Eight years ago saw the release of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. There were some early screenings, but the official release date was May 8th, 2009. The 11th film in the franchise came six years and five months after Star Trek: Nemesis. After that film didn’t meet expectations the franchise sat dormant until Paramount decided to bring back Star Trek with a new team behind the camera led by producer/director J.J. Abrams. The studio also decided to go big with Trek, giving it summer release date and a $150 million dollar budget. They even ran a Superbowl commercial for it, which emphasized the action-packed nature of the film.
A new timeline
In another potentially risky move, Abrams and his team (including producer Damon Lindelof and writer/exec. producers Roberto Orci, and Alex Kurtzman) decided to ‘re-imagine’ the franchise by recasting the original Star Trek series crew with mostly lesser known young actors. They also chose to both preserve the Star Trek universe and to reboot it at the same time by creating a new timeline by using some old-fashioned time-travel. This was done by giving Leonard Nimoy a major part in the film to reprise his original role as Spock to tie together the past and hand it off to the future.
The result was a film that broke into box office top 10 for the year and even after inflation is still the top performer for the franchise domestically. With worldwide sales it pulled in $385 million, second behind the follow-up film Star Trek Into Darkness. The 2009 film also had widespread critical acclaim, landing it on many critics top 10 lists for the year. It was nominated for four Academy Awards and is still the only film in the franchise to win an Oscar, for Best Makeup.
Fans (mostly) on board too
Of course Star Trek fans can’t all agree on anything, with multiple TV series and movies and more over a span of five decades. However in general the 2009 Star Trek film was well received by the fan base. Even critics of the film can often find something to praise, whether its Karl Urban’s performance as Dr. McCoy, Michael Giacchino’s soundtrack, ILM’s special effects, or some other aspect of the production.
A revived franchise
And of course the movie brought in many new fans into the franchise. The last eight years have seen interest in Star Trek grow. There has been more merchandising, more books and comics, more games, and pretty much more of everything, including two feature film sequels (2013’s Star Trek: Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond in 2016).
It cannot be known what the last eight years would have been like if that 2009 movie had not been a success, but it is reasonable to assume J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek had a big role in re-awakening the popularity and inspiring new interest this franchise we all love.
The future has begun
We now await the next step for Star Trek on the big screen, and hopefully we won’t have to wait six years for Paramount to make another Star Trek movie.
Thanks to the resurgence of interest in all things Trek, started by the release of Star Trek (2009) and continuing on through the 50th anniversary in 2016, CBS has made a large investment to return to the franchise to its natural home, on television, with the CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery currently in production.
Sound off on Star Trek 2009
What are your thought on the 2009 Star Trek with eight year’s time to reflect? Have your views changed? What effect do you think it had on the franchise as a whole? Discuss in in the comments below.