Summer Box Office budget reduction – Trek 3 tidbits

In an article released by The Hollywood Reporter earlier this fall titled “Summer Box Office Fallout: Studios’ New Fear of the $200 Million Tentpole” there was a little bit about Trek 3’s (and the previous Trek movie’s) production costs.  Moving to a more film tax friendly location has long been the standard for movie companies. This year’s summer blockbuster season was bigger and more crowded than ever, with more disappointing domestic box office results for most movies this summer. It has already officially been confirmed that the follow up to Man of Steel, the as yet unnamed Batman/Superman movie will be filmed in Michigan for the tax credits. Moving production for the next Star Trek movie to a state or country more film tax friendly seems to be one of the main ways to keep costs in check for the 3rd Abramsverse movie, while still providing the excellent level of set design, visual effects, etc.

Paramount also will look to save money on another Star Trek — a franchise, but not quite in the top tier. This summer’s $190 million production Star Trek Into Darkness has earned over $462 million worldwide; its international haul has exceeded expectations at $234 million, but domestically, its $228.5 million hasn’t matched the first film. Whereas the first two were shot in L.A., the next will be filmed in a more tax-friendly location. “We’re making it for what it should have been shot for last time if we had made it outside of L.A., which we would have done except that [director J.J. Abrams] didn’t want to,” says a studio source. “That was a $20 million issue.”

The Hollywood Reporter

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Russell Meyers
November 11, 2013 5:53 pm

Vancouver here we come!?

November 11, 2013 5:57 pm

And so it begins. Penny-pinching at Paramount and the diminishing of Star Trek.

November 11, 2013 5:58 pm

$170 million versus $190 million. It’s odd to say but 20 mil doesn’t seem like a huge difference all things considered. Hm. Definitely odd to say. Wish I had $20 million.

November 11, 2013 6:02 pm

First tangible studio indication there’d even BE a next movie. I mean, yeah, we knew there would be, but its but like they’re just thrilled at the prospect.

November 11, 2013 6:03 pm

2. Thorny

A lower budget won’t necessarily be a bad thing. It’s not how much money is spent but how the money is spent.

November 11, 2013 6:05 pm

@5 Exactly. There was a huge budget reduction between The Motion Picture and Wrath of Kahn. I think most people will agree that WoK turned out O.K.

November 11, 2013 6:37 pm

@ 1. Russell Meyers – November 11, 2013

“Vancouver here we come!?”

Or Toronto :)

November 11, 2013 6:38 pm

Sloppy storytelling is what diminishes Star Trek.

Mad Mann
November 11, 2013 6:39 pm

This is good news. Lowering the budget is what Star Trek needs. Yeah, I know it sounds counterintuitive, but Star Trek should be about character and story, NOT spectacle and set-pieces. Taking away the toys will force the movie-makers to focus on what’s important to Star Trek. Like Platitude said, the best Star Trek movie of all, TWOK, was also the cheapest!

Star Trek does not need a street chase or crashing starships to be inspiring and remembered, it needs heart and those character moments that remind us why we fell in love with Trek in the first place.

The studio should quit trying to chase a billion dollar box office with a Star Trek film, it just ain’t gonna happen. Just let it be what it’s supposed to be.

Blue Thunder
November 11, 2013 6:47 pm

#8 – Somthing that STC and SF can relate to.

November 11, 2013 7:21 pm

“a franchise, but not quite in the top tier. ”

Not in the top tier, is that supposed to be a joke?

Emperor Mike of the Alternate Empire
November 11, 2013 7:26 pm

It comes down to how good a Story it is. Because th Story was a weak. I only saw Trek 1 times at the box office. The Least amount I have seen any of the Trek Movies.

November 11, 2013 7:46 pm

I don’t mind lower budgets. Some of my favourite films have had extremely low budgets (wrath of khan anyone ?)

November 11, 2013 7:51 pm

Top tier franchises are capable of producing billion dollar box office, and like it or not, Trek can’t. Unless someone makes a decision to toss canon, there are enough limitations to the base material that will prevent that from happening. Need proof? Look at the debate on killing Kirk. A handful of people (myself included) would have had no problem keeping him dead, and the reaction to that was that is was heresy to even suggest it. Trek is a solid franchise, but at the moment, Star Wars and Marvel are the gold standard. Trek would be better served by avoiding the gimmicky stories, and producing more movies on tighter budgets to rebuild the brand.

November 11, 2013 7:59 pm

@2. Paramount surrendering 20MM to accommodate their production company is hardly penny pinching, it’s more social commentary on the state of the industry, and the rather repressive tax environment in the state of California. If moving the production to Michigan or Canada adds 20MM to the bottom line, that’s a smart business decision. Would STID have been diminished any with Vengeance burning in orbit as opposed to crashing into San Francisco? Or the closing chase not done on the flying whatever that thing was supposed to be? Probably not – just effects heavy movie making that was more style then substance. Gravity was made on almost half the budget, had A list actors, will do similar box office to STID, and probably be nominated for an Oscar. Don’t tell me we can’t do the same with Trek.

s. now
November 11, 2013 8:25 pm

Puerto Rico USA has the best offers for movies, just saying…BOB and others…

November 11, 2013 8:35 pm

This could be a good thing. But it seems most of the money on STID went to CGI: I know they farmed out much CGI STID work anyway, so moving to Canada may not cut that budget much. I’m wondering if the production team now has to find a Canadian brewery? That’s location shooting where they could save money. I do feel that the dependence on spectacle is starting to bite them in the you know where. The long term revenue stream is in the design work they kind of disregarded for special effects; i.e. — Engineering (brewery) play set, blueprints, et al. I’m hoping they have a better plot. Gravity did very well with an intelligent story — yeah, it had flaws like every movie.

Hat Rick
November 11, 2013 9:09 pm
I knew it. Paramount is lowering the stakes because it isn’t quite as happy with STID as it wanted to be. I think all of us who follow ST can agree that the writing is on the wall and has been for some time. $190 million is not a budget Trek may ever seen again (if future budgets are adjusted for inflation). The upside? At least they’re apparently talking about the next sequel. The downside? We’re looking at a budget range for the next sequel between $120 million and $160 million, with about 95 percent confidence. That’s my best estimate. CGI shots will be reduced by 15 to 20 percent, with maximum reuse of effects generated for STID (whether they made the final cut or not). Good-bye, any chance of an “A”-list guest star. That’s okay, because I think Trek can more than make up for it with a sufficiently good story. But still, it’s a comedown for the franchise. And for that, we can thank the crappy scheduling skills and corporate (CBS versus Paramount) coordination that led to a four-year interregnum between ST(2009) and STID. In the same amount of time it took for us to get to STID from ST(2009), we had three — count’em — THREE Iron Man movies. And that doesn’t even count Iron Man’s appearances in The Avengers in the interim. As well, there were three — count ’em — THREE Transformers movies in an approximately equivalent period (2007-2011) plus one to be released in… Read more »
Hat Rick
November 11, 2013 9:11 pm

“Even releasing STID in 2012 would have been relatively late,” is what I meant to say.

November 11, 2013 9:25 pm

…but domestically, its $228.5 million hasn’t matched the first film.

I know I’ve harped on it some, but a little better domestic publicity a couple of months in advance woulda done yiz a world of good, Paramount. Don’t be eejits next time, awright?

3 Daystrom, Couldn’t agree more. I’d even be happy with 1/10 of that … and your #5,

“… it’s HOW the money is spent” YESS! EXACTLY.

9 Mad Mann, I CONCUR SO HARD. Everything you said here is right on target and should be heeded.

A Little ABC of Star Trek …

Acting, not “acting out” / Branching out, not Beating up / Curiousity, not cracking ribs / Discovery, not Death and Defence / Edifying, not Echoing all other successful films / Finding new ways, not Flying Fists / Graduating from Gratuitous violence / Heart, not hurting others / Intuition, IDIC and Inspiration not Injuries / ….

TREK, not Tentpoles.

Feel free to add your own alphabetic hoped-for qualities in the next film … [don’t want to use emoticons right now but you can read my smile I’m sure.]

Curious Cadet
November 11, 2013 9:25 pm

@15. Phil,
“Gravity was made on almost half the budget, had A list actors, will do similar box office to STID, and probably be nominated for an Oscar. Don’t tell me we can’t do the same with Trek.”

In 38 days, Gravity has already earned $8 million more worldwide than STID earned during its entire run. Gravity is still bringing in over $10 million a week domestically and finished the weekend in 6th place after taking 4th during the week. Gravity is poised to do MUCH better box office than STID, for half the money.

And it will probably WIN an Oscar.

The problem is that as long as Paramount hires guys like Orci to do for Star Trek what he did for Transformers, then yes, I’m telling you Trek can’t do the same as Gravity.

November 11, 2013 9:29 pm

14 Phil, “there are enough limitations to the base material that will prevent that from happening. Need proof? Look at the debate on killing Kirk. A handful of people (myself included) would have had no problem keeping him dead, and the reaction to that was that is was heresy to even suggest it.”

Ya, but … Marvel wouldn’t kill Iron Man, Thor, Capt America or any of the other superheroes, so wtf. Kirk is, kinda, Trek’s superhero [just look at what he survived in both new movies :P ]

I see your point, but I think the canon that stands in the way – and canon I would not want to change in Trek – is that Starfleet is [supposedly] not about destruction, dismay and death, it’s about exploring. Seems a little airy-fairy to the peeps in the Industry [a too-apt name] these days, they’d rather see disease and death wrapped in … oh wait.

November 11, 2013 9:31 pm

I’m very upset about the budget reduction. I like Star Trek because of the special effects, all of the explosions. That’s why the original series spawned such longevity in the franchise: because it had a HUGE budget, and the focus was mostly on the special effects. The original series was so successful because it kept the action going at a frantic pace with hardly a moment to think and reflect on any important issues or ideas (ideas are so boring!) With this budget reduction, the whole franchise is in danger of becoming something thoughtful.
But wait, I need not worry so much. Abrams and Orci and company would never let that happen. It would lose too much money,and Abrams doesn’t really like all that philosophy stuff. The writing team will pull us through. Go Transformers!
I am reminded of that story of how Martin Luther King told Nichelle Nichols she simply must stay on Star Trek. He told her it was so important to have a show on the air that had a huge budget so that it could have non-stop special effects full of explosions and mindless action, without much deep social commentary. It is a message we must never forget.

November 11, 2013 9:32 pm

15, Phil “Would STID have been diminished any with Vengeance burning in orbit as opposed to crashing into San Francisco? Or the closing chase not done on the flying whatever that thing was supposed to be? Probably not – just effects heavy movie making that was more style then substance.”

Yeah, the effect of giving Mr Abrams $20M more than he needed to make a good movie, in other words ;-)

November 11, 2013 9:35 pm

17 Hat Rick, and I add to your gnashing of teeth [which I echo nearly word for word btw] that damn-awful “publicity” done in the US for STiD. Talk about last-minute, geez.

November 11, 2013 9:37 pm

22 GarySeven, Sarcasm seen and appreciated! MLK to Ms Nichols particularly LOL.

Red Dead Ryan
November 11, 2013 9:44 pm

The main reasons for the less-than-stellar domestic box office take had nothing to do with budget. It had to do with the fact that: a) the dumbass marketing strategy that had “Into Darkness” open internationally two or three weeks in advance of North America, thus allowing for the entire movie to be spoiled online, and b) CBS not willing to agree to a compromise over a marketing strategy Paramount and Bad Robot proposed that would favor nuTrek merchandise over TOS stuff. As a result, J.J Abrams is now directing the next “Star Wars” movie instead of the next “Star Trek” film.

It’s not about tax breaks here. It’s about the suits at Paramount and CBS frakking up the marketing and release of STID.

November 11, 2013 9:46 pm

Georgia!!!! Great tax breaks.
They are building a huge studio complex literally 20 minutes from my house.

Welcome South Brother!

Red Dead Ryan
November 11, 2013 10:05 pm
The main reason why TWOK was able to be made on the (relative) cheap was because CGI was still in its infancy, therefore limiting what can be depicted onscreen. Today’s visual effects cost more because what has been seen in movies like “Avatar” (probably the closest comparison to the “exploring new worlds” angle of Trek) are extremely elaborate and realistic, requiring many more personnel and man-hours devoted to creating new worlds, building sets, and designing new aliens. Not to mention the salaries of all the new actors versus the old casts, and you already have a much higher cast. “Gravity” featured only two main actors (plus a few extras), didn’t require many sets to be built, so that cut down on costs right off the bat. The visual effects would have cost a lot of money, but they also weren’t dealing with alien spaceships, alien worlds, or space battles. So I’m not sure this movie can be used as an accurate comparison. The only way to do “Star Trek” properly is to hire a lot of talented individuals and top-notch resources to go along with a great team of writers who can deliver an epic story that thrills audiences and can match the scope of an “Avatar” or “Star Wars”. And that all costs a lot of money, so if Paramount is looking to cut costs, then they will be forced to make smaller, cheaper Trek movies without the best talent that Hollywood has to offer. Sure, you can hire… Read more »
Red Dead Ryan
November 11, 2013 10:07 pm


“Not to mention the salaries of all the new actors versus the old casts, and you already have a much higher COST.”

Damn typos!!!

November 11, 2013 10:15 pm

We tried it once your way, Khan.
I’m laughing at the reduced budget.

Garak's Pride
November 11, 2013 10:17 pm

Matt Wright,

Thanks for closing down that bad behaving guy on the other thread today.

Much appreciated!

November 11, 2013 10:20 pm

Guys, that’s wishful thinking. Their is very little savings in filming in Canada anymore since the Canadian economy has been doing better than the U.S. economy the past several years. The U.S. $ and Canadian $ are pretty much equal now, whereas 6 years ago the CN $ was 1/3 cheaper.

Mexico hear we come would be my bet.

7. Ahmed – November 11, 2013
@ 1. Russell Meyers – November 11, 2013

“Vancouver here we come!?”

Or Toronto :)

November 11, 2013 10:22 pm

@28. RDR, you are generally right on the special effects costing more. However, now that they have two sets of special effects renderings done by ILM for ST 2009 and STID, there definitely should be some savings on the new movie.

November 11, 2013 10:27 pm

2. Not necessarily.

Hey, Ender’s filmed in Louisiana for that reason.

And, yeah, films aren’t done in Canada as much as they used to be.

Red Dead Ryan
November 11, 2013 10:33 pm


“@28. RDR, you are generally right on the special effects costing more. However, now that they have two sets of special effects renderings done by ILM for ST 2009 and STID, there definitely should be some savings on the new movie.”

I agree…but remember that Disney now owns ILM, and could jack up the rates for contracts with other studios like Paramount.

Now I suppose Paramount can go with WETA next time, but then they’d have to “rebuild” the visual effects, which would negate a lot of potential savings. Plus I don’t know if WETA would be much cheaper, either.

November 11, 2013 10:36 pm


Yea, I’d say Mexico or Eastern Europe if they go out of country, or a cheap U.S. state for filming like Louisiana, Michigan or Kentucky.

Star Trek is unusual in that they will have to move a lot of fixed set materials in storage in LA (i.e. the Enterprise sets), so that’s why I think Baja, Mexico might have a slight edge. Plus, Mexico is gaining traction again for flims now the crime wave is down — especially in Baja.

Red Dead Ryan
November 11, 2013 10:40 pm

I believe that the soundstages and giant water tank built for “Titanic” are still standing in Baja, so it shouldn’t be hard or expensive to move the sets there.

November 11, 2013 10:41 pm



I wonder if Paramount owns all of the computer special effects files for STID and ST-2009, or does ILM maintain those? Conceivably, if Paramount owns them, they could have a new firm use those as the starting point?

I’d love to see WETA get a shot at Star Trek.

November 11, 2013 10:42 pm

@37. Yea, they have a 35-acre complex there that has been very active again recently.

Brett L.
November 11, 2013 10:45 pm

Don’t forget that TOS wasn’t only a success because of its huge budget and mind-numbing explosions. TOS was all about showcasing the variety of things one can destroy when motivated by vengeance: buildings, ships, cities, planets…we learned that when things are destroyed in spectacular fashion, they create debris that makes it difficult for other ships and men in spacesuits to fly through.

TOS was also a success because it wasn’t “too cerebral.” So fear not, because smaller budget or no, as long as we have volcano freezing devices and transwarp transporters that make space travel and the very premise of Star TREK obsolete, I have every confidence that science or anything else “cerebral” won’t get in the way of the next film.

November 11, 2013 10:49 pm

I read recently that the ‘Titanic’ water tank was used for All Is Lost, which was filmed in 2012.

Bill Peters
November 11, 2013 10:49 pm

I wish you guys would stop be such downers on the next flim, WE know Paramount can make a great Trek film and that we can’t judge something based on statements like we want to save money, of course the studio’s want to save money, it means more profits for them, it doesn’t however mean a lack luster next Trek Film, Many people I see post here want Trek to be A,B,C and D and if it isn’t to them it isn’t Trek, but I tell you Trek has been Different inbteween TOS and ENT, and that we can Live with IDIC for Trek to make sure we keep on getting new trek.

Red Dead Ryan
November 11, 2013 10:54 pm


I would assume that Paramount would own the rights to the visual effects…but then again, I’m not sure how that all works. Maybe ILM gets royalties everytime that their effects are used?

I believe that ILM did effects work for TNG, but only for “Encounter At Farpoint”. Paramount cut ties with them afterward to save costs, but not sure if they had to pay royalties afterward. I know “ILM” was still listed in the end credits despite working only on a single episode of the show, so maybe they do get royalties, and that Paramount acknowledges that in the end credits. I might be wrong about this though.

November 11, 2013 10:56 pm

Well, if Abrams will be making Star Wars in England, maybe it would be good to have Trek nearby.

In any event, sci fi is not a genre that’s too dependent on location. There’s no need to make a San Francisco-heavy movie after the amount it got in the first two.

(Thinking now…I think all but two of the original ten have at least some scenes on Earth. Interesting.)

November 12, 2013 2:01 am

It just Bugs me so much that virtually every bit of press JJ did for STID
began with him saying he wasn’t a trek fan and he prefered Star Wars.
But I think Abrams’ Trek is spot on in every way, except his somewhat bizzare way of marketing his own trek movies.

November 12, 2013 2:34 am

This is another indication that politicians in my home state (California) are idiots (as if there was any doubts before). They are driving away an industry that is globally associated with Hollywood/California. No wonder that despite some of highest taxes (income, property, consumption) among states we still have yearly budget deficits.

November 12, 2013 4:20 am

They should not only exchange the director but the whole team, even the writers to create something different. They need another round of fresh blood for the franchise.

November 12, 2013 4:56 am

, Gravity budget: $ 100.000.000
Ender Game, Oblivion,After Earth budget:$110-140.000.000
I mean, Star Trek needs new brave ideas, not recycled material and mega budgets for fireworks. It needs a new Team.

November 12, 2013 5:26 am

Dear Star Trek,

Come to Atlanta. It’s where the players play. It has a lot of futuristic looking building features and laboratorys (with the CDC, USGS, and Georgia Tech), low taxes, a booming TV and film industry, and Zachary Quinto will have a great hangout place.

There’s only one rule: DO NOT BRING YOUR POLITICS HERE OR TRY TO CHANGE ANYTHING!!!!! It will only bring down this nice haven absent of your progressive ideology. We all seem to be getting along politically and we don’t want to upset the balance of our lifestyle, which is why I don’t attempt moving to LA and interfering with your crazy area. Thank you.


Citizens of Atlanta