Star Trek (film series)
The Star Trek logo as it appears in the reboot films
|Directed by||See § Crew and other|
|Produced by||See § Crew and other|
|Written by||See § Crew and other|
by Gene Roddenberry
|Starring||See § Crew and other|
|Music by||See § Crew and other|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Budget||$720 million (all films)|
|Box office||$2.3 billion (all films)|
The Star Trek film series is the cinematic branch of the Star Trek media franchise, which began in 1966 as a weekly television series on NBC, running for three seasons until it was canceled in 1969 because of poor ratings. Reruns of the series proved to be wildly successful in syndication during the 1970s, which persuaded the series' then-owner, Paramount Pictures, to expand the franchise.
Paramount originally began work on a Star Trek feature film in 1975 after lobbying by the creator of the franchise, Gene Roddenberry. The studio scrapped the project two years later in favor of creating a television series, Star Trek: Phase II, with the original cast. However, following the huge success of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977, Paramount changed its mind again, halting production on the television series and adapting its pilot episode into a Star Trek feature film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). Five more Star Trek feature films featuring the entire original cast followed. The cast of the Star Trek sequel series Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) starred in a further four films. Upon the release of Star Trek: Nemesis on December 13, 2002, the film had grossed $67 million, a meager amount compared to the box office of previous installments. Due to the film's poor reception and box office disappointment, the series was put on a hiatus until the franchise was rebooted with a new film, directed by J. J. Abrams and released on May 8, 2009, simply titled Star Trek, serving as a reboot to the franchise with a new cast portraying younger versions of the original series' characters. A sequel to Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness, was released in theaters on May 16, 2013. A third film, Star Trek Beyond, was released on July 22, 2016, on the franchise's 50th anniversary.
The Star Trek films have received 15 Academy Award nominations. Star Trek (2009) won for Best Makeup in 2010, and four of the previous films were nominated mainly in the areas of makeup, music, set design and sound design.
The early Star Trek films, the first to tenth film, were originally released on VHS; competitive pricing of The Wrath of Khan's videocassette helped bolster the adoption of VHS players in households. Later films were also released on LaserDisc as well. For those films that did not receive an initial DVD release, Paramount released simple one-disc versions with no special features. Later, the first ten films were released in two-disc collector's versions, with The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan branded as "director's cuts", followed by later box set releases. All of the films are now available on Blu-ray, digital download, streaming media and video on demand.
- 1 Development
- 2 The Original Series films
- 3 The Next Generation films
- 4 Reboot (Kelvin Timeline) films
- 5 Cast
- 6 Crew and other
- 7 Reception
- 8 References
- 9 Bibliography
The Original Series cast
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry first suggested the idea of a Star Trek feature in 1969. When the original television series was cancelled, he lobbied to continue the franchise through a film. The success of the series in syndication convinced the studio to begin work on a feature film in 1975. A series of writers attempted to craft a suitably epic screenplay, but the attempts did not satisfy Paramount, so the studio scrapped the project in 1977. Paramount instead planned on returning the franchise to its roots with a new television series, Star Trek: Phase II. The massive worldwide box office success of Star Wars in mid-1977 sent Hollywood studios to their vaults in search of similar sci-fi properties that could be adapted or re-launched to the big screen. When Columbia's Close Encounters of the Third Kind had a huge opening in late December 1977, Paramount was convinced that science fiction films other than Star Wars could do well at the box office, and production of Phase II was cancelled in favor of making a Star Trek film.
Principal photography for Star Trek: The Motion Picture commenced August 7, 1978 with director Robert Wise helming the feature. The production encountered difficulties and slipped behind schedule, with effects team Robert Abel and Associates proving unable to handle the film's large amount of effects work. Douglas Trumbull was hired and given a blank check to complete the effects work in time and location; the final cut of the film was completed just in time for the film's premiere. The film introduced an upgrade to the technology and starship designs, making for a dramatic visual departure from the original series. Many of the set elements created for Phase II were adapted and enhanced for use in the first feature films. It received mixed reviews from critics; while it grossed $139 million the price tag had climbed to about $35 million due to costly effects work and delays.
The Motion Picture's gross was considered disappointing, but it was enough for Paramount to back a sequel with a reduced budget. After Roddenberry pitched a film in which the crew of the Enterprise goes back in time to ensure the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he was "kicked upstairs" to a ceremonial role while Paramount brought in television producer Harve Bennett to craft a better—and cheaper—film than the first. After watching all the television episodes, Bennett decided that the character of Khan Noonien Singh was the perfect villain for the new film. Director Nicholas Meyer finished a complete screenplay in just twelve days, and did everything possible within budget to give The Wrath of Khan a nautical, swashbuckling feel, which he described as "Horatio Hornblower in outer space." Upon release, the reception of The Wrath of Khan was highly positive; Entertainment Weekly's Mark Bernadin called The Wrath of Khan, "the film that, by most accounts, saved Star Trek as we know it".
Meyer declined to return for the next film, so directing duties were given to cast member Leonard Nimoy for the third film. Paramount gave Bennett the green light to write Star Trek III the day after The Wrath of Khan opened. The producer penned a resurrection story for Spock that built on threads from the previous film and the original series episode "Amok Time". Nimoy remained director for the next film in the series. Nimoy and Bennett wanted a film with a lighter tone that did not have a classic antagonist. They decided on a time travel story with the Enterprise crew returning to their past to retrieve something to save their present—eventually, humpback whales. After having been dissatisfied with the script written by Daniel Petrie Jr., Paramount hired Meyer to rewrite the screenplay with Bennett's help. Meyer drew upon his own time travel story Time After Time for elements[which?] of the screenplay. Star William Shatner was promised his turn as director for Star Trek V, and Nicholas Meyer returned as director/co-writer for Star Trek VI.
The Next Generation cast
Both the sixth and seventh films acted as transitions between the films featuring the original cast and those with the Next Generation cast, with the sixth focusing on the original cast and the seventh focusing on the TNG cast. The Next Generation cast made four films over a period of eight years, with the last two performing only moderately well (Insurrection) and disappointingly (Nemesis) at the box office.
After the poor reception of Star Trek: Nemesis and the cancellation of the television series Star Trek: Enterprise, the franchise's executive producer Rick Berman and screenwriter Erik Jendresen began developing a new film, entitled Star Trek: The Beginning, which would take place after Enterprise but before The Original Series. J. J. Abrams, the producer of Cloverfield and creator of Lost, was a huge fan of Star Wars as a child and confessed that the Star Trek franchise felt "disconnected" for him. In February 2007, Abrams accepted Paramount's offer to direct the new Star Trek film, having been previously attached as producer. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman wrote a screenplay that impressed Abrams, featuring new actors portraying younger versions of the original series' cast. The Enterprise, its interior, and the original uniforms were redesigned. While the film was ready for a December 2008 release, Paramount chose to move the film's opening to May 8, 2009. The film earned over $350 million worldwide (from a solid $75.2 million opening weekend, higher than Star Trek: First Contact (1996)), and surpassed Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as the highest-grossing film in the franchise. A sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, was greenlighted even before the first one opened, and Paramount released the film on May 17, 2013. A third film, Star Trek Beyond, was directed by Justin Lin and produced by Abrams. It was released on July 22, 2016, also to critical acclaim.
This revival of the franchise is often considered to be, and referred to as, a "reboot", but it is technically a continuation of the franchise (Nimoy reprises his role of Spock from the previous films) that establishes an alternate reality from the previous films. This route was taken, over a traditional reboot, to free the new films from the restrictions of established continuity without completely discarding it, which the writers felt would have been "disrespectful". This new reality was informally referred to by several names, including the "Abramsverse", "JJ Trek" and "NuTrek", before it was named the "Kelvin Timeline" (versus the "Prime Timeline" of the original series and films) by Michael and Denise Okuda for use in official Star Trek reference guides and encyclopedias. The name Kelvin comes from the USS Kelvin, a starship involved in the event that creates the new reality in Star Trek (2009). Abrams named the starship after his grandfather Henry Kelvin, whom he also pays tribute to in Into Darkness with the Kelvin Memorial Archive.
Fans commonly considered the films to follow a "curse" that even-numbered films were better than the odd-numbered installments. This is partially borne out by review aggregator statistics. For example, prior to the release of the 13th film the odd-numbered entries averaged 57% on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes while the even-numbered entries averaged 79%. However, this perceived difference in quality is not reflected in box-office performance with the odd and even numbered entries having a virtually identical attendance in the United States and Canada on average.
The tenth film, Nemesis, was considered the even film that defied the curse. Its failure and the subsequent success of Star Trek (2009) were considered to have broken the trend. The curse has been mentioned often in popular culture. One of the best known examples occurred in a 1999 episode of the Channel 4 sitcom Spaced, where it was referenced by Tim Bisley, played by Simon Pegg; Pegg, quite conscious of the irony, played Scotty in the eleventh and subsequent films.
The Original Series films
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
A massive energy cloud from another dimension advances toward Earth, leaving destruction in its wake, and the Enterprise must intercept it to determine what lies within, and what its intent might be.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán), whom Kirk thwarted in his attempt to seize control of the Enterprise fifteen years earlier ("Space Seed"), seeks his revenge and lays a cunning and sinister trap.
Both the first and second films have television versions with additional footage and alternate takes that affect the storyline. (Subsequent Star Trek films tended to have shorter television versions). Especially notable in The Wrath of Khan is the footage establishing that a young crew member who acts courageously and dies during an attack on the Enterprise is Scotty's nephew.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
When McCoy begins acting irrationally, Kirk learns that Spock, in his final moments, transferred his katra, his living spirit, to the doctor. To save McCoy from emotional ruin, Kirk and crew steal the Enterprise and violate the quarantine of the Genesis Planet to retrieve Spock, his body regenerated by the rapidly dying planet itself, in the hope that body and soul can be rejoined. However, bent on obtaining the secret of Genesis for themselves, a renegade Klingon (Christopher Lloyd) and his crew interfere, with deadly consequences.
The first film to be a direct sequel to the previous Star Trek film.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
While returning to stand court-martial for their actions in rescuing Spock, Kirk and crew learn that Earth is under siege by a giant probe that is transmitting a destructive signal, attempting to communicate with the now-extinct species of humpback whales. To save the planet, the crew must time-travel back to the late 20th century to obtain a mating pair of these whales, and a marine biologist (Catherine Hicks) to care for them.
The second through fourth films loosely form a trilogy, with the later plots building on elements of the earlier ones. The third film picks up within several days of the conclusion of the second, the fourth three months after the third. (The fifth film takes place a month after the fourth, but is not directly connected to the plots of the preceding three films.) The third and fourth films were both directed by Leonard Nimoy (also co-writer of the fourth), best known as the actor playing Spock.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
Spock's half-brother (Laurence Luckinbill) believes he is summoned by God, and hijacks the brand-new (and problem-ridden) Enterprise-A to take it through the Great Barrier, at the center of the Milky Way, beyond which he believes his maker waits for him. Meanwhile, a young, arrogant Klingon captain (Todd Bryant), seeking glory in what he views as an opportunity to avenge his people of the deaths of their crewmen on Genesis, sets his sights on Kirk.
This is the only film in the franchise directed by William Shatner.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
When Qo'noS' moon Praxis (the Klingon Empire's chief energy source) is devastated by an explosion caused by overmining, the Klingons make peace overtures to the Federation. The Klingon Chancellor (David Warner), while en route to Earth for a summit, is assassinated by Enterprise crewmen, and Kirk is held accountable by the Chancellor's Chief of Staff (Christopher Plummer). Spock attempts to prove Kirk's innocence, but in doing so, uncovers a massive conspiracy against the peace process with participants from both sides.
This film is a sendoff to the original series crew. One Next Generation cast member, Michael Dorn, appears as the grandfather of the character he plays on the later television series. It is the second and last Star Trek film directed by Nicholas Meyer and last screenplay co-authored by Leonard Nimoy.
The Next Generation films
Star Trek Generations (1994)
Picard enlists the help of Kirk, who is presumed long dead but flourishes in an extradimensional realm, to prevent a renegade scientist (Malcolm McDowell) from destroying a star and its populated planetary system in an attempt to enter that realm. This film also included original crew members Scotty (played by James Doohan) and Chekov (played by Walter Koenig).
Following seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the next Star Trek film was the first to feature the crew of the Enterprise-D, along with a long prologue sequence featuring three cast members of the original series and the only appearance of the Enterprise-B.
Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
After a failed attempt to assault Earth, the Borg attempt to prevent First Contact between Humans and Vulcans by interfering with Zefram Cochrane's (James Cromwell) warp test in the past. Picard must confront the demons which stem from his assimilation into the Collective ("The Best of Both Worlds") as he leads the new Enterprise-E back through time to ensure the test and subsequent meeting with the Vulcans take place.
The first of two films directed by series actor Jonathan Frakes.
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
Profoundly disturbed by what he views as a blatant violation of the Prime Directive, Picard deliberately interferes with a Starfleet admiral's (Anthony Zerbe) plan to relocate a relatively small but seemingly immortal population from a mystical planet to gain control of the planet's natural radiation, which has been discovered to have substantial medicinal properties. However, the admiral himself is a pawn in his alien partner's (F. Murray Abraham) mission of vengeance.
Insurrection brought in Deep Space Nine writer Michael Piller instead of Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga who had written for Generations and First Contact.
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
A clone of Picard (Tom Hardy), created by the Romulans but eventually exiled to hard labor on Remus, assassinates the entire Romulan senate, assumes absolute power, and lures Picard and the Enterprise to Romulus under the false pretence of a peace overture.
Written by John Logan and directed by Stuart Baird, this film was a critical and commercial disappointment (released December 13, 2002 in direct competition with the James Bond film Die Another Day and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) and was the final Star Trek film to feature the Next Generation cast and to be produced by Rick Berman.
Reboot (Kelvin Timeline) films
Star Trek (2009)
In the 24th century, a supernova destroys Romulus. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), piloting a one-man vessel, attempts to contain the supernova by generating an artificial black hole, but is assaulted by a Romulan mining vessel captained by Nero (Eric Bana), who is bent on vengeance for Spock's failure to save Romulus; both vessels are pulled into the black hole and sent back in time to the 23rd century. Nero then captures Spock and uses the black-hole technology to destroy Vulcan. Spock's present-day younger self (Zachary Quinto), who is a Starfleet Academy instructor, and a volatile and arrogant cadet named James Kirk (Chris Pine) must then set aside their current differences, and join forces to prevent Nero from consigning Earth and the rest of the Federation worlds to similar fates.
This film acts as a reboot to the existing franchise by taking place in an "alternate reality" using the plot device of time travel to depict an altered timeline (known as the Kelvin Timeline, after the ship destroyed in the opening scene), featuring younger versions of the original series' cast. It is the first production to feature an entirely different cast of actors playing roles previously established by other actors, with the exception of an aged Spock played by Leonard Nimoy. It was directed by J. J. Abrams (who produced it with Damon Lindelof) and written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. According to Lindelof, this production was designed to attract a wider audience. It received positive reviews and a number of awards, including the film franchise's only Academy Award, for "makeup and hairstyling". A story that covered the events between Nemesis and Star Trek was released as the graphic novel Star Trek: Countdown in early 2009.
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
A Starfleet special agent (Benedict Cumberbatch) coerces an officer into blowing up a secret installation in London, shoots up a subsequent meeting of Starfleet brass in San Francisco, and then flees to Qo'noS. The crew of the Enterprise attempt to bring him to justice without provoking war with the Klingon Empire, but find there is much more to the agent's mission, and the man himself, than what the Fleet Admiral (Peter Weller) has told them.
Star Trek Beyond (2016)
The Enterprise is ambushed and destroyed by countless alien microvessels; the crew abandon ship. Stranded on an unknown planet, and with no apparent means of escape or rescue, they find themselves in conflict with a new sociopathic enemy (Idris Elba) who has a well-earned hatred of the Federation and what it stands for.
Star Trek Beyond was released on July 22, 2016, in time for the franchise's 50th anniversary celebrations. Roberto Orci had stated that Star Trek Beyond will feel more like the original series than its predecessors in the reboot series while still trying something new with the established material. In December 2014, Justin Lin was confirmed as the director for the upcoming sequel, marking the first reboot film not to be directed by J. J. Abrams, whose commitments to Star Wars: The Force Awakens restricted his role on the Star Trek film to that of producer. In January 2015, it was confirmed that the film would be co-written by Doug Jung and Simon Pegg, who revealed the film's title that May. Idris Elba was cast as the villain Krall, while Sofia Boutella was cast as Jaylah. Filming began on June 25, 2015. This is the last film of Anton Yelchin (Chekov), who died in an automobile accident on June 19, 2016.
Pine and Quinto have signed contracts to return as Kirk and Spock for a fourth film. In July 2016, Abrams confirmed plans for a fourth film, and stated that Chris Hemsworth would return as Kirk's father, George, whom he played in the prologue of the first film. Later that month, Paramount confirmed the return of Hemsworth as well as most of the Beyond cast, producers Abrams and Lindsey Weber, and writers J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay. That same month, Abrams had said that Chekov would not be recast, after Anton Yelchin died in a motor vehicle incident.
In December 2017, Deadline Hollywood reported that Quentin Tarantino is currently working on the next Star Trek theatrical installment with Abrams, with the intention being that the former will direct the film. Mark L. Smith, Lindsey Beer, Megan Amram and Drew Pearce took part in the writers room before Paramount finalized a deal with Smith to write the screenplay. Fans and critics have reacted with uncertainty to the news that Tarantino told Paramount that he planned for this to be the first R-rated Star Trek film.
In April 2018, it was announced that two new Star Trek films are in development at Paramount. Later that month, it was announced that S. J. Clarkson will direct the second Star Trek film in development, and that the film will enter production before Tarantino's film. J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay will co-write the screenplay, while Abrams and Lindsey Weber will co-produce the project.
The following table shows the cast members who played the primary characters in the film series:
Crew and other
|The Motion Picture||II
The Wrath of Khan
The Search for Spock
The Voyage Home
The Final Frontier
The Undiscovered Country
|Generations||First Contact||Insurrection||Nemesis||Star Trek||Into Darkness||Beyond||Untitled Star Trek film|
|Director(s)||Robert Wise||Nicholas Meyer||Leonard Nimoy||William Shatner||Nicholas Meyer||David Carson||Jonathan Frakes||Stuart Baird||J. J. Abrams||Justin Lin||S. J. Clarkson||Quentin Tarantino|
|Producer(s)||Gene Roddenberry||Robert Sallin||Harve Bennett||Ralph Winter,
|Rick Berman||Rick Berman, Marty Hornstein,
|Rick Berman||J. J. Abrams,
|J. J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof,
Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
|J. J. Abrams, Roberto Orci,
Lindsey Weber, Justin Lin
|J. J. Abrams, Lindsey Weber||J. J. Abrams|
|Composer(s)||Jerry Goldsmith||James Horner||Leonard Rosenman||Jerry Goldsmith||Cliff Eidelman||Dennis McCarthy||Jerry Goldsmith,
|Jerry Goldsmith||Michael Giacchino||TBA|
Alan Dean Foster
Jack B. Sowards,
Nicholas Meyer (uncredited)
Story by: Harve Bennett,
Jack B. Sowards
Nicholas Meyer (uncredited),
Samuel A. Peeples (uncredited)
Denny Martin Flinn
Ronald D. Moore,
Ronald D. Moore,
Ronald D. Moore
Ronald D. Moore
|J. D. Payne,
Mark L. Smith
J. J. Abrams
|Running time||132 minutes||113 minutes||105 minutes||119 minutes||106 minutes||110 minutes||118 minutes||111 minutes||103 minutes||116 minutes||126 minutes||132 minutes||122 minutes||[to be determined]|
Box office performance
|Film||Release date||Box office gross||Budget||Reference|
|North America||Other territories||Worldwide||Adjusted North America|
|The Motion Picture||December 7, 1979||$82,258,456||$56,741,544||$139,000,000||$277,362,992||$35 million|||
|The Wrath of Khan||June 4, 1982||$78,912,963||$16,887,037||$95,800,000||$202,648,252||$12 million|||
|The Search for Spock||June 1, 1984||$76,471,046||$10,528,954||$87,000,000||$180,130,709||$18 million|||
|The Voyage Home||November 26, 1986||$109,713,132||$23,286,868||$133,000,000||$244,939,397||$24 million|||
|The Final Frontier||June 9, 1989||$52,210,049||$17,989,951||$70,200,000||$103,074,550||$30 million|||
|The Undiscovered Country||December 6, 1991||$74,888,996||$22,011,004||$96,900,000||$134,555,015||$27 million|||
|Generations||November 18, 1994||$75,671,262||$44,328,738||$120,000,000||$124,940,831||$38 million|||
|First Contact||November 22, 1996||$92,027,888||$57,972,112||$150,000,000||$143,597,091||$46 million|||
|Insurrection||December 11, 1998||$70,187,658||$47,612,342||$117,800,000||$105,381,796||$70 million|||
|Nemesis||December 13, 2002||$43,254,409||$24,058,417||$67,312,826||$58,851,605||$60 million|||
|Star Trek||May 8, 2009||$257,730,019||$127,950,427||$385,680,446||$293,988,919||$150 million|||
|Into Darkness||May 16, 2013||$228,778,661||$238,602,923||$467,381,584||$240,348,325||$190 million|||
|Beyond||July 22, 2016||$158,848,340||$184,623,476||$343,471,816||$161,975,970||$185 million|||
Critical and public response
|Film||Rotten Tomatoes||Metacritic||CinemaScore||Roger Ebert|
|The Motion Picture||44% (36 reviews)||48 (16 reviews)||N/A||3 Stars|
|The Wrath of Khan||88% (51 reviews)||67 (18 reviews)||N/A||3 Stars|
|The Search for Spock||79% (43 reviews)||56 (17 reviews)||N/A||3 Stars|
|The Voyage Home||85% (40 reviews)||71 (17 reviews)||A+||3 Stars|
|The Final Frontier||22% (45 reviews)||43 (16 reviews)||A−||2 Stars|
|The Undiscovered Country||83% (52 reviews)||65 (18 reviews)||A−||3 Stars|
|Generations||49% (51 reviews)||55 (22 reviews)||B+||2 Stars|
|First Contact||93% (55 reviews)||71 (18 reviews)||A−||3.5 Stars|
|Insurrection||55% (67 reviews)||64 (19 reviews)||B+||2 Stars|
|Nemesis||38% (162 reviews)||51 (29 reviews)||A−||2 Stars|
|Star Trek||94% (340 reviews)||82 (46 reviews)||A||2.5 Stars|
|Into Darkness||85% (274 reviews)||72 (43 reviews)||A||2.5 Stars*|
|Beyond||85% (279 reviews)||68 (50 reviews)||A–||2.5 Stars*|
- Not reviewed by Roger Ebert
|The Original Series|
|The Next Generation|
|Reboot (Kelvin Timeline)|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Star Trek (film franchise).|
- Reeves-Stevens, Judith and Garfield (1995). The Art of Star Trek. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-89804-3.
- Rioux, Terry Lee (2005). From Sawdust to Stardust: The Biography of DeForest Kelley. Pocket Books. pp. 240–249. ISBN 0-7434-5762-5.
- Sackett, Susan; Roddenberry, Gene (1980). The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-25181-3.
- Shay, Don (August 1980). "Into the V'Ger maw with Douglass Trumbull", "Star Trekking at Apogee with John Dykstra". Cinefex: 4–33, 50–72.