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PHE Press Release: Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Fully Restored Director's Edition (4k UHD) (Paramount+ Streaming) (2 Viewers)

trevanian

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One point worth mentioning: while the budget was $15 million as stated in the article, it didn't "spiral out of control" to the tune of $44 million. That number actually includes all the development costs from attempting earlier theatrical films with writers as varied as Ray Bradbury, Ted Sturgeon, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg and John D.F. Black. Philip Kaufman was attached to an early version called Star Trek: Planet of Titans written by Chris Bryant and Allan Scott; after this version failed to get off the ground, Paramount shifted gears and decided to turn the project into a TV series called Star Trek Phase II that would anchor a proposed Paramount Television Network. The combination of a script deemed worthy of a feature film and the reality that a fourth television network was not economically viable for the cost of such a project sent it back to feature film development. There were budget overruns when Robert Abel and Associates was not capable of delivering as promised on special effects, but nowhere near the final quoted budget figure of $44 million. The final cost of the film itself was likely closer to $20 million. Welcome to Hollywood accounting.
Just to clarify on this: all of the costs preceding the actual production on TMP, from GR's office space for several years to the setbuilding for phase 2 and work that went into TITANS and pay-or-play contracts for cast, only came to maybe 5 mil of the total cost of the film. That's a figure from the PM on TMP, who was there for over a year, in an interview he did around the time the film debuted, that appeared in the RETURN TO TOMORROW book published several years back. He also estimated that the budget on the film stood at 37 mil (presumably counting that 5 mil worth of false starts) as of September 79 when he left. Given all the insane postprod OT/triple-time/whatever in the last several weeks for VFX and sound and such, it's easy to see that bumping up to 44 or 46 or even 50 mil. If that 37 didn't count the 5 mil of false starts, then it is easy to believe the actual cost is north of 50.

Other aspect to keep in mind in going up from the 15mil budget: that was based on a main-unit shoot duration that was nearly doubled a week or two after filming began. So right there, you're looking at a bump-up of at least a few mil -- and that revised schedule was still not met, with filming, which began in August, extending into 1979, and that doesn't count additional photography later in 79, for the Epsilon 9 filming, the SanFran tram station, the Klingon opening or the reshot spacewalk. And you've got millions lost with the Robert Abel end of VFX (4 mil is very much the low end, it was probably closer to double that), which get multiplied when you have the huge VFX crunch with the new vendors brought on in the last year.

TMP and TMP vfx have been a longtime hobby of mine; I've probably interviewed over two dozen vets of the film in the last 30 years, including Trumbull, Dykstra (multiple times) and more than a few people who started with Abel and transitioned over to the new teams, including the guy who shot the mo-con potato element that I guess was what made Wise blow his top when he finally forced Abel to show them some footage after a year of stalling, which led directly to his ouster. I'm not saying a making-of film about this movie has the potential that one about the formation of ILM for STAR WARS does (I've already written a spec on the latter, and it is pretty funny in a RKO281 meets BARBARIANS AT THE GATE kind of way), but there's just so much weirdness to the project that I still find it 'strangely compelling,' as Kirk once said.
 

Johnny Angell

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A few days ago I watched the 4K on P+. I enjoyed Kirk’s exterior “tour” of the Enterprise. Clearly it was intended, at least IMHO, to say to fans of TOS, that you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Somewhere after the halfway mark, the movie became a slog for me. It was an effort to finish it and I really wanted to enjoy it. Damn.
 

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I believe Paramount also rolled some of the aborted fourth network budgetary outlays into the TMP final budget, so that brings the number up as well.

That’s just Hollywood accounting for you. When Superman Returns came out in 2006, Warner charged a decade’s worth of failed Superman projects to that film’s budget, adding $100 million in expenses to the final tally that had nothing to do with the film they actually made. They then used that inflated number as the declared break even point, and declined to pursue a sequel claiming the film didn’t make back its money. It did actually make back its money. It just didn’t make back the decade’s worth of unrelated failed projects back.
 

Camper

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I agree 100% about the movie 1st half vs. 2nd half. First half gives us dozens of things we never saw or never saw in a quality way.

The impressive cloud and the Klingons (updated), their bridge (not a backdrop wall) taking on the cloud and getting wasted, Spock on Vulcan, Earth for the first time in 23rd century, the huge office complex and all the support vehicles, the trip around the fully imagined refit Enterprise, a look at the cargo bay and the updated interior sets, the whole crew (almost) on the main rec deck, an actual fatal transporter malfunction, the new photons torps and the wormhole scare, and the individual intros of McCoy and Spock on the ship and the new "warp effect" and then they reach the cloud and are attacked and we actually see the shields. Then the movie (for me) just sputters.

A seven minute cloud journey and they stare in awe. Then they fly over a really, really big ship and stare in awe. Then a probe takes Ilia and replaces her and she comes back a robot and and spouts cryptic and scary things. We get a bit of a jolt with Spock's space walk and theythen go back to standing around and trying to figure out what V'ger is -- and it's the Changling!!!
The story just isn't all that interesting to me.
Maybe some people like the story but it doesn't do it for me. Once the crew was assembled I thought we'd get a rousing story but it's slow and dull.
People nowadays really want to say how awesome and unique the movie is but Paramount knew if they didn't get back to basics they were dead in the water. Another high concept "serious" sci-fi themed movie would have killed the movie series -- if not the entire franchise.

I love it for a lot of reasons (Goldsmith) and it got the ball rolling again on Trek but it's not great entertainment in my book.
 

Lord Dalek

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It would have been better if they just made Planet of the Titans instead. At least that had a villain in it.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I think having a villain is overrated.

There are so many obstacles that humans face in actual contemporary life, let alone multispecies societies in a hypothetical future environment, that it becomes so limiting and repetitive from a storytelling perspective that we must have a bad guy with an evil plan.

In the movie “Arrival,” about how linguists might approach a first contact scenario, the Amy Adams character made a point that has stuck with me ever since. She uses math to establish a framework for communication. A rival team of scientists from another country use chess, which she opposes. When asked why, she points out that chess is a game of war and conflict. By establishing communication using those parameters, it creates an expectation that there must be fighting, that there must be winners and losers. It creates a framework where all ideas are adversarial, which would then inform every facet of communication.

The film “Tomorrowland” makes a related and not dissimilar acknowledgement in pointing out that the vast majority of our pop culture entertainment is centered around conflict and destruction, that it is inevitable and that only a special individual or group of special individuals can save us, and that that steady diet of negativity and defeatism leaves us collectively in a place where we believe the worst is inevitable and that we are powerless to stop it, leaving us looking to others to save us instead of leaving us feeling empowered to make a better world.

The message of those two films has stuck with me in the years since I’ve seen them.

I think Star Trek: The Motion Picture, for all of its imperfections, shows a different way, and that is why it is a film I return to more frequently than many other films which might be technically better or considered more entertaining.

I would like to see more science fiction stories, not less, that operate in a framework other than “bad humanoid needs to be confronted with violence,” with solutions other than “return violence with more violence in order to win.”

Star Trek has already told that story, more than once. The Wrath Of Khan was a wonderful film, but not every film needs to take its cues from it.
 

Camper

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STTMP has a villain -- it's Kirk until he settles down. The characters in Trek need to interact to be effective/interesting. So since they have no traditional adversary the writer basically has them turn on each other for the first 2/3 of the movie. Kirk argues with Bones, yells at Decker, is frustrated with Spock, ignores Scott's advice on the engines, McCoy and Spock interact in a more antagonistic/less endearing way than usual. It's all very unpleasant. I get that they solve the problem without violence but other Trek shows and movies showed that could be done in a much more entertaining fashion. Trek is and always was "action/adventure" and STTMP doesn't have any. Staring at the viewscreen in awe qualifies as neither. What's sad is that the writers thought that having the crew stare in awe would make the audience equally enthralled, but 40 years of opinions on the movie show that the majority of the audience wasn't buying it. They were bored.
Putting the words "Human adventure" in your slogan doesn't make up for the fact that the movie has none. A lot of TOS episodes ended without violence but few were as lethargic as the first movie.
 

BobO'Link

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The primary issue with ST:TMP is that it's little more than 3 scripts recycled from the original series, thinly veiled at that, all tied together with lots of "fan service" material. When I first saw the film (during its original premier) *that* bothered me more than anything else. I was very disappointed in the film. It's taken decades for me to appreciate it and accept it in spite of its warts. I *do* like the "Director's Edition" better than the theatrical version.
 

JoshZ

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Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is another example of a classic film with no villain.

I'm not sure I believe that. The aliens in that movie forcibly kidnapped dozens of people and removed them from their home planet for decades. The centerpiece of the film is a horrific scene of them snatching a child away right in front of its helpless, screaming mother. That they eventually bring everyone back at the end does not, in my mind, absolve them of responsibility for their actions. I've never bought into the movie's ending or the way it totally gives the aliens a pass for all the terrible crap they did.
 

Todd Erwin

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I'm not sure I believe that. The aliens in that movie forcibly kidnapped dozens of people and removed them from their home planet for decades. The centerpiece of the film is a horrific scene of them snatching a child away right in front of its helpless, screaming mother. That they eventually bring everyone back at the end does not, in my mind, absolve them of responsibility for their actions. I've never bought into the movie's ending or the way it totally gives the aliens a pass for all the terrible crap they did.
Or the government's cover-ups!
 

Josh Steinberg

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I haven’t really thought about it much but I’d probably say Close Encounters is a film that has antagonists but not villains, though some may see that as a distinction without a difference.

Merriam-Webster defines a villain in part as “a deliberate scoundrel or criminal” and I think the “deliberate” part is important. To me there’s a difference between conflict and misunderstanding existing between characters and groups, and malicious intent being the motivation for that conflict.

In TMP, V’Ger is unquestionably the antagonist, but I don’t see it as being a villain. V’Ger causes a significant amount of destruction and loss of life because it does not understand what it is doing in the way we do, but ceases causing harm once it becomes capable of understanding. There is also the secondary consideration that V’Ger is a more advanced lifeform, which changes the way morality is applied to the situation. If I were to kill another human, that’s murder. If I exterminate ants or termites, it’s not. V’Ger isn’t a benevolent force for good but it’s not an evil being either.

In TWOK, by contrast, Khan is very clearly both the antagonist and the villain. He seeks to cause pain, destruction and death for his own amusement and to gain from it. His actions are unambiguously evil.

Trek episodes across all the shows have explored both types of antagonists. I like a good villain story as much as the next fellow, but what makes Trek uniquely exciting to me is the way it can give a framework for exploring the first type. TOS episodes like The Immunity Syndrome or TNG episodes like Cause And Effect are ones I enjoy revisiting because of the way conflict is separated from intent. I think it’s something that we as a society could all learn from - that it is possible for their to be difference and conflict between individuals and groups, perhaps even irreconcilable difference, without ill intent.

Applying this to Close Encounters, whatever the aliens are up to, there’s no evidence of ill intent. They’re an advanced species operating at a level and morality foreign to us, and I’m not sure we can simply ascribe our value system to their actions and gain anything meaningful from that. The U.S. government certainly puts up obstacles to our protagonist, Roy, but it’s also the government’s job to protect its citizens and their actions (even if misguided or disagreeable) come from a place of them trying to do their job as they understand it to be.
 
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Colin Jacobson

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I'm not sure I believe that. The aliens in that movie forcibly kidnapped dozens of people and removed them from their home planet for decades. The centerpiece of the film is a horrific scene of them snatching a child away right in front of its helpless, screaming mother. That they eventually bring everyone back at the end does not, in my mind, absolve them of responsibility for their actions. I've never bought into the movie's ending or the way it totally gives the aliens a pass for all the terrible crap they did.

I think that it's potentially more complex than that.

For one, while Jillian is terrified and freaked out by the arrival of the aliens, Barry is amused and excited. He seems more than happy to go party with the aliens for a while.

Also, note that the aliens return Barry pretty quickly. This opens the possibility that the others who stayed on the mothership for decades did so willingly.

Did the aliens still abduct people in a "kidnapping" sense? Maybe, but also, they may've had the ability to sense who was open to coming with them, just as they managed to connect to Roy to get him out to Wyoming.

Obviously I understand why the Jillian/Barry scene seems scary/aggressive but the aliens may not have understood that they came across that way.
 

JoshZ

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I think that it's potentially more complex than that.

For one, while Jillian is terrified and freaked out by the arrival of the aliens, Barry is amused and excited. He seems more than happy to go party with the aliens for a while.

Also, note that the aliens return Barry pretty quickly. This opens the possibility that the others who stayed on the mothership for decades did so willingly.

Did the aliens still abduct people in a "kidnapping" sense? Maybe, but also, they may've had the ability to sense who was open to coming with them, just as they managed to connect to Roy to get him out to Wyoming.

Obviously I understand why the Jillian/Barry scene seems scary/aggressive but the aliens may not have understood that they came across that way.

Yeah, but what about all the anal probing, huh? Were all the kidnapees down for that? :D
 

Camper

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Yes, I'm sure all the kidnapped pilots were happy to spend decades away from their wives, kids, friends and family -- not some of them but all of them because obviously it was unanimous
 

Stephen_J_H

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I love it for a lot of reasons (Goldsmith) and it got the ball rolling again on Trek but it's not great entertainment in my book.
It's Goldsmith's most traditional [and therefore atypical] score, full of leitmotifs and the kinds of things you expect from A John Williams or an Erich Korngold score. There are some Goldsmith touches, like the use of the Blaster Beam, but it's one of his most lyrical scores. It's a score you can listen to without the film if you wanted to.
 

Colin Jacobson

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Yes, I'm sure all the kidnapped pilots were happy to spend decades away from their wives, kids, friends and family -- not some of them but all of them because obviously it was unanimous

My point is that we don't know.

We know zippo about the "kidnapped" humans. We don't know if they understood and consented or if they were truly abducted.

We don't know if the aliens used their abilities to sense who was up for the journey ahead of time.

We can speculate up a storm but we don't know, and unless Spielberg decides to address it - which I guess he never has - we never will know.
 

dpippel

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Also, remember that the abductees had barely aged if at all, and we got the dialog from one of the scientists, "Einstein was right!", followed by the retort, "Einstein was probably one of THEM." So for the people who'd been kidnapped, a very short amount of relative time had passed, while here on Earth decades had gone by in some cases.
 

Tino

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Yes, I'm sure all the kidnapped pilots were happy to spend decades away from their wives, kids, friends and family -- not some of them but all of them because obviously it was unanimous
We’ll since they didn’t age it doesn’t matter. Probably was the blink of an eye for them. Until they find out everyone they knew is now 30+ years older. ;)

Edit. Doug beat me to it!
 

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