Star Trek: The Motion Picture: 40th Anniversary Showings

Fathom Events and Paramount Pictures have scheduled 40th anniversary showings of Star Trek: The Motion Picture on September 15 and 18.


Photo: Star Trek Beyond, released in July 2019

It’s the first nationwide cinema release since the film premiered in December of 1979.

The presentation will also feature the behind-the-scenes documentary short “The Longest Trek: Writing the Motion Picture.”

Robert Wise directed “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” which became the fourth highest grossing film of the year and earned Academy Award nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction, and Best Music, Original Score.

It starred William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and James Doohan.

Some background context is necessary:

The first Star Trek movie was based on the TV series Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry, and stars the its cast.

The story centers on a mysterious powerful alien cloud known as V’Ger, which approaches Earth and destroys everything in its path. Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) assumes command of the refitted Starship USS Enterprise, to lead it on a mission to save the planet.

When the original TV series was canceled in 1969, Roddenberry asked Paramount to continue the franchise through a feature. The series’ success in syndication convinced the studio to go ahead.

After several writers triedto craft a suitabe script, Paramount scrapped the project. The studio instead planned on returning the franchise to its roots, with a new TV series titled Star Trek: Phase II.

The box office successes of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, both in 1977, however, convinced Paramount that sci-fi pictures could still do well, so the studio resumed its attempts at making big-screen epic.

In 1978, Paramount announced that vet director Robert Wise (The Sound of Music) would helm the $15 million film adaptation. The planned pilot episode, “In Thy Image,” was adpated into a script.

Costume designer Robert Fletcher and production designer Harold Michelson made new costume and sets, Jerry Goldsmith composed the score. Effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull was hired.

Released on December 7, 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture received mixed to negative reviews. Many critics complained about the lack of action scenes and heavy reliance on special effects.

The budgets escalated to $46 million, and when the movie earned $139 million globally, it was declared a very moderate performance.

As a result, Roddenberry was forced out of creative control for the sequel, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which opened in 1982.