Harve Bennett was the producer for the golden age of Star Trek films back in the 1980s. After the lackluster performance of Star Trek V in 1989, Bennett (along with writer David Laurie) developed a script called ‘Star Trek: The Academy Years’ which was to reboot the franchise with younger actors playing Kirk and Spock at Starfleet Academy. In the end the studio decided to give the original cast one more go and Bennett left the franchise. Earlier this year when Variety broke the first news about Trek XI and used the word ‘Academy’ in their brief plot outline many thought that Bennett’s script was back. Even after J.J. Abrams called the Variety article ‘not entirely accurate’ many still speculated there was some link, including Mr. Bennett himself.
In an interview (conducted in June but just published on Starbase 972) Bennett states…
My assumption is that somebody thought it was a good thing to do and so they publicized it, and then somebody else said "don’t you realize that before you do that you’re going to have to make a deal with the people who brought the idea and made a script out of it?". Well, they weren’t ready to do that, I’m sure, so either they will do something else, or – I’ll get a phone call.
so should Bennett expect a call?…probably not
Bennett’s own description of his script revolves around teenage Kirk and Spock. According to TrekMovie sources the focus of Trek XI is on much a older Kirk and Spock on the Enterprise itself. One source has described a scene at the Academy but it is brief and Kirk and Spock do not even meet. In an online chat in August co-writer Roberto Orci was asked specifically if there was any link with Trek XI and the Bennett script, he made it clear that was not…
Have not seen any previous unproduced treatments from anyone that came before, but Alex and I have read much of the published books, and of course seen all the films and TV. (co-writer) Alex (Kurtzman) and I came into this with a pretty clear vision of what we would want to see, especially since, as longtime fans, we’ve had years tothink ahout it. Star Trek is actually the property that made me want to become a writer.
Kirk and Spock and the invention of the warp drive?
In the interview Bennett gives more detail on the academy years script. Apparently John Cusack was to be their Spock and Ethan Hawke was to be the young Kirk. (pretty good choices actually, this film would have followed Cusack’s ‘Say Anything’ and Hawke’s ‘Dead Poets Society’) There were also roles for Shatner and Nimoy bookending the movie, but in a post Trek V visit to the Academy. The story that Bennett describes sounds interesting but plays a bit fast and loose with Trek continuity…
we had told the origin of how they had met, of how had Kirk lost his only true love, and we leave them going off on separate missions, to be reunited later in the series, and we invented warp speed, which was the perfect place to put it in the chronology of StarTrek.
Perfect place?…I guess Bennett missed the Original Series episode which established that warp was developed well before Kirk was born. Ironically the 8th movie in the franchise ‘Star Trek: First Contact’ had the TNG crew go back in time and give Zefram Cochrane a hand inventing warp drive.
Interestingly Bennet says that the same year that First Contact was released Paramount again expressed interest in his script…
In 1996 I had a meeting with Sherry Lansing, who was then the president of Paramount, she read the script and said "why didn’t you…?", I said "Sherry, don’t ask". She said "we’re going to do this", I said "wonderful, wonderful". Three days later she called and said "I don’t know how to tell you this but the television department is working on a pilot called Enterprise, and it is a prequel, and they are objecting to our making the Academy Years."
The timing seems a little unlikely, in 96 the TNG films were still riding high and Enterprise was still 5 years away. It is more likely this happened in the post ‘Insurrection’ period as Voyager was winding down (around 99).
Check out Starbase 972 to read more including Bennett discussing why Star Trek V failed and his relationship with Gene Roddenberry.
I, for one, am glad Bennett’s Starfleet Academy movie didn’t get made — and mostly for continuity reasons. The fact that Bennett is not aware of continuity with regard to the established Trek timeline regarding the invention of warp drive is disturbing and shows that he’s not qualified to be writing prequels. He’s a fine producer though — and I applaud him for having the courage to stand up to William Shatner about the failings of the Star Trek V storyline and script.
If the early word (plot details) about Abram’s film are correct then I think he is definitely on the right track with this.
I just have no desire to see teenage versions of these characters — at least not as the focus of a film and not if the script violates continuity.
We so need teenage characters – Wesley Crusher The Movie could be a box-office goldmine!
The bits and pieces described here show that THE ACADEMY YEARS would have been too apocryphal, even for the most casual Trek fan. Kirk and Spock “invented” warp drive? No thanks. I’m sure it would have gone through further drafts, and someone like Okuda could have caught the glaring mistakes in the timeline, but still, teenage Kirk and Spock seems a little too gimmicky to me. It’s MUPPET BABIES in space.
So, Anthony, it sounds like you know a great deal more about TREK XI then you’re letting on. Are you sworn to secrecy or are you just not telling us because you want us to be surprised by the announcements as they occur?
On the Academy… We’ve seen a LOT of prequels lately. Some great (Star Wars III, Batman Begins) some not so (about half the Enterprise episodes made the characters seem as though they either knew too little or too much about their future.) The new Bond film is an odd mix with an older Judy Densch acting as though she’s just met this new kid, 007.
My 2 cents… prequels (and sequels) work if they include surprises and don’t just tick off the expected points of the franchise.
I do wonder what the Academy connection can be between the four major TOS characters. Kirk is clearly the youngster of the group. Scotty and McCoy are a good decade older each. Spock could be Kirk’s contemporary, but he could also be as much as fifty years older. (We’re never told his age, but his dad made it to 202 and Spock’s only a little grey at the temples in Picard’s time.)
Anyway… here’s looking ahead to 2008.
The Academy Years team would probably have sorted many of the continuity issues, had they gone ahead with it, although there was a lot less ‘official’ or ‘deuterocanonical’ material to work from in the late 80s than now!!
I mean, the novel of STII:TWOK had Galaxy class starships exploring the Andromeda Galaxy, when TNG tried to downplay the extent of the Kirk era’s exploration of the galaxy.
As for prequels, I loathe ‘box-ticking’ prequels, where they simply show you something happen in exactly the way you expect. Casino Royale, being a reboot rather than a prequel only has one cast member in common with past iterations of the Bond series and Dame Judi isn’t playing the same M as in Brosnan’s films!
I guess CR is kind of the start of ‘Ultimate Bond’ (to draw comparisons with Marvel’s Ultimate comicbook line!)
I like prequels that add unexpected information to the backgrounds of characters and their universe: things that make you assess everything you’ve seen before in a new light.
There’s somthing you don’t know about Harve, he smokes rocks!!!!
Darth “mega turkey” Ballz
The “1996 Academy/Enterprise” story is nonsense. Paramount wouldn’t begin considering a premise for the fifth television series until the year 2000.
No prequels. No young Kirk and Spock. No different actors playing them. NO. Just say “No.”
I’m looking forward to seeing young Kirk and Spock played by new actors, myself.
Bad idea back then and a bad Idea now. The mystery of weather they will make it through the academy will not be there as well as any tough missions you just know that they will get out of. They should have done a Captain Sulu series.
Bennett produced some of the best “Star Trek” on the last 30 years, but his “Academy Years” project was a fairly obvious attempt to consolidate himself as duke of the film franchise fiefdom. Roddenberry’s health was in decline in 1990, TNG hadn’t really taken off the way it would a year or two later, and GR had effectively been taken out of the equation on the motion picture side. The movies were the money makers at that point, and while Bennett was definitely a power player, he had to share that power with Nimoy and Shatner, who each had enormous clout with the studio. If Bennett could pull the film franchise out of the post-Trek V doldrums by recasting the leads, then he would eliminated his “partners” and essentially be running the show as the studio’s Star Trek point man – much as Rick Berman would become a few short years later. Having lost his bid to run the show, he chose to pack up and leave, rather than “just” produce another film, so the studio turned to the next obvious guy who had produced success for them, and “Star Trek VI” became Nimoy’s baby. He came up with the story and he picked the director. When he talks about this, Bennett always talks about feeling “betrayed” by the studio and the other cast members, who allegedly badmouthed the project at conventions and to the fan press, for killing the film, and he always says that the studio could have produced the same “Star Trek VI” we eventually got 18 months after releasing his Academy project. Realistically though, if the Academy project had been a hit, does anybody really think Paramount would have gone back to a sixty-something cast and Shatner and Nimoy’s multi-million dollar salaries when they could pay younger people a lot less for a similar return at the box office? Bennett saw a chance to make himself the king, and when it failed, he packed up his toys and went home.
Star Trek VI has to be made at the time it was…
and truthfully, I wish it had been made instead
of Star Trek V.
VI was a high note to go out on.
I just despise the Starfleet Academy premise for a film. As #3 says up above, it really IS MUPPET BABIES in space…
I really don’t think an Okuda would catch continuity errors unless he was asked and that’s a pretty big “if”. Sybok anyone? Starfleet Academy would have been a continuation of that kind of crap.
Well, since the upcoming film isn’t based on Bennett’s script and doesn’t have much to do with the Academy as far as anyone knows, none of that should be much of a problem.
This movie isn’t going to succeed or fail based on whether they get the continuity right.
Showing Kirk and company younger is a vioaltion of continuity?
What, was Kirk born commanding the Enterprise? Was he born 35 years of age?
It cracks me up some of the left field, entirely unjustified excuses people come up with to try to illustrate how a Pre-TOS film highlighting Kirk and crew younger is a BAD idea.
The stretching and grasping becomes laughable.
For the naysayers, I say we get the point, you like Voyager and/or Enterprise and want a film based on those majestic failed turds.
I am SO pleasantly thankful that will NEVER , EVER, happen.
The “invention” of warp drive is an obvious misinterpretation. AICN reviewed the full Academy Years script a while back and in it Kirk, Spock and Scotty are the first to use dilithium-enhanced warp drive, not warp drive per se. The script stated that previously it took hours to accelerate to warp.
I agree with STanky Mc Fibbrish #8 that they should not make prequels, especially with different actors playing Spock and Kirk. But I agree even more with Josh #14 that they should not waste time basing movies on junk like Voyager and Enterprise. I guess I don’t want to see any more new Trek produced at all. Next Generation had its good points for awhile, but in my opinion, anything produced since the orginal series and a few of the early movies has been a disappointment. I’m sure a lot of you disagree and want new Trek no matter how bad or unfaithful to the original it is, but that is how I feel. I’m happy enough with rewatching the originals instead of some modern day ‘interpretation.’
Has anyone considered yet ( I haven’t seen it postulated) that the film isn’t going to be flashbacks, or two different time periods, but rather OLD Kirk and Spock are going to MEET young Kirk and Spock. Same physical space. Same time frame.
If that ends up being the case that just kicks much to do about all out ass!
Old Kirk needs young Kirks help, or vice versa.
Can you imagine the scene chewing hamfisted splendidly outrageous notion of two Kirks playing off each other, my GOD the film stock will melt.
It’s simply too much power for one camera to behold.
The back and forth Shatnerian pauses alone justifies the ticket price.
I think everyone has been thinking like Khan, two dimensionally. Open your mind Quaid! Free Mars!
Dammit I figured it out! Kirk isn’t going to reflect on his youth, as a bookend, or flashback, he is going to INTERACT with his youthful self!
Your secrets out J.J.
One Kirk to rule them all.
“For the naysayers, I say we get the point, you like Voyager and/or Enterprise and want a film based on those majestic failed turds.”
Well, you obviously didn’t get the point because personally I am neither a devoted fan of Voyager or Enterprise (although both did have some episodes of merit…it wasn’t all trash).
I guess I am just a little biased against “young anything” movies. I didn’t like Young Sherlock Holmes, Young Indiana Jones…Muppet Babies…you get the picture.
I am not against having an Academy *scene/flashback* but I do not want to see an entire film set in that era. If you want to label what kind of fan I am…I am an old school TOS (boldy go…explore strange new worlds, remember that?) kind of guy. I’d like to see a film about exploration…the crew meeting up for the first time (since we never got an “origin story” for TOS) and then taking the Enterprise out somewhere to enounter something or a race that no one had seen before.
I’d like to see the film focus on the characters, yes…but not lose sight of the science fiction storytelling. Abram’s Twilight Zone reference in a previous interview gave me cause to celebrate because it looks like he understands what we need to get back to with regard to Trek.
Oh…and I don’t mind recasting.
Never have. I always knew that if there going to be continuing stories of Kirk and Spock, etc…that they would eventually have to recast.
If you want to see more stories with the TOS crew, it’s just going to be a fact of life. I would rather them recast than see geriatric Kirk and Spock…and a Star Trek without Scotty or McCoy because James Doohan and DeKelley are no longer with us. R.I.P.
#17 NO one connected to the studio has even suggested that this film or future films will present DS9, Voyager or Enterprise stories….
Why is that even being brought up?
Josh, that is certainly and interesting concept, but if you envisage this Young / Older Kirk and Spock teamup as occurring due to yet ANOTHER time travel style senario, rather than some, say, “intervention” by some dramatic unknown “enemy / force / thing”, then I’d pass, as I’m time travel played out due to numerous movie plots.
And unless the Younger actors bore a striking resemblence to Bill and Leonard, I think they would be UNABLE to sustain an audiences credibility for the FULL length of a movie’s interaction together.
But I like the idea.