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Jason_V

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Adding onto what Josh said, it took them four years to get STID onto screens (2009 to 2013). In that same time, Marvel got five movies on the screen. Marvel cultivated the audience with new product. Trek simply didn’t. No new TV show, no movies. All we had were books and comics. That won’t sustain your audience.

Say what you will about Star Wars under Disney, but they had a massive amount of product since Force Awakens aimed at all sectors of the audience.

Know what Trek was super good at during the same time? Endless rehashes of old product. Reissues of TNG and movies and fan collectives and best of’s. Yippee joy joy. 🙄
 

Lord Dalek

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Adding onto what Josh said, it took them four years to get STID onto screens (2009 to 2013). In that same time, Marvel got five movies on the screen. Marvel cultivated the audience with new product. Trek simply didn’t. No new TV show, no movies. All we had were books and comics. That won’t sustain your audience.

Say what you will about Star Wars under Disney, but they had a massive amount of product since Force Awakens aimed at all sectors of the audience.

Know what Trek was super good at during the same time? Endless rehashes of old product. Reissues of TNG and movies and fan collectives and best of’s. Yippee joy joy. 🙄
You can lay the blame for that at the feet of the Viacom breakup. Both CBS and Paramount had their hands on the franchise and there was little to no synergy between the two factions to keep product fresh.

In the 10 years since we've gone from Trek being a disaster because nobody at Paramount and CBS knows what to do with it to Trek being a disaster because it just flat out sucks except for Lower Decks. Its been a strange ride.
 

Jason_V

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You can lay the blame for that at the feet of the Viacom breakup. Both CBS and Paramount had their hands on the franchise and there was little to no synergy between the two factions to keep product fresh.
Absolutely. They both screwed the pooch because they couldn’t play nicely together and look what happened.

I remember a story from a trade which went into huge detail about what JJ wanted to do with Trek (mixing TV and movies, multimedia, all that jazz) and the studios couldn’t agree. He got fed up and stopped trying. And that’s how he landed at Star Wars.

I don’t much care who is to blame. What I know is that to continually keep your fan base engaged you need to engage them with content. CBS and Paramount didn’t because they were petulant children. Look what happened. The goodwill of ST 09 was used on the laughable STID. Which then translated to Beyond, which had the worst marketing of any Trek movie to date and seemed like an afterthought to the studio. The films have been in stasis since 2016. A half decade of no new theatrical Trek.

At the same time, we’ve had three seasons of Discovery, one season of Picard, one season of Lower Decks and a bunch of Short Treks. Prodigy is going to debut soon, along with a new season of Lower Decks. Disco, Picard and Strange New Worlds should have on tap for end of this year or starting early next year.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Maybe that’s for the best when all is said and done. I love the Kelvin movies and think they were perfectly cast, but even if they made a new movie every year, that’s not enough Trek to have the kind of experience I’m looking for. What they’re doing on the TV side I’m loving. I happen to love all of the new shows but there’s a lot of variety there which means that not everything needs to be for everyone, and we can get multiple adventures each year. The days of 26 episode seasons are never coming back but as we start moving beyond these pandemic delays, we’ll soon be at a point where more often than not, there’s a new episode of some kind of Star Trek every week, and that’s great. And they’re spending real money on this stuff too. The designs, sets and effects are all as good or better than what’s been in the recent films.

And that streaming money is also paying for a new restoration of the TMP director’s cut, and that’s great too.

It may all be a decade overdue but it’s finally happening.
 

Christian D66

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Paramount certainly failed to cultivate an audience despite the massive reservoir of good will that J.J. Abrams generated with his 2009 film.

My entire life of being a Trek fan before that movie was essentially spent in hiding - don’t admit it in grade school or you’ll get beaten up in the playground. Don’t admit it in college or you won’t have people willing to partner with you on group projects. Don’t admit it in the office or you’ll get picked on during the weekly department meetings. For those people who weren’t hostile about their dislike, there was always a plethora of excuses for why it was something they couldn’t try - that it was too goofy or too serious, that it was too complex or not complex enough, etc., etc., etc. People who studied the civil war so they could participate in a step by step reenactment would say there was too much to keep track of in Star Trek to even give it a try. People who obsessed over every second of Lost or Lord of the Rings would say that sci-fi/fantasy wasn’t for them.

In my view, Trek itself was never the issue. It was the perception that people who liked Trek were all out of Shatner’s “get a life” sketch was the issue. That it was terminally uncool.

There was a brief window with the Abrams film where that could have changed. It was treated by a general audience as a summer blockbuster, not some impenetrable, alien thing. People who never would have considered Star Trek before went and saw it and liked it. I was stunned at how many conversations I had about Trek with newcomers in 2009.

And then Paramount spent four years waiting to do a sequel out of deference to a filmmaker who wasn’t interested in returning to direct. And in that time, that new audience faded away. Hiding Trek fandom became a thing for me again. People who told me they loved the movie in 2009 were telling me by the time the sequel came out that they weren’t Trek fans and claimed either that they hadn’t seen the movie I knew they had seen, or claimed they didn’t like or couldn’t follow something which I had seen them do fine with. The “get a life” image took over again.

Now when I was growing up, this was pretty much also true with comic books. And yet, the MCU is the biggest thing in filmed entertainment now. And I think the reason for the disparity, at least in part, is that Marvel just keeps making the movies, takes the work seriously, honors the time and emotional investments of long time fans, but doesn’t hold itself back trying to appease any one group. They keep picking stories that can be appealing on their own and as part of a larger whole and have faith in what they’re doing and I think people respond to that. There’s no guarantee that characters like Thor would have become fan favorites. But Marvel committed to the idea and when they made their Thor movie, they didn’t do it with a “let’s hope people like it and if they do maybe we’ll one day make another one.” They made one movie while practically simultaneously putting Thor in an Avengers movie and planning a sequel. They created a pop culture roller coaster and invited the audience to come with them.

If you want to have a successful franchise in the modern era, one movie every four years doesn’t cut it. I think that is the biggest cause of theatrical Trek’s recent struggles. They’re not nurturing their audience, and the audience has found other things to do. They’re playing only to the audience that’ll show up no matter what instead of giving a larger audience cause to show up, but expecting that larger audience despite not putting the effort into maintaining it.
I hated the JJ Abrams reboots as they're made by somebody who has no feel for the show so yeah they were popular spectacles that few will want to revisit much in the future and also didn't create strong enough identities to build on. Where do you go with Scotty after hanging him off every mountain in the universe? But the films had an audience because we know ST. I feel like Trek has been utterly mainstream since the 90s. My Berkeley classmates all had viewing parties for ST: TNG when it started and they were jocks and lawyers. Yes, I made fun of them because the show tried way too hard to be an instant cult but it obviously worked and I was clearly the solo geek out...maybe it's the worlds I inhabit but ST and its iterations have been on the pop culture map since 1966. The "get a life sketch was funny but the tv and films kept a-coming. People might forget that the opening weekend audience for STII set box-office records -- I remember well as the audience was the exact opposite of ST:TMP, laughing, cheering, applauding and yes, crying. Even Harlan Ellison had to admit it was good. Not bad for this vicinity!
 

B-ROLL

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Khan may have been shot nearly entirely on soundstages (and TBF the Star Trek crew wasn't allowed to "go outside" until Star Trek IV!) but at least the film spent 20 minutes in Regula One and the Genesis Cave instead of the Enterprise.
Can I cook or can i cook ;)?
 

Adam Lenhardt

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I feel like Trek has been utterly mainstream since the 90s.
Even before TNG debuted in 87, it seems like TOS reruns got a fair amount of play in syndication. I remember watching original Star Trek episodes at random hours of the day back when WPIX was an independent station carried through a wide swath of the Northeast.
 

Midnight Mike

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I was 15 in ‘79 and was going to the NYC Trek conventions every September and February, and I can tell you in February of 1980, two months after TMP was released, the overwhelming opinion at the “Star Trek America convention“ was that the film was a massive disappointment. However, most of us fans saw it more than once. I myself saw it seven times, even though I knew something was not quite right with the film. That’s how strong the desire was to see any new Trek was.

Even as we were all ripping it apart at the convention, we’d also had it memorized already.

Today, I can’t even be critical or reasonable about its short comings, I love it unreservedly!

That being said, I really love the Directors Cut! It’s the only version I’ve watched for the last 20 years!

Bring on the 4K!
 

Camper

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that's interesting I saw the movie seven times in the theater as well and I also knew that it wasn't a great movie. But I literally thought it was going to be the last new Star Trek of my lifetime! LOL. And I too have not watched any version of Star Trek the motion picture except the director's Edition in the last 20 years except when doing comparisons of scenes and so forth. So jealous of how great the theatrical version looks on Blu-ray. Don't get me wrong I know it's a very old transfer and not perfect by any stretch but compared to the absolutely tattered print that they use for the director's Edition it's almost pristine. I can't wait to see the director's Edition in even better shape than the theatrical Blu-ray.
 

Colin Jacobson

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Star Trek ‘09 grossed more domestically than Into Darkness did. Into Darkness overperformed internationally which is an anomaly for Trek, which box office wise has always played better domestically. Less people saw Into Darkness in the states than saw the ‘09 movie.

The numbers make it seem closer than it was - ID about $30 million less, but ID also came out after the post-Avatar premium theater boom and sold a lot of IMAX, 3D and Atmos tickets at prices above what people paid to see the earlier film.

That’s not doing the Marvel thing I was mentioning earlier, where their films generally build on audience size over time. That’s what Paramount was hoping for and financed and marketed the film as that kind of tentpole, but that’s a long time between films in today’s environment.

The US box office for 2009 vs. "Darkness" wasn't all THAT different: $257m vs. $228m.

Yeah, you're right that 2009 sold more tickets because it didn't have the 3D and/or IMAX prices - don't remember anyone charging a premium for just Atmos - but the 2 were still pretty close.

I still view "Darkness" as a success, even if it wasn't the major smash Paramount may have expected, and even if it didn't grow the audience, at least it didn't lose a large part of the audience that saw the 1st movie.

"TMP" took a franchise that Paramount hoped would be the next "Star Wars" and damaged it with potential new fans.

2009 took a franchise then on wobbly ground and gave it new life.

I think the biggest mistakes with "Darkness" were a) 4 years between movies and b) reusing the "Khan" plot. The latter seemed lazy and pointless, IMO.

I do like "Darkness" more than a lot of people, but Abrams should've pursued an original story, not one that we already new - albeit with twists. "Darkness" wasn't a formal remake of "Khan", of course, but it still seemed odd to go to that well.

"Beyond" also came too long after its predecessor and was just kind of a mess in general!

Though WW, it took in almost as much as 2009, so it wasn't as much of a flop as seems...
 

Colin Jacobson

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Well Into Darkness did preform below expectations and Beyond just flat out flopped, which is why the film franchise is currently in limbo again...

As I note in the post above, "Beyond" didn't really flop. $158m US, $343m total WW - that's a big drop from 2009's US $257m but not that much below 2009's WW $385m.

I think it's noteworthy that given their huge budgets, none of the "Kelvin" flicks appeared to make money at the box office.

2009 and "Darkness" probably broke even, while "Beyond" likely lost money.

I'm sure they made up for some of this with video/cable/etc., but all cost so much money that they needed to sell more tickets than they did to hit that magical 2.5-3X multiplier...
 

Colin Jacobson

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Even before TNG debuted in 87, it seems like TOS reruns got a fair amount of play in syndication. I remember watching original Star Trek episodes at random hours of the day back when WPIX was an independent station carried through a wide swath of the Northeast.

TOS was huge in syndication through much of the 70s. That's how the revival of the franchise came to exist.

If TOS hadn't built up such a big fanbase via syndication, the franchise would've faded away.

TOS did so well in syndication that they created the animated series. Mego also put out all sorts of toys in that same time frame.

So even though TOS ended when I was 2, I knew it as a 6 or 7 year old kid because of syndication, TAS and toys.

I had the toys as a kid but I don't actually remember how much I watched TOS in syndication at that time. I know I got into the series pretty heavily early-mid 1979, which made me excited to see "TMP" when it hit...
 

Lord Dalek

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As I note in the post above, "Beyond" didn't really flop. $158m US, $343m total WW - that's a big drop from 2009's US $257m but not that much below 2009's WW $385m.

I think it's noteworthy that given their huge budgets, none of the "Kelvin" flicks appeared to make money at the box office.

2009 and "Darkness" probably broke even, while "Beyond" likely lost money.

I'm sure they made up for some of this with video/cable/etc., but all cost so much money that they needed to sell more tickets than they did to hit that magical 2.5-3X multiplier..

2009 had a small profit of 10m. ID either barely broke even or had a small loss, its not exactly clear. Beyond...lost 119 million dollars. There is no way you can spin that, it is the 2nd biggest flop in franchise history, only Nemesis did worse.
 

Dave Scarpa

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It makes no sense. However, the only two rational explanations that come to mind is either one, the people running Paramount have absolutely no idea of what they have and what they are doing, or, they are trying to optimize sales by forcing people to purchase an entire set for the few titles they want.
you only have to see the Trek Franchise as it now stands with Discovery and Picard to know that
 

jcroy

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you only have to see the Trek Franchise as it now stands with Discovery and Picard to know that

It is very well understood that ViacomCBS has placed a high priority on bringing in new younger customers. They also know that enough "legacy" older fans will likely still pay for the price of admission, even if it involves "holding their noses" at the same time.

Disney likely knows this very well too, when it comes to the Star Wars franchise.
 

ScottHM

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They also know that enough "legacy" older fans will likely still pay for the price of admission, even if it involves "holding their noses" at the same time.
Why would one wish to entertain themselves with a nose holding session? It's not logical.

---------------
 

jcroy

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Why would one wish to entertain themselves with a nose holding session? It's not logical.

---------------

Of course it is not logical. :)

Even bona fide "hate watchers" are still customers, when they are paying for the price of admission either directly (streaming services, theater tickets, dvds/blurays, etc ...) or indirectly (tv broadcasts, etc ...).

For example in the recent past, the lousy CBS summer tv show "Under The Dome" lasted for three seasons over 2013-2015 which was very popular for "hate watching". There was even a limited collector's edition bluray version for season 1, which had a giant plastic "dome" toy packaging.
 

Neil S. Bulk

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Yeah, you're right that 2009 sold more tickets because it didn't have the 3D and/or IMAX prices
Star Trek (2009) played in IMAX theaters. I saw it at Universal CityWalk during its initial run.

 
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ScottRE

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The original cast Trek movies did as well as they did at the start because of the fever people had for the series. As well as the obsession for Star Wars inspired theatrical SF and Fantasy. The early 80's were full of genre flicks. The Trek films also benefitted from the overwhelming nostalgia of the late 70's and early 80's for bringing back 60's shows. My generation was nursed on syndicated reruns of 50's and 60's shows. Star Trek was a huge cult hit and it was all perfect timing.

The first two Trek films were akin to the "reunion movies" which brought back old characters mixed with new in the hopes of generating a new series. Star Trek II in particular was VERY much like that:

Kirk is an Admiral. Everyone has promotions and new jobs. Kirk has a grown son we never knew about. An emergency brings them together. Kirk and his son are at odds. The heroes journey brings them together in the end. This could be "The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman" which aired a few years later.

After Trek II, though, they began to stop moving forward. Kirk stopped growing. They stopped mentioning Carol Marcus and David was killed off. Saavik was written out. Kirk was demoted to captain and given a new Enterprise. He got his best friend and brother back. All of those great strides and passing of time that the first two films introduced and made everything feel more real was erased to bring everyone back to their old jobs. By the time we see Kirk again in Star Trek V, everyone is in their TV series jobs and Kirk is climbing a mountain like he was in his prime. However, at this point, the fever was burning itself out. Fans went from "I want Kirk and Spock " to "I want Picard and Data!" The movies (which dropped in quality and care) weren't as attractive to people. And for the TNG movies to be successful, they had to completely change the format to fit the screen. Do you think anyone would have come to the theater to see a Troi and Geordi centered film? Or a 2 hour story about Picard negotiating a treaty or Data dealing with a lonely boy who pretends to be an android? At least TOS was an action adventure series that could translate well into a feature.

The 2009 Trek probably did as well as it did because it was a fresh start and you didn't need any knowledge of Trek lore to enjoy it. How many critics would review one of the films and say "add a star if you're a fan." Or "for Trekkies only." That's probably one of the reasons they lied about Bandersnatch being Khan. They may not have wanted to look like you needed to know anything going in. The ads for Beyond made it look like crap. I was very pleasantly surprised to see it was much more than that.

There isn't a hunger for theatrical "Star Trek" anymore. The audience is different and I don't think it has as much to do about the time between films as it is about the Star Trek Stigma. James Bond movies can have 6 year gaps and still smash the box office. Fast and Furious Movies can get more and more looney and lose cast members and still bring people in droves. Even a Star Wars film considered a flop makes more than a Star Trek movie.

People don't care enough about Star Trek to make it a blockbuster tentpole anymore. It belongs on TV. It does very well there. And these days, they look like movies.
 

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