Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Above: One was rumored to play Captain Kirk, the other WAS Captain Kirk: Richard Burton and William Shatner.

Below is a 12 minute trailer and a preview of selected scenes from STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, which opened 31 years ago today. The extended trailer was put together to show to the National Association of Theatre Owners to placate nerves and make sure that STTMP was booked for its opening.

It's an unusual look at a movie. There is no finished music, the sound still had to go through post production, and there are a handful of effects. That's because the music and the effects for the V'Ger cloud were still to come. The whole movie was in a rush, with rumors of the prints still dripping wet when they arrived in movie theatres. There were also concerns that it wasn't such a good movie, and Paramount was very squeamish about a TV show cast being able to draw people to buy tickets for its expensive 1979 Christmas release. Paramount was so squeamish that there were rumors in preproduction that the cast would be replaced my "real" stars, and that Captain Kirk would be played by Richard Burton. The fans who sent those "Save STAR TREK" letters then began a "Save the STAR TREK Cast" drive.

Back to the video. What you do have here is entire scenes, with the "wrong music;" a temp track whose source I do not know -- but would love to find out. My guess is that it was tracked with some of Jerry Goldsmith's music from another feature. But that's, like I said, just a guess. At the end of the video, you do get to hear just a few seconds of the STTMP "march," the new theme which Roddenberry was so fond of he used it for the NEXT GENERATION series.


Mike said...

I remember taking my boys to this. One of them is probably too young to remember it.

That aside, it's an interesting document of the times. This was the era when "blind bidding" had begun to take over the movie industry and theater owners began to lose the option of seeing a film before booking it. Instead, they'd be told the genre, the stars, the director and so forth and would have to be in or out.

I was at a wedding and ran into a fellow who worked for Buena Vista, and casually asked him about "blind bidding." He immediately got very defensive and asked, "Why? Are you writing about it? Why are you asking me that?" Hint to those dealing with media: Don't make us curious. I immediately started work on a story.

Of course, in those days, theaters were owned by people. Today, I'm sure they're all booked by someone at corporate HQ.

Brian Fies said...

As a sales piece meant to intice you into booking the movie, that's pretty weak sauce. Especially if you're a theater-chain owner who didn't particularly care about Star Trek, which you'd have to assume was most of them, I don't know if that'd change any minds. And I wish they'd called up 19-year-old me and let me take a crack at rewriting that narration (the Enterprise "intergalactic?" Not on my watch...). As Mike says, though, an interesting document of the times, thanks for the post.

Mike Lynch said...

Thanks, Mike, for that great take on the bidding process!

Brian, I laughed out loud at you wanting to rewrite the narration!

As for me --

I was hundreds of miles away from home in December 1979. I was in Colorado, visiting my cousins. I saw this in the movie theatre with my sister and little cousin Nikki.

It was a long time ago and it's hard to express what it felt like. This was a rare gift: NEW TREK. And more, the fans has helped bring it about. It was a miracle.

I hoped it wouldn't suck.

The "Ilia's Theme" fanfare was played with the theatre curtain drawn shut. I thought something had gone horribly wrong, but only later did I read that that was the way Paramount wanted it: some calming music to soothe the fevered fans before the film really started. Of course, the corporate decision rankled me, having the opposite effect. I was anxious that the projector's lightbulb had busted.

I remember looking at Shatner peering out of the shuttle window and thinking how old he looked.

Oh, and the chills I felt watching the opening 360 degree panning shot of the trio of Klingon ships. I still love that shot.

I was obsessing over stuff like the transporter effects, the Enterprise nacelles and the bridge sound design: why oh why did they have to be different? Grr! I didn't like them being different. And that's why "You know engineers. They love to change things" was such a great line. Of course, over time ,the movies became comfortable with their TV origins and the bridge sound effects returned.

I could go on and on.

Alright, 2 more things:

Back then, STAR TREK was a kinda private fun thing to talk about between me and my friends. When I saw "The Human Adventure is Just Beginning," I sure hoped that Paramount and Roddenberry weren't teasing us.

It's weird now to see how it's become woven into everyday life. For instance, my Google spell check KNOWS the right and wrong ways to spell "Roddenberry."

Johnny Techman said...

I just wished they included this trailer on the Special Edition DVD. I'm sure they could have squeezed it in. Perhaps on a Special Edition Blu-Ray Disc?