pm

I am a hard-core Trekker, but I never felt offended but Abrams and co. On the contrary, I agree with them on many things.

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