Star Trek Film Franchise Started 28 Years Ago Today

Happy Star Trek film franchise anniversary day! On December 7th 1979* the epic turn of the Star Trek TV series hit the big screen in the form of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

ST:TMP was rushed and met with mixed reaction, but was enough of a success to launch the one of the longest running film franchise in history. Coincidentally the TOS portion of the Trek film franchise also ended in the first weekend of December. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country premiered December 6th 1991. Next week will mark the 5 year point since the tenth and last film in the series (Star Trek Nemesis) premiered and we are currently in the longest Trek film drought since 1979. But in 1 year and 18 days the franchise is back with the simply titled Star Trek. Lets hope we never have to wait this long again.

Were you there?
Vote in the latest poll…were you there opening night 28 years ago?

*Nitpicker Note: ST:TMP technically premiered 28 years ago yesterday, on December 6th 1979 at a gala fund-raising event for the National Space Club at the Smithsonian Institute National Air and Space Museum. The event was attended by Gene Roddenberry and the cast.

Step into the wayback machine and watch the trailer for ST: TMP

and while we are talking 1979…check out the number one hit song of that year

Other fun facts from December 1979

  • The first Indiana Jones film (Raiders of the Lost Ark) was in production
  • The Soviet Union invaded and seized control of Afghanistan (leading to the USA Olympics boycott in 1980)
  • The first European Ariane rocket was launched
  • The eradication of the smallpox virus is certified
  • At least 4 members of the cast of the new Star Trek were yet to be born (Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Rachel Nichols, and Anton Yelchin
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remind me why the 80s sucked lol (except for star trek ofcourse)

This future trekkie was gestating in the womb.

Moog Rogues and vector graphics and that narrator guy’s voice. I’m luvin’ it!

December 7, 1979… a date that will live in… famy.

Oh yeah, and Blondie!!!!

Hey, I thought I was Steve! Who’s this impostor?

I remember standing in the cold outside a Boston theater — first in line — waiting to by tickets for myself and my friends. I wish ST XI wasn’t opening on Christmas day. We won’t have a chance to repeat the experience for this re-start.

Gosh I was there and was only 14 years old.

And next Christmas it all comes full circle.

I remember waiting for this film and taking a non Trek fan with me after it was over I felt so bad for him.I felt like I duped the poor guy into seeing it..I remember saying after,apologetically,it wasn’t THAT BAD.his response to me was that I was just a Trek fan who couldn’t accept the fact that it was a bad movie.He was right.I was in denial.After this movie I figured Trek was done.Then Wrath of Khan came out and Trek hit a kind of stride,but still it was a bit of a fanboy series.As much as I like the original cast and am looking forward to seeing Nimoy as Spock again I am looking forward to seeing this concept(Trek with the original characters,not aged actors)bring the legend back.Mr Abrams;Blow our minds.

I guess from now on I’ll be “Steve” instead of “steve”. Seems there should be a way to keep two people from having the same ID names on this site though.

And Yes, I was there at the World Premiere of STTMP (OUTSIDE the theater, I might add), it was at the KB MacArthur theater in Washington DC, with the reception at the Air and Space Museum afterwards. Got a few pictures, I remember the cast emerging from the theater, Shatner and Kelley came out a side entrance (messed up my carefully calibrated focus on my camera) and shook some fans hands, Nimoy and Doohan came out the front and went right for the limo. Pretty exciting evening, I did go back and see the movie in that same theater a few days later (I don’t think it’s there anymore).

Yes, opening night I was a freshman in college. What fun it was.

5. CmdrR – December 7, 2007
“December 7, 1979… a date that will live in… famy.”

Considering this is also the day Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, I understand your reference and attempt at humor, but considering the tragedy of it and the loss of lives…in my opinion I think your post was in poor taste.

I remember the premiere quite well. I had to take the bus to get to the theatre since I didn’t drive yet. Even at age 15 I had the discretion to know this wasn’t a great movie. What’s more it wasn’t “my” Star Trek. Sure the actors were there but that wasn’t my Enterprise, my uniforms or even my Klingons! STII took us back to something closer, but I’m still waiting to see “my” Star Trek up there on the big screen.

Loved most of TMP.( Wished they’d left out the “going thru the cloud” sequence, though. How many reaction at a blue screen shots did they think Takei had in him, anyway?) TMP gave us a lot, but what it gave was better used by TWOK. Anyway, it was all fun. So, I’m hoping XI makes me feel like a teenager again.

Star Trek and Debbie Harry, what’s not to like!!

13: Shut up

I was a senior in high school, and I stood in line for an hour and a half for the premiere. It was freezing that night, but I didn’t care. Earlier that year, James Doohan visited the local college campus and really pumped up the crowd in anticipation of TMP. “Wait ’til you see my engine room,” he said with a grin. I don’t think I’d anticipated any film, before or since, like I awaited that one — except maybe for Trek ’08…..

I liked ST:TMP…and like the director’s cut even more. We haven’t seen *real* science fiction in a Star Trek feature film since. Yes, it was “cerebral” but that’s what I liked about it.

I was still four months away from being born when this movie came out so I never actually got to see it on the big screen. Over the years this film has grown on me little by little. Having said that I would still rank this second last out of the Trek film. With Star Trek V obviously being ranked last.

I can onl imagine the anticipation this film brought. All I know is that I can’t remember ever feeling as much anticipation about a Star Trek film as I do about Star Trek (2008)!

I was told once that the narrtor’s voice is Orson Welles.

Definity as much anticipation for Trek 2008 as I felt for ST;TMP in ’79.Trek 2008 is going to be a make or break film.

17. Dave – December 7, 2007
“13: Shut up”

Now how kind was that?….I am sure you can do much better if you try. If you don’t like the opinion, that’s the way it goes, but I wasn’t talking to you unless you and CmdrR are the same poster. If you REALLY don’t like it, whine to Anthony.

Yes, my friend wanted me to cut class, first year in college to see the first showing of the day. Silly me, I didn’t want to cut class. I did see it that evening with him and other friends. Very exciting indeed. I do remember unfortunately a guy snoring.

I think I’ll watch the Directors Cut tonight!

The narrator of the trailers for TMP was indeed Orson Welles, his wonderful voice very well used. Seeing that preview, you really thought that you might be transported into the incredible future Star Trek presented.

And that’s one of the things that TMP really did deliver. I was 12 when it premiered and I was captivated by it. My mother (who took me to the film) fell asleep about 20 minutes in. Go figure.

TMP may lack the momentum and action that TOS had, but it’s vision of the future, so complete, realistic, and detailed, sticks with me to this day. It has a special place in my heart, even if it drags a bit.

The narrator’s voice is Orson Welles… interestingly since director Robert Wise worked for Welles nearly 40 years earlier as editor on “Citizen Kane”… seemed fitting.

I had never anticipated a movie more… from seeing the blurbs each month in StarLog to seeing the first picture of the new Enterprise, I was jazzed… and was not disappointed. Having already been an old hand at Trek Fandom at the tender age of 12, and read the novel of TMP a couple days before the movie opened… I was raring to go see it. I didn’t get to see it opening day, but that weekend I convinced my dad to take me… and it was another great moment in my film loving life. The slower, more deliberate pace didn’t throw me, as I was already a fan of 2001… so it seemed like a natural extension of things that I already loved. I had never before seen a starship look so real… and television heroes seem so larger than life. For the next 20 years, it remained in my heart as a pure enjoyable experience… and I saw it many many times again. It would always sadden me when people would comment on its “slowness” or call it the “motion-less picture” when they talked about it in comparison to the more action packed, popcorny later films… but it remained the touchstone of my trek enthusiasm.

I am gratified that it, and the Director’s Edition that I had a part in, have been given a second chance… and it is regarded more fondly now in retrospect. It gives us a glimpse of the “franchise” at its crossroad. At the beginning of its greatest adventures. We witnessed a birth. A next step in its evolution… Even after my experiences with the DE, it remains one of my favorite films… and, like a good friend, I’ve overlooked its flaws and consider it one of the films that most influenced me in my professional life.

A great human adventure for me, indeed.


man i so sick of the abuse st: tmp gets. it had such incredible moments of beauty, that have not been seen in any star trek film, or really any other film i can think of, with the posible exception of 2001: a space odessey. its not perfect, but still is miles better than any st film tthat have followed.

it was the only one that was truly a film made for the cinema, not an extended tv episode.

and the new redeisgn of the old enterprise, will never match the elegent redesign of the old girl for they made in ’79. that thing is a work of art.

and what a fantastic score.

i do love that film. happy b day

Wow. Hard to believe it’s been that long.

I remember seeing TMP on opening night in a tiny California town called Los Banos. I enjoyed the movie and talked the owner of the theater into giving me the giant lobby poster with the cast cutouts and blinking lights.

Unfortunately, it was too big to fit in my house so I had to disassemble it and put it in storage – where it was destroyed by water damage years later. Sigh.

I also got the 35mm feature trailer for the film, which I sliced into hundreds of individual slides.

Since I was in broadcasting at the time, Paramount sent me an official press kit with cool cast photos.

A friend also sent me the shooting script for the film which had a completely different ending.

In the shooting script, no one could decipher V’ger’s message. Kirk and Spock had to beam now to the Smithsonian Institude and actually thread a 16mm film about Voyager on an antique 16mm projector! I kid you not.

I’ll have to dig that script out of box in the garage somewhere.

well, It may or may not not have been the best film, but it least it didn’t have the lightweight low budget production feel of many of the other movies. I hated the uniforms, hated the bridge, hated the transporter room, hated the rectangular nacelles with fins, hated the cold/rude version of Spock in the early going. Whatever was left was okay…

oh yeah, “a spockalypse now”. great film.

i really liked the part where the alien bursts from chekov’s chest. and those giant sandworms that kirk is riding across ceti alpha V, too cool.

i admit the film drags a bit when uhura is being chased by nomad into the steel factory, but it’s still pretty sweet how she crushes his ass.

wait a minute. i’ve been drinking and i think my 70’s dvd’s are in the wrong boxes.
never mind.

I didn’t see it in the theater that I can remember – I did get an iron on patch at Burger King though… TWOK was my first Trek in the Theater – and I saw it, and every other Trek after on it’s opening day… Bring on Christmas 08!!!

I was over 7 years away from being born.

15 years old, and I was there. Movieland in Yonkers, New York. Movieland was one of the first multiplexes in Westchester; 4 screens! TMP was in the biggest one (First one on the left!).

Some memories: The long line to buy the tickets, then the big cattle pen you had to wait in after you bought them. Then you’d see the previous showing let out and everyone was cheering and buzzing. “Was it cool?” someone would yell, and a lot of “Yeahs!” would come back.

Into the theater, and we found our seats, waiting for the previews to start. I’ll never forget the gasps and claps the moment the lights went down and Ilia’s theme started playing. TMP was the first movie I saw with a fanfare. Ilia’s theme playing in the dark definitely set a “big” tone to the film.

Then the first disappointment. I remember thinking that the titles looked like a bad vacation slide show. Very amateurish. No dissolve, no movement. Just the (admittedly cool, and now famous) new Star Trek font flashing the credits. But the theme! VERY cool! I really loved the music. (I still have the LP that I used to crank when I’d get home from HS) Then the Klingons showed up with their new theme, and got wiped out. I forgot about the credits…

Looking back, as I and others have posted here before, TMP ironically remains the most grandly cinematic of all the ST films. They never lit or photographed the Enterprise better. No Enterprise in any film or subsequent series ever felt as massively impressive as the Enterprise of TMP. As much as I love TWOK, it looks small after you see TMP. And no one who grew up watching ST as a kid in the 70’s, where ST really took hold in reruns, can watch the unfairly criticized Kirk/Scotty docking sequence and not choke up. The head on shot of the Enterprise in drydock with Goldsmith’s score crashing is one of the great moments.

Another thing, and someone needs to verify this, but i believe TMP sold more tickets than any other ST movie. When adjusted for inflation, TMP is the ST franchise box office champ. I did the math once, and although IV grossed more, it sold fewer tickets. So while Khan brought vigor to the franchise, and made it fun, TMP’s success ensured that Paramount would at least try another shot at ST.

So it is nice to recognize TMP for what it was, and what it meant. Now that it has been properly edited (with real credits!) it would be nice to have the one ST movie that really NEEDS to be seen on a big screen get a true HD polishing up, and be seen as a double bill with Khan next year before we all get in line for XI. Er, I mean, get our Fandango tickets. I guess no one really stands in line anymore!

P. S. I actually had dinner with production designer Harold Michelson and his wife Lillian years later, and it was a “fascinating” evening. He was (is?) a gentleman, and had some great stories about ST, Catch 22, and Mel Brooks.

Never forget the night I saw it. When Chekov remarked upon the Enterprise’s exit out of the wormhole, ‘We’re out of it.’ , someone yelled from the back of the theater – ‘So are we!’

The entire theater cracked up.

Well, what I hated a about TWOK: depressing Kirk, less ambitous story, lightweight production feel, Kahn’s crew somehow got much younger and blonder, Kahn somehow knows Chekov. What I liked about TWOK: Spock character back to true form, they fixed the uniforms (kind of), battle sequence special effects, audience more emotionally engaged…

I wasn’t much of a movie goer at 16 months old, preferred eating crayons and watching Scooby.

19. Mr Snuffleupacus – I agree TMP was very cerebral, and had the most awe-inspiring special effects IMO of all Trek. The unveiling of the Enterprise still gives me goosebumps. It showed what could have been in a Star Trek II Television series, which would have been cool.

I have to agree with the comments about TMP in particular having that “cinematic” quality that the other movies didn’t quite have. That’s not to say the other movies pale to TMP (the others have their own strengths), but that I think it isn’t the bad movie most seem to think it is.

I was there Opening Day, in College at 19 years old. House was packed with all age groups. Metal Command Insignia Pins being sold out front. Sold Out before I could get to them. An usher asked everyone who was waiting to see “Star Wars’ to move to one side, I thought the crowd was going to mob her as they corrected the mistake together – – “STAR TREK!!!!!” they shouted. She quickly disappeared wide-eyed and educated.

Been to all Trek Opening Days since . . . that Christmas Day 08 premiere may play havoc on my record.

#26 Daren Doc
Have tremendous feelings for this film as well. The MOST Cinematic of all Treks thus far.

Hmmm…….well, judging by the trailer and song, it’s a miracle anyone lived through the 70’s. They made TMP seem even more bland and boring than it actually was…and that takes work. Hard work.

I think I’ve fonder and more nostalgic memories of Blondie than of TMP. Damn, Debbie Harry was hot.

Loved TMP the only true 70’s version of Trek.

Strange, I don’t remember seeing TMP in the theater. I most definitely remember seeing TWOK though. When the opening fanfare sounded, and the starfield came up, the audience cheered!

I’m hoping for that kind of excitement for STXI.

(I think Orson Welles sounds like he’s about to fall asleep in the TMP trailer)

Say, I wonder if Bill Shatner has recorded his version of Heart Of Glass? Maybe a duet with Ms. Harry. :D

40. Dennis Bailey – December 7, 2007
I think I’ve fonder and more nostalgic memories of Blondie than of TMP. Damn, Debbie Harry was hot.

Hey, finally something we can agree on, Dennis! :)

I was freshman in college, and I can recall the anticipation for this movie was killing me!!!! I somehow talked this girl that I was dating at the time into seeing TMP. Within the first 20 minutes of the film she fell into a coma. I know this movie has taken a lot of abuse — but if you can recall all of the hype and build-up at the time, it was unfortunately a disappointment, a lot of fluff with no substance — and my G-d those pajama style uniforms were extremely painful to watch!

#43 Honored that you responded, and sorry I missed the link. I didn’t realize it led to the box office results. I only found this great site recently, and I am humbled by the company here.

I have a soft spot for TMP. I’m an oldest child, too!

I didn’t discover Trek until Search For Spock but since we’re talking anniversaries here I do remember the anticipation me and my friends had leading up to opening night of Trek VI. The theater was packed. A few people in costume. Having come off the disappointing Final Frontier my friends and I were anticipating the crew to pull one last winner from their hat. The lights dimmed and that night became one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at the movies. The audience was engaged. They were laughing, clapping and it all crescendoed with loud cheers and applause when Chang’s Bird of Prey bit the dust.


-I was roughly 7 years old at the time and remember seeing ads for the film on the backs of Marvel Comics during the summer of ’79 (featuring an artists rendition of the new Enterprise) and the tagline, “A 23rd Century Odyssey… Now.”

-I remember my father taking my sister and I to see it in an old-style movie house in Western Massaschusetts… nice and cozy and small, but with a big screen, so you were completely immersed by the picture… I remember the voyage through the V’Ger cloud was truly awesome to watch on the big screen

-I remember my father taking us to McDonald’s and picking up the STAR TREK Happy Meals, which, for some reason, came with very weird, spongy rubber space ships, which looked NOTHING like anything in the TREK universe!

-I remember ads for the Mego dolls and figures (again in various Marvel Comics), alongside ads for THE BLACK HOLE and “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” and wishing I’d get them ALL for Christmas! (And being completely disappointed that the Mego action figures didn’t come with ANY phasers or tricorders for the TREK figures.)

-I remember loving TMP initially, then thinking it was boring on reflection (my 7-year old mind thinking, “Where were the phaser/laser battles?”), then catching it again about 2 dozen times on my Dad’s HBO later on in ’80 or ’81 and falling in love with it all over again

-And I love TMP to this day… so much so, I’m getting a TMP mug for my desk at work through eBay this week. STAR WARS, of course, was the granddaddy of my sci-fi childhood, but the STAR TREK re-runs, cartoon show and TMP film was a close second.

P.S. –

Having said all that, I still think the wormhole sequence is laughably bad!