After visiting London, Cologne and Madrid (see TrekMovie’s reports from the UK, Germany and Spain), Star Trek director JJ Abrams took his Star Trek EuroTour08 to France and Italy, two more countries where Paramount has work to do building an audience for this re-invigoration of the franchise. TrekMovie has another exclusive first hand report from Paris and a summary of some of the media reports out of Italy.
REPORT ON JJ ABRAMS STAR TREK PRESENTATION IN PARIS
By Frank Mikanowski, Jean-Regis de Vanssay & Eric Saussine
For some background, France has long been the Paramount’s black sheep regarding Star Trek, Brent Spiner once stated that he would start worrying if he were popular in France! The Original Series first aired in the early 1980s and the bright colored vision of Trek was already a thing of the past. The show was thus defined by the terms “kitsch” and “pointy ears” and has never been taken seriously. The TOS films did poorly in France, but things changed a little when The Next Generation started to air on cable, where it did grow a bit of an audience. More recently the DVDs have performed pretty well, but Star Trek is still not as big in France as it is elsewhere.
The big movie theater of the Gaumont Champs Elysées was almost full, but few were Trek fans. The event organized by Paramount was to preview and promote three films (Monsters vs Aliens, Watchmen, and Star Trek) and Watchmen was probably the biggest draw for the assembled press and film industry people. When J.J. Abrams came up to introduce the Star Trek footage, he told the crowd how happy be doing this in Paris, a city where he lived for a year. He acknowledged that he was not the biggest Star Trek fan and asked for the people present in the theater to raise their hands if they were not Star Trek fans. He told the crowd that he agreed to direct the film, not to do a big special effects blockbuster, but because he loved the story of these characters, and particularly wanted to to tell their origin story.
Detailed descriptions of the trailer and four scenes being shown have been reported before and don’t need to be repeated, however the big question is, can this trailer and film bring in a new generation of French viewers? I think the answer is a definite YES. The four extracts, undoubtedly carefully chosen by J.J Abrams and Paramount, certainly convinced me. Maybe, J.J Abrams did not make this film for Star Trek fans, but they will find many reasons to be excited in it. But the will not need to read a Trek Encyclopedia to enjoy it.
There was no doubt that we were really facing Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov and Scotty. Thumbs up for the cast and the direction of J.J Abrams. At any time it did not feel like an imitation of the original actors. It is also necessary to point the quality of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman’s script for this respect regarding this four scenes. Moreover these reveal that all the supporting cast will not remain in the shadow of the triumvirate and they will have a substantive part in the story.
Regarding the ships J.J Abrams did not give us much to cut our teeth on with the exception of a shuttle. The Enterprise interior is certainly not as austere as the original but still has the cleanliness of old with a prevailing white bluish lighting. Regarding the costumes, it may be more of a problem. I don’t have trouble watching the uniforms of the original series, but will it be the same for the general audience?
Trek’s French future?
So far media report from this event are very positive and should help begin to build the buzz here in France. For example, the reporter for TF1, the most-watched French channel, said of the film:
Those who always considered that these spacemen in pajamas were kistch and too pointy-eared will find this movie closer to Star Wars. On the other side, the fans will not be disappointed
So has Star Trek got out of the ghetto in France? One thing is certain. If Paramount had no hope to reverse the trend J.J. Abrams would have never come to France. The success of the DVDs and the whole reboot agenda of the new film shows that Paramount is trying to start again from scratch in our country. The six months which separates us from the release of Star Trek in the French theaters will seem quite a long stretch!
Frank Mikanowski, Jean-Regis de Vanssay & Eric Saussine are the treasurer, president and vice-president respectively of Unification France, one of France’s leading Star Trek and sci-fi fan clubs
MEDIA REPORTS FROM JJ ABRAMS IN ITALY
Italy is another country where Star Trek has not played well. For example, even though they have similarly sized populations, Star Trek Nemesis did less than half a million dollars in Italy and $7.6 Million in the UK.
Unfortunately TrekMovie did not have a correspondent inside for the Rome stop on the JJ tour, however the AP reported from the event. They note again how Abrams told the crowd that he wasn’t a fan until he made the film, but he says he is now ‘a Trekker’ and he has "fallen in love with the characters," going on to say:
My goal was to make a movie about the emotional lives of these characters. We’ve seen a million ships fly by the camera, but nobody is going to care about the ship if they don’t care about the people inside.
JJ’s event also got a lot of attention in the local media, spawning over a dozen reports.
More: TrekMovie’s exclusive full coverage of the Abrams Euro Tour:
Hey JJ! Do an event in the U.S. You know, where people like Trek!
Way to go, JJ!
Paramount is certainly trying to sell ‘Trek’ and other 2009 movies from them early on. Interesting formula sending JJ and footage to all these countries 6 months out from the release. Hope they build up good hype AND deliver.
Closer to Star Wars. Hmmm. I like my peanut butter and my chocolate separate.
I have never seen a Trek movie treated as such a valuable property. I think after TWOK or TSFS that Paramount just gave up trying to break foreign markets. To me, this really does re-emphasize the fact that Paramount feel this film is worth the effort, contrary to the rampant paranoia that they moved the movie due to a lack of faith. Sorry guys, you don’t push your movie into the competitive summer marketplace and fly your crew to every corner of the earth to promote it if you think it’s a flop.
U.S. grosses matter more than Worldwide.
I went to see Quantum of Solace last night, but unfortunately no trailer was attached. I’ve just watched a bootlegged copy though (sorry JJ), and I was totally blown away! This looks like it’s going to be incredible. And the Enterprise looks kick ***.
STAR TREK (FRANCE)
STARRING JERRY LEWIS AS CAPTAIN KIRK
AND JEAN RENO AS MR. SPOCK
Spock (lights a Gauloise): “Well, mon ami…zis is the end, eh?”
Kirk: “Are you kidding?! ” Crosses his eyes. “Whoopie!”
Spock: (lights another Gauloise): “Well it eez for me. I shall never see zis place again.”
Kirk puts on a clown nose.
Spock: (lights another Gauloise): “Ze needs of ze many, my friend, well you know ze story…” (lights another Gauloise).
Kirk takes out a bicycle horn and lets it off in Spock’s ear. Honk Honk!
It is amazing to me that Paramount is investing in this European road trip to promote this movie, especially ahead of the crowded Christmas 2008 movie season.
Nice to see Star Trek treated this way by its distributor.
Come on, if you’re thinking that the US is the only Trekbase in the world than you’re a martian! Star Trek has a long tv tradition even in europe especially Germany which you would know if you had ever been here!
The Frenchmen hit it on the head. It’s Star Wars for a new generation.
I think Paramount is acutely aware of what happened with the botched Star Wars films of the last few years and they see an opening. There is definitely a hunger for this stuff out there, but beyond comic book films, there hasn’t been a lot of successful sci-fi in the last decade.
This isn’t just a reboot for Trek, it’s a reboot for an entire genre.
Jeez, I’m epic.
Hey if you need some fans from the U.S. To attend in Califonia let me know I’ll be there!!!
Absolutely! In fact, the first time I went to England, in 1997, I walked into the house we were staying, and what was playing on the TV? DS9!!
Oh, and Enterprise…
If you think that European money matters less than American money, not only are you living on another planet, but you haven’t been paying much attention to exchange rates lately! :)
I would think the U.K. and U.S. would be the biggest Trek fanbases since most of these other countries are still airing TNG.
You’re probably right, plus the language factor. And actually, Germany tends to have a closer cultural relationship to the US than most European countries (except perhaps the UK). E.g. The NFL Europe had retreated entirely to Germany before it folded.
As far as “since most of these other countries are still airing TNG” … I don’t think those other countries are in first-run TNG. And Spike airs more TNG than any other Trek at this point.
The trailer doesn’t really bug me (as long as Big E isn’t being built in Iowa).
But the reports of the clips are disturbing. Kirk and Pike, booby jokes? Oh no!
I’d like to see these clips for myself. Do non of these Europeans know how to smuggle a video camera into a movie theatere?
15. Enterprise – November 15, 2008
“I would think the U.K. and U.S. would be the biggest Trek fanbases since most of these other countries are still airing TNG.”
Ummm.. Actually, one of the biggest Trek fanbases is here in Canada.
As reported here before, Trek has good sized fanbases in the english speaking world (US, Canada, UK, Australia, NZ). Outside of that, the only country where it has really been very popular is Germany (and maybe Brazil). Sure there are fans and fanclubs everywhere, but nothing like it is elsewhere. Trek films have generally performed poorly overseas in relation to the North American box office. That is the point of JJ’s little tour around Europe. I hope he also does one in Asia as that is also a weak spot.
Many films make more overseas than they do in the US, like Harry Potter, Bond, Mission Impossible and the recent Star Wars films. The big comic book movies at least get close to parity. For this new Trek relaunch to work, it needs to do at least that. Which means building buzz in these markets which tend to dismiss trek
Bond was filmed and created in the U,K, though. It’s not U.S. based. Harry Potter was also filmed in the U,K.
19. montreal paul
Yeah, but does Canada REALLY count? I mean, come on. :)
Well, Canada does have a better Sci Fi cable station than the U.S. does.
Studios generally ignore overseas grosses, except in the case of worldwide phenomena like Harry Potter and James Bond. Those films actually do better overseas. But for Trek, Paramount will probably ignore foreign BO, even though they seem to be trying.
The reason this happens is because studios can lose up 50% in distribution fees in foreign countries. And considering most movies do better in the U.S. than in foreign markets, studios usually don’t consider foreign gross nearly as much as domestic.
hey JJ,what about Canada,Vulcan,hen
what about here,Montreal,the city where Bill Shatner was born man
i think its good that trek is being promoted overseas … if it was all about America it wouldn’t be true trek
The SPACE network aits more Trek per week than anywhere else in the world.. or so their website says.
And yes, William Shatner is from Montreal.. James Doohan and Christopher Plummer are Canadian as well.
I am glad that JJ is doing this little tour to get other countries to get into Trek.. and I am sure that he will. They are really taking a great approach to Trek this time around. In order to keep this franchise alive, they are going to have to bring in some major ticket sales around the world.. especially with how weak the US dollar is compared to other currencies.
JJ where the hell is my damn brie you promised to bring back for me????
Join the revolution swarming Trek across the web:
BRING BACK BRIE
Having worked in a movie theater for more year then I can count, US film companies make films for US audiences. US boxoffice grosses determine whether or not a film gets a sequel. Bond films are made in the UK and other locations around the world but again… their target audience is primarily the US audience.
If the films don’t perform in the US, they don’t get the consideration neccessary for a sequel.
Most other countries with film production facilities produce films for their region and if they manage to make it elsewhere in the world, its all good.
In the case of Bond, what you said is not true. Sony tried for years to start their own Bond franchise, and Bond was a big part of the purchase of MGM. The reason is because how worldwide Bond is. And Sony is a bit different from the other movie studios because of its worldwide business model.
Foreign B.O. becomes more and more important, primarily because of DVD sales. The push for Trek overseas is probably more about JJ Abrams than Trek. He’s Hollywood’s latest golden boy and Paramount wants to capitalize in that with its (arguably) biggest franchise.
you can have your own opinion, but not your own facts.
Paramount are very much paying attention to growing the Trek market overseas. All their recent summer Tentpoles have done big money overseas (Transformers, Indy 4, Iron Man).
Studios do make more domestically as a percentage, but that doesn’t mean overseas is seen as some little extra thing anymore, those days are long long gone, especially with the tent poles like Trek
The days of domestic only success are over. We’re a worldwide market now. You have to perform respectably overseas as well as in the US.
31. Anthony Pascale
I agree, foreign B.O. is becoming more and more important, but domestic is still the focus of studios. I’m not making up how much money studios lose in foreign distribution rights (unless there has been a change in the last year or so.).
If it’s not that, I don’t know what facts you think I’m making up. I mean, obviously Paramount is paying more attention overseas. That still doesn’t mean that domestic isn’t more important. Overseas markets are big problems for studios due to piracy, which has a tendency to spread to the U.S. But studios are also making more money in DVD sales overseas than in theaters. That’s because the distribution of DVDs is much more profitable for the studios.
Look, I didn’t really post to get in an argument about box office. I was trying to answer a question on a topic I have some knowledge about. Like I said, there are some films that do great, and even better, worldwide, than domestically. And that’s becoming more and more true. It’s also true that DVD sales are becoming more important than theatrical releases, hence why Batman and Hellboy got such a big push for their sequels.
And sorry if I made it sound like a slight on JJ Abrams in my last post. I didn’t mean it that way. He IS Hollywood’s latest golden boy and Paramount is lucky to have a big name like him involved. And that’s a fact.
Here in Brazil, people love TOS.
We have fans for TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise – but the original Star Trek is the most celebrated.
Hey, JJ, and Latin America? There’s life in here!
Just can’t get enough Abrams news.
What is the French market for general science fiction like? Is there a big demand for SF in that nation?
In the English-speaking world, the most notable science fiction writers have been, of course, Jules Verne, and also Gerard Klein.
In terms of films, only Godard’s nouvelle vague masterpiece, “Alphaville” and Bresson’s “Fifth Element” are famous.
Are there other French books or science fiction films that English speakers would enjoy? What are some popular, good quality ones?
Merci. Au revoir.
Some great articles about Star Trek whilst you wait for more news on the film:
startrekdom.blogspot.com/search/label/History of Trek
This is all a lot of fuss over nothing. Star Trek represents more nationalities in their main characters than any other show, I think (unless you count the Village People :) ).
Anyways, we (Trek Nation) will all go see it, good, bad or indifferent. In the end, it will be global domination. We will assimilate those who aren’t hard core Trekkers.
If they don’t know, they better get somebody to tell them about us!!! HOLLA!!
Full Star Trek articles that I have found – these are EXCELLENT READING FOR EVERYONE:
I’ve no doubt that what Abrams is saying about not having been a big Trek fan is true.
That said, it is also a shrewd marketing tactic. He’s going before audiences, day after day, in European countries where Trek has never been particularly successful, and saying “I never was a big fan of this, but…”
He’s inviting the possibly skeptical, disinterested, or at best mildly curious to identify with him and to follow the storyline of his growing enthusiasm for this…weird cult thing that’s been hovering in the background for so many years.
I like to listen to a Star Trek podcast from the UK called “Make It So”. The Brits do love their Trek, but so much the TOS. They are all about TNG.
PLEASE LATIN AMERICA HAS A BIG MARKET FOR THIS!!!
>1. Enterprise – November 15, 2008
> Hey JJ! Do an event in the U.S. You know, where people like Trek!
I’m with you dude. Abrams it’s great that you’re promoting the film overseas, but uh could you throw us a special screening sometime? I mean we were after all the first fans and we still are diehards who are going to see it, but I mean it feels like you don’t really care about us. I’m sure you want to revive the series, but I’m a little nervous. After Fringe and you comments about it not being a film for us, but people who like movies, I feel like you’re stabbing us in the back. I hope I’m wrong and that maybe we’re just seeing it from one prospective, but please remember the people who are truly excited for this film
To Mr. Bailey, #40.
I totally agree that J.J. is being honest about not being a Trek fan in the past and that it is a great marketing move, hopefully it brings new fans to the franchise and helps bring Trek ‘back to life’….BUT….
….I can’t help but feel like I’m being kicked in the stomach every time I read that. I understand what he and his team are trying to do, but at the same time he might as well be saying ‘The last 40 years of this francise sucked, but what I’m doing is going to make it GOLD!’ I realize that statement is more than a bit extreme, but the whenever I see “I never was a big fan of this” I get a little more skeptical and disinterested…..and I consider myself a loyal Trek fan to the bitter end!
Would you want a vegetarian cooking your steak? Boy George editing Playboy? Mel Gibson planning your Bar Mitzvah? Brett Ratner directing an X-Men movie? (oh wait, that happened already, goo!)
I’m not trying to be a pessimist or undermine what J.J. and his team are doing because I don’t believe they are trying to turn anyone off. I honestly just needed to vent my frustration and add my name to the list of ‘worried’ but loyal Trekkers. If he can’t make us happy then the future of the franchise looks very, very, very grim. New fans are great, but the old fans are the bread & butter.
He’s probably promoting the film overseas because they now doubt how it will be received in the US, where Trek was born.
There was a time when Trek fans were OK with the idea that Trek was different than Star Wars. Back in the day we had two types of “space” franchises and Trek was always considered the more “cerebral” one. There may be different feelings about what that meant to each of us but the fact remains. Making Trek more like Star Wars, or “bringing Trek to a new generation” means it’s really less like we remember it (and I’m not just thinking art direction changes).
After seeing the trailer online, I really don’t see anything in the trailer that is speaking to me (a 43 year old fan). I’m also not in the mood to go through another set re-imaging. Change for change sake is not something that has ever set well.
At this point, seriously, the only thing that will get me to the theater is a whole bus load of fans my age saying I need to go because the last scene makes it all worth while (timeline restored with crew on a more familiar bridge in a ship that looks much closer to the original).
You know, it also upsets me when I hear that “the future of the franchise is at stake”. There are a bunch of Trek fans out in the world right now without JJ’s movie. And there is plenty of money to be made.
I would have went to see a Speed Racer movie many many times if they had only gotten it “right.” Same with Superman Returns. These movies have built-in fans…all they have to do is stay true to the characters. I think that takes someone in charge that is truly the right kind of fan. Like Favreau with Iron Man and most likely, Joe Johnston with Captain America.
If this movie is just action and explosions in space (Star Wars), the new generation isn’t going to get from Trek the same mind-expanding stories we grew up with.
Trek will be fine no matter what happens with this movie. We still have all the old memories.
Curious to know that the situation with Star Trek in our neighbours’ country is so simmilar.
Maybe we should join strengths in some manner.
@ Kerr Avon:
Since i’m franch, i’ll try to answer your questions.
First of all, French are not that all into Sci fi. Sci-fi isn’t appealing to french people. To tell you the truth, i don’t really know why. But honestly, i try to avoid to tell that i’m a Star trek fan as much as possible because after that, i’m not taken seriously. People think it is totally silly and immature. In other words, they can’t picture Sci Fi as something serious. But for Star Trek, it’s actually much worse.
Star Wars is, as far as i know, one of a few exceptions.
The irony here is that we have lots of writers who did excellent sci-fi books back in the 70’s. That was the golden age for france’s sci-fi.
Still, we’ve been witnessing for a few years now a renewd interest in Sci – Fi. Here, we don’t exactly have comics the way you see them, but we have something close enought called BD ( it stands for bandes dessinées …). Anyways, some of those BD are sci fi stories, and those are pretty good, and since it’s been several years now since those new stories were launched, i can assume that there are people here who enjoye them.
Thanks for answering, Mav. I really appreciate it. It is interesting to learn how science fiction is regarded in non-English speaking cultures.
Do you know if “Blake’s 7” has ever been televised in France? I wonder if your people would like that show – it is the opposite of Star Trek, very dark and pessimistic about the future. It is known as the British “Anti-Trek” by some people.
@ Kerr Avon:
Truth be told, i no longer watch Tv over here so i’m not sure i’m the best suited to answer you. Anyways, i know that BSG ( the new one) is appreciated here, but it’ll never be broadcast on public TV. It’s not appealing enought for my fellow countrymen :(. The last Sci Fi show that have been broadcasted over here on a public channel were Stargate SG 1 and Atlantis. You can add Smallville if you consider it as Sci Fi.
As far as i know, “Blake’s 7” was not broadcasted in France, but thent again, i can’t be sure. I can tell you that Star Trek TOS was aired on the biggest public channel at the time. Cosmos 1999 was also aired on a public channel.
Some channels are broadcasting Sci Fi shows, but you have to pay for it therefore, few people are actually following thos shows. But i’m sure that all trek series where aired in France at some point.