The topic of this ‘Trek4Kids’ entry is how Paramount is marketing their new Star Trek movie to kids, something pretty important if they want to create a ‘next generation’ of fans. I am already a fan and was already excited about the movie, so I invited some of my sixth grade friends over to view some of the trailers and merchandise and also did a little survey at school, all to find out if other kids are getting excited too.
My little focus group
Here is a brief introduction to the four friends I invited. Kyle is interested in science fiction series such as Star Wars and I wanted him to see a different side of science fiction. Luke is a kid who likes to build things with Legos and I wanted to show him Star Trek because I thought he would like the starships. Ethan is interested in sports and is good at school, and Kamalei is interested in football. In this group, we had a mix of Caucasian, Japanese, and Hawaiian kids (I live in Hawaii). My dad and I showed them the second trailer for the movie, the Super Bowl ad, the Star Trek Countdown comic book, the Playmates action figures and playsets, the away gear, the Halloween costumes, the Quog animations, and the Quog merchandise.
Before we began, we asked if they had ever heard of Star Trek or had any prior contact with it. All four had heard of it in one way or another. Kyle said, “It’s an old show, that’s what I know,” Kamalei said he had seen it before on occasion, and Luke said that he had not really seen it but he knew about “the guy with the pointy ears”. We also asked what movies they were looking forward to this summer. Kyle, Luke, and Ethan did not really know what movies were coming out yet, but Kamalei knew there was a new Star Trek movie planned. Then Luke said, “Oh yeah.”
Everyone watched Trailer 2 silently and they were obviously interested in it because they paid close attention to it. When Luke saw the Bad Robot logo, he recognized it and said he was a fan of Alias. At first, Kyle and Ethan did not remember having seen the trailer before but Kyle recalled it when Kirk said, “My name is James Tiberius Kirk”. When my dad mentioned that the trailer was shown at Quantum of Solace, Kyle said, “That movie was awesome.” Ethan recognized the trailer when the Enterprise went to warp, and said, “I think I saw this preview before.” Next we showed them the "Big Game" TV Spot and by this time, all of them remembered having seen the preview during the Super Bowl. When asked if Star Trek was a cool movie or if they would want to see it in the theaters, Kyle said “Cool. Yeah,” Kamalei said, “Pretty good. Yeah, I guess so,” Ethan and Luke nodded, and Luke said he would probably want to see the movie. [Editor’s note: this group was held before the release of the new ‘Trailer 3’]
First theatrical trailer played well with the kids
Next we showed them a picture of the cover and the first few pages of Star Trek Countdown, Number One, and they thought it was pretty interesting. When asked if they would read it, Kyle said, “Probably…if I was bored.” And Kamalei said, “Yeah. I like comic books.” I told my friends that the movie deals with time travel, and they thought that was pretty cool. We also showed them pictures of the Playmates toys for the movie. Because Kyle collects action figures such as G.I. Joe, he thought the Star Trek action figures were pretty nice. They liked the electronic toy phaser best of all, and Kamalei liked the model of the movie Enterprise. They were less interested in the toy communicator and tricorder. They all nodded when asked if they liked the toys, and Ethan said, “The toys look interesting.” Kamalei said he would be interested in seeing posters and Luke would like to see Legos.
Next we went to GoAnimate.com to show them Star Trek QUAG animations. Kamalei said, “Oh wow” and “cool” when my dad said that you can create your own animations on the site. He also asked if Spock was bad, possibly because he saw the fight between Kirk and Spock in the trailer. Luke said, “Wait. Is this sort of like the movie, Galaxy Quest?” I said that Galaxy Quest is a spoof of Star Trek. Ethan was dancing to the song, “Highly Illogical” sung by Leonard Nimoy and even said, “Catchy.” During the animation, Kamalei asked if the crew goes to earth, and I answered, “Occasionally, but they are mostly exploring the great unknown”. In one animation they all laughed out loud when they saw Chekov (as the husband) shoot Uhura (as the wife)! When asked if they liked the Quog figures and watches, they said, “Yeah, a little.”
Sing along with Spock is fun
Kamalei said that the design of the movie website was cool and Kyle said that the picture of Nero reminded him of the evil Roman emperor. When he saw the picture of the Kelvin blowing up, Kamalei wondered if that was the ship with Spock and the rest of the crew. We told him that that was a different ship. And when he saw the picture of the Enterprise, Kamalei said, “That’s a really cool ship.” He had seen Heroes and recognized Sylar (played by Zachary Quinto), and was also interested in John Cho (Sulu) who he said looked familiar. My dad guessed correctly that it was from Harold & Kumar. Kamalei asked, “So does Kirk live on Earth?”, and when he was told Spock was the only alien on the ship, he said, “What about the guy who looks like a monster?” We did not know who he was talking about, but he probably meant an alien character, such as Worf, from one of the more recent series. When they were asked what they thought about everything they had seen, Ethan said that it was interesting, Kyle said, “50-50,” while Kamalei and Luke nodded.
Cho and Quinto are recognizable
After showing things to my friends, I also did an informal survey with six other sixth grade boys at school. Out of the group, only one had never even heard of Star Trek. When I asked if they knew that there is a new Star Trek movie coming out, only three knew about it, and only two said they were interested (and one maybe). Also only two out of six had seen anything related to the movie. Finally, I asked them, “What words do you think of when you think of Star Trek?” The answers were “cool”, “space”, and “gay”.
The show-and-tell with my friends and the survey at school shows that kids my age at least know what Star Trek is and when shown things from the movie they can get interested in it. But it seems there is still work to be done to get them to learn more about the movie. All in all, I think that most of the kids to whom we showed the trailers would want to see the movie in the theaters when it is released on May 8. When the movie premiere gets closer, I will try and update TrekMovie how things are going with my friends and classmates.
BONUS: What about little girls?
At first it was not the plan to plan to show the trailers to my little sister Holly and her friends, because seven and eight-year old girls are not the target audience of the movie. But Holly insisted, so we showed two of her friends the trailers as well. I was not surprised that Anneka (age 8) and Sage (age 7) had never heard of Star Trek, and the trailer did not spark their interest. Anneka said it would be cool to play with the action figures on the Bridge playset because if you get all of them you would have a set. They were not interested in the phaser or other prop models, but they thought the Uhura costume was pretty. Anneka liked the Quog animations and rated them 8-9 out of 10, but Sage had no interest. So even if they aren’t the audience, there is still some interest in this group.
Eleven year old James T. is the Youth Correspondent for TrekMovie.com. Check out the ‘Trek4Kids’ category for more of his articles. James and his family will be attending the premiere of the new Star Trek movie as special guests of Leonard Nimoy.