This is the second of our series of looking back to past Trek films and seeing what they can teach us about how to make Trek work again on the big screen. In the wake of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (TMP), which did solid business but was very expensive, Trek’s future remained uncertain. At one point there was even a rumor (reported in the New York Times) that Trek would return to the small screen with a new series involving all the leads. In the end Paramount decided to keep going with feature films, but make some big personnel changes. They bought out Roddenberry’s remaining interest in the Trek property, and handed the reins over to veteran TV producer Harve Bennett (best known for producing The Mod Squad, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman). Bennett tells the story about how Gulf+Western CEO Charles Bluhdorn gave him marching orders “to make a movie that isn’t boring for less than 45 f—ing million dollars.” Coming from the low budget world of TV, Bennett assured Bluhdorn he could make 3 movies for that amount, and he just about did. Bennett then set off to learn everything about Trek and got to work on what would be the first of a trilogy of successful Trek films.
Articles by J.L. Garner
For weeks without TOS-R episodes to review, TrekMovie.com will instead review a Trek film to see where it went right and where it went wrong, and what Trek XI can learn from it. The year: 1979. Ten years had passed since NBC cancelled “Star Trek” and in that time it had become a hit in syndicated reruns. A growing fan base began holding conventions and were continually teased with the posibility of a return of their heroes from the 23rd century. After a short lived animated series in the early 70s, Paramount Paramount greenlit a low-budget “Trek” film entitled “Planet of the Titans.” About two weeks before “Star Wars” exploded onto American movie screens in May 1977, Paramount pulled the plug and then a few months later committed to bringing back “Star Trek” as a TV show. “Star Trek II” (which would have included all the original stars except for Leonard Nimoy) would be the cornerstone of a new ‘Paramount Network’. No sooner did Paramount move on that project then they did a complete about-face, killing the new network, canceling “Phase II,” and transforming its two-hour pilot script “In Thy Image” into a big-budget motion picture. The script was heavily rewritten, Nimoy came back to the fold, and legendary Oscar-winning director Robert Wise took the helm. And the rest, as they say, is history.