In the Fall of 1996, Star Trek: Voyager was in its third season on television and Deep Space Nine was in its fifth. And on November 22nd, The Next Generation crew returned to the big big screen with Star Trek: First Contact, which was the biggest commercial and critical success of the TNG-era feature films. Today we celebrate the 25th anniversary of First Contact by looking back at some interviews conducted for the release. There are also a couple of new interviews with co-writer Ron Moore about the movie, and we have news on a brand-new book all about First Contact.
First Contact Junket interviews
Veteran NBC entertainment reporter Bobbie Wygant recently posted full unedited videos from her 1996 First Contact junket interviews with producer Rick Berman, director/star Jonathan Frakes, and members of the cast.
Siskel & Ebert gave it two thumbs up
Movie reviewer all-stars Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert review First Contact. Ebert called it “one of the best in the series” and lauded the effects and performances. Siskel called it “the best in the series,” which he noted had been “uneven,” adding that “everything looked sharper, including Patrick Stewart.”
Ron Moore talks Borg Queen debate, cutting jokes, and almost being replaced
First Contact co-writer Ron Moore did a couple of new interviews for the anniversary of the film. He spoke to Syfy about the Borg Queen, acknowledging that an individual was “antithetical” to how the Borg collective had previously been presented, which created a lot of debate between himself and co-writer Brannon Braga and producer Rick Berman:
[A]s soon as you bring the Queen into it, that voice became an individual and it brought up significant, in-world story questions. So we really went back and forth about it internally; the three of us argued it every which way.
He also clarified what she was the queen of:
So what we came up with was, there this idea of a Borg Queen that controlled at least this collective of that particular ship, not necessarily that she was the queen of the whole Borg. We wrestled with it for quite awhile before deciding to do it.
Moore also talked about some of the things he wished weren’t cut from the final version:
There was just more action in general, more fighting the Borg in the corridors, and going into different places on the ship. And I think there was more humor. A lot of the jokes got cut down. I think we had more fun with Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Cochran’s relationship on Earth, where he gets her drunk. We had more to that sequence scripted and that was fun to write, too. Rick might have made us cut it because he was always a little too—he was always kind of worried that maybe the humor would be too corny or something.
The writer also spoke to The Hollywood Reporter, where he dismissed the idea that Tom Hanks was ever in serious contention to play Zefram Cochrane, saying “…it was never really on the table.” He also revealed that at one point, Patrick Stewart got Rick Berman to bring in a different writer to rewrite some scenes, but eventually those scenes “were thrown out.” Later this incident created a bit of tension on set when the writers sat down with Stewart, as recalled by Moore:
I remember Patrick at the outset just said something like: ‘It’s good to see you. I hope that we can all move on from the things that have happened, and now let’s just concentrate on the work.’ And I took that in the spirit it was given: [He] wants to move on from this, he’s not going to apologize outright, but he kind of is apologizing. And it was never spoken of again. So we just moved on.
New First Contact book
Titan Books is releasing a new book celebrating the movie. Star Trek: First Contact The Making of the Classic Film by Joe Fordham promises rare and previously unseen production art as well as new interviews with the cast and crew. The book, “filled to the brim of archival material, behind-the-scenes photography, concept art, production designs, and much more,” will arrive on April 5, 2022, just in time for First Contact Day. The hardcover coffee table book retails for $50 and can be pre-ordered now at Amazon. The Kindle/ebook can be pre-ordered for $15.39.
First Contact virtual panel tonight
To celebrate the 25th anniversary Larry “Dr. Trek” Nemecek is hosting a Zoom tonight at 6PM PT/9PM ET.
So days ago longtime Trek illustrator John Eaves rounded up some friends and asked me to herd them, as a free, one-hour online panel/reunion:
With Trek video supervisor Ben Betts, ILM model supervisor John Goodson, and Trek art department superstars Doug Drexler, Mike Okuda, Denise Okuda and Jim Van Over. PLUS ILM vet David Blass, now Picard‘s production designer over Season 2 & 3.
Check out the full details over on Trekland
— Larry Nemecek (@larrynemecek) November 22, 2021
VES Celebrated First Contact
Last night, the Visual Effects Society held a screening along with a Q& following the film, which included producer Rick Berman, director/star Jonathan Frakes, VFX supervisor Dan Curry, production designer Herman Zimmerman, and visual effects artist John Knoll and makeup artist Todd Masters.
In the audience was Star Trek: Picard production designer David Blass, who talked about how the film still holds up as a masterpiece.
Cast and Crew screening of the 25th Anniversary of @StarTrek #FirstContact with a panel of the filmmakers. What an amazing night. Congratulation @jonathansfrakes on a fabulous film that hold up as a masterpiece 25 years later pic.twitter.com/RolJTCY182
— Dave Blass (@DaveBlass) November 22, 2021
First Contact still part of new Trek
25 years on and First Contact is still resonating with the new Star Trek shows. In October the Star Trek: Lower Decks episode “I, Excretus” featured a storyline involving the Borg, which featured the Borg Queen and the return of Alice Krige to voice the character.
The Borg Queen is also returning in the second season of Star Trek: Picard, which debuts in February 2022. The Queen will be played by Annie Wersching, and we have already seen glimpses of her in trailers.
Find more Star Trek history at TrekMovie.com.