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Two years ago today, On May 8, 2009, JJ Abrams’ Star Trek was released, spawning a new era for the franchise Gene Roddenberry created four decades earlier. Today TrekMovie takes a look back, and a look forward. We also have a new poll for you to rank the Star Trek movie vs the other ten Trek features.
2 years since the "the future began" with Star Trek 2009
Today Star Trek is spoken of in the same context as other tent pole film franchises like Batman, Mission Impossible, and others. This new normal is a big change from the state of things following the box office disappointment of Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002 and the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005. Exactly two years ago this weekend the Star Trek movie opened with over $75 million in domestic box office, 50% more than Nemesis made in its entire theatrical run. And compare Star Trek to this weekend’s big hit Thor,which opened with an estimated $66 million domestically, and the Abrams Trek film is even more impressive.
Once again (and possibly more than ever) Star Trek was appealing to a broad base. By all accounts Star Trek scored well with critics, Trek fans and even beyond the traditional young male demographic of sci-fi/action movies.
Award-winning trailer for "Star Trek"
Of course not all fans agree (would it be Star Trek if they did?). Much is different about JJ Abrams Star Trek, and not just due to the new universe created by Nero and Spock’s time-travel trip through a black hole. Star Trek upped the action quotient and added big doses of humor and sex appeal. Then again, weren’t all of these elements of the original Star Trek series from the 1960s? JJ Abrams and his team of writers and producers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk did what many thought was impossible: to succeed with a property that even some Paramount executives said was suffering from "franchise fatigue."
That is not to say that Star Trek is a perfect film. With its goal of being a new origin story, the Romulan threat plot was a bit thin and we had to suspend a lot of disbelief with the series of chance encounters and promotions to get us to that final scene of the new crew ready for their mission on the USS Enterprise. The film also made some compromises in order to appeal to a wider audience, such as simplifying Star Trek’s traditional Stardate system. And even though it had the biggest franchise budget since Star Trek: The Motion Picture (in adjusted $), they still saved money by barely redressing a Budweiser plant to stand in for the engineering section of the (very) shiny new USS Enterprise.
However, most fans agree that all of this was outweighed by everything that worked with Star Trek. Almost all the cries of "you cannot recast Kirk, Spock, etc." were silenced once fans saw Star Trek’s excellent new cast take on these iconic roles, with Karl Urban’s McCoy being especially highly praised. The fast pace of the film, combined with Abrams directing style, created a "thrill-ride" aspect never seen before with Star Trek. That is not to say there weren’t still moments for character development and arcs, especially with Chris Pine’s Kirk. And while the film was geared for that general audience, the Trek fans on the creative team (especially Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof) ensured that there were plenty of fan highlights, from a brief tribble sighting to the inclusion of Leonard Nimoy’s Spock in a pivotal role. And there can be no doubt that Star Trek was a technical achievement, with the bigger budget brining amazing effects, makeup, costumes and more.
The final scene of "Star Trek" sets things up for the sequel
Now that all of that is out of the way, the real challenge for Star Trek’s new "Supreme Court" is what comes next. Co-writer/producer Alex Kurtzman has noted that second films are often the ones that go deeper (and are often better), citing Empire Strikes Back as a prime example. And JJ Abrams and other "court" members have talked about the Star Trek sequel having a bigger scope, including more character development and possibly delving into an allegorical plot (not unlike many original Star Trek series episodes). And of course they need to figure out what to call it, as Star Trek II is already taken.
For now Trek fans are waiting patiently to find out more about this next Star Trek film, which is currently scheduled for a June 29, 2012 release. The writing team of Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof began writing the script last October, however there is still not an approved official first draft and producer JJ Abrams has yet to announce if he will direct the film. Filming is supposedly starting in September, which would create a bit of a compressed schedule compared to the 2009 movie (and most other tentpole films). However, it would actually be a longer schedule than Abrams’ Super 8, due in theaters June 10th. JJ recently promised as soon as that film drops, he will be ready to swing his lens-flare focus onto Trek.
We here at TrekMovie (along with fans across the world) can’t wait to find out what is next for the new crew of the USS Enterprise.
"Star Trek" is just the beginning
POLL: Ranking "Star Trek"
With two years of reflection, how do you rank the Star Trek movie with the other 10 Trek feature films?