Few amusement franchises in history have matched the commercial and originative success, the length of service, and the part to worldwide popular civilization as the science-fiction steamrollerStar Trek. Originally a telecasting show created by Gene Roddenberry which aired for three seasons on the American telecasting web NBC ( the National Broadcasting Company ) , from 1966-1969,Star Trekhas endured for 30 old ages, engendering five spinoff telecasting series ( numbering 726 episodes, including 79 of the original series ) , 10 characteristic movies, a casino/game attractive force in Las Vegas, novels, picture games, fan-written narratives, and a overplus of ware runing from T-shirts to mock props from its assorted embodiments. It is estimated that Paramount Pictures ( which has controlled the franchise since its original proprietor, Desilu Pictures — Lucile Ball’s mini-studio — was folded into Paramount in the late sixtiess ) , has generated more than 2.5 billion U.S. dollars from theStar Trekfranchise.
In 1966, telecasting author ( and former Los Angeles Police Department officer ) Gene Roddenberry, largely known up until that point as a gifted author of offense play and a Western, sold the construct forStar Trekto Paramount as a kind ofWagon Trainto the stars. (Wagon Trainwas a successful Western of the clip. ) In truth, Roddenberry had something rather a spot more ambitious and controversial in head than a simple-minded show about researching infinite. He intended to demo a positive, near-utopian vision of humanity’s hereafter and in making so, provide an aggressive and thoughtful commentary on humanity of the present. The show’s gap voiceover, given by histrion William Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk, went as follows: “Space: the concluding frontier. These are the ocean trips of the StarshipEnterprise. Its five-year mission: to research unusual new universes, to seek out new life and new civilisations — to boldly travel where no adult male has gone earlier. ” ( StarTrek.com, 2006 ) The show featured a unusually diverse crew given the all-white, all-American roof of the mouth of virtually every telecasting show of the clip.Star Trekfeatured a unusual foreigner, Mr. Spock, half-human and half-Vulcan ( with pointy ears many paranoid web executives believed the audience would believe Satanic ) , who struggled with the struggle between his human emotions and the Stoic, controlled logic of his Vulcan heritage ; it besides featured the first Afro-american officer of all time portrayed on telecasting, communications officer Lieutenant Uhura ( portrayed by Nichelle Nichols ) ; there was an Asiatic sailing master, Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu ( played by George Takei ) ; it besides featured a Russian span officer named Commander Pavel Chekov ( played by Walter Koenig ) , an about unheard-of impression during the Cold War. During the show’s three-year tally, it covered a assortment of modern-day societal issues, in allegorical signifier, such as racism ( having the first interracial buss of all time shown on American telecasting ) , the Vietnam War, faith, the Cold War, xenophobia ; and the show besides explored intriguing scientific discipline fiction constructs such as clip travel, parallel existences, transporter beams, and faster-than-light travel.
Ironically,Star Trekwas non considered by NBC to be a bona fide hit – its overall evaluations were mediocre at best, and it existed under changeless menace of cancellation. Roddenberry and the web executives invariably clashed about the show’s forcing of the originative and societal envelope. Finally, NBC efficaciously wrote the show’s decease sentence by traveling it to a Friday dark slot at 10pm, when most of its audience, immature males, were non home to watch. In those yearss, webs did non subdivide audience sing into demographic classs as they do now – there was merely a entire audience figure measuring for a clip slot. If NBC had measured the evaluations forStar Trekamongst immature males, the viewership would hold been stratospheric in Numberss and showed the web that it in fact had a really appealing and moneymaking vehicle for advertizers to make a desirable audience.
Star Trek’s true popularity did non attest itself until Paramount offered the show in syndication to local telecasting affiliates across the United States, who by and large aired it in the late afternoon. The show became a cultural phenomenon within a few short old ages. During this clip, the astute Gene Roddenberry, who had been fighting to do a nice income afterStar Trek, was selling Trek memorabilia, and limited ware, through a company he and his married woman, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, had formed expressly for that intent in 1967, called Lincoln Enterprises, which “helps the household use a contract it has had with Paramount since the 1960s and 1970s fundamentally giving them the right to market anything with the Star Trek name. Roddenberry said that besides pins, T-shirts, and other Star Trek memorabilia, [ Lincoln Enterprises, now Roddenberry.com ] besides is the merely accredited trader who can sell existent books from the shows.” ( Gservo,Team Ninja Bulletin Board,2002 ) By the early 1970s, Lincoln Enterprises was bring forthing some gross for the Roddenberrys and delighting the fans, all with Paramount Pictures’ stewing approval. Paramount would shortly recognize that selling could be a important beginning of gross watercourse, but the epoch of perpendicular corporate integrating and cross-platform trade name development had non yet arrived in the amusement industry.
The impressive success ofStar Trekin syndication led NBC to committee an aliveStar Trekseries in 1973, which portrayed the same originative existence with the same characters, voiced by the same histrions as the original series. It lasted two seasons, for a sum of 22 episodes, but was finally considered excessively expensive to maintain in production. Paramount, nevertheless, had become positive thatStar Trekhad plentifulness of exploitable ‘juice’ left in it, nevertheless, and was non about to allow it travel by the roadside, particularly sing the show was go oning to rake in money for the company in syndication, where its popularity had non waned. They were non wholly certain what to make withStar Trek,nevertheless, and stalled Roddenberry’s persistent efforts to convey the show back to life in a 2nd live-action series with the same dramatis personae.
Simultaneously, the landscape in show concern was altering. ThoughStar Trekwas successful in syndication, scientific discipline fiction as a genre had fallen out of favour in the 1970s until the colossal success ofStar Warsin 1977 sent film studios scrambling to double the good luck Twentieth Century Fox,Star Wars’moneyman and distributer. Around the same clip, the powers that be at Paramount were contemplating get downing a 4th telecasting web to straight vie with the decades-long hegemony of NBC, ABC, and CBS on the broadcast telecasting landscape. The erratic Paramount brass eventually envisioned aStar Trekseries as the flagship show of the new web, and commissioned the authorship of 12 books for a series to be entitledStar Trek: Phase II. The series even reached the point of building of new sets until Paramount pulled the stopper at the really last minute, make up one’s minding that the fiscal hazards of get downing a 4th web were excessively high, in the 100s of 1000000s of dollars, and that it made more fiscal sense for the studio to leverage the popularity of theStar Trekfranchise by commissioning a gesture image in hopes of capitalising on the renewed popularity of scientific discipline fiction.
Star Trek: The Motion Picturewas released in 1979 to blend critical and fan reappraisals, but however managed to reimburse its full production budget ( 40 million U.S. dollars, a astonishing figure for the clip ) and more, grossing a world-wide sum of 140 million U.S. dollars. Having the dramatis personae from the original series, the film’s secret plan concerned a investigation,Voyager 6, which had left Earth in the 20Thursdaycentury and disappeared into a black hole. The investigation reappeared two hundred old ages subsequently, holding assimilated the cognition and power of a God-like entity, and was ready to destruct Earth until Captain Kirk and crew intervened with theEnterprise.It was a philosophically ambitious narrative, but sloging and arrogant, non to advert excessively long and over-reliant on particular effects, taking fans to nickname it with such uncomplimentary nicknames asStar Trek: The Motionless PictureandSpockalypse Now.
Paramount’s reaction to the commercial success ofStar Trek: The Motion Picturewas cautious optimism. They believed the film’s budget had spiraled out of control and blamed Gene Roddenberry, who had produced it, for the sloppy book. He was removed from control of the franchise at this point in clip, to his acrimonious letdown, motivating a drawn-out legal difference with Paramount that was non to be resolved for old ages. The reigns were turned over to telecasting writer-producer Harve Bennett, manufacturer of such Television series such asThe Six Million Dollar Manand the award-winning made-for-TV filmA Woman Called Golda. Paramount Chairman Michael Eisner was reported to hold asked Bennett if he could do a film for “less than 40 sleep togethering million dollars, ” to which Bennett reportedly replied he could do three films for that much money. Bennett went on to bring forth and/or co-write the following fourStar Trekmovies,Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan( 1982 ) ,Star Trek III: The Search for Spock( 1984 ) ,Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home( 1986 ) andStar Trek V: The Final Frontier( 1989 ) . Each movie was commercially and critically successful save forStar Trek V, which received a critical thrashing for its cockamamie secret plan about theEnterprisecrew’s hunt for God, and became an embarrassment for histrion William Shatner, who had forced Paramount to allow him co-write and direct the movie as a status of his continued engagement in the franchise. ( Leonard Nimoy had done the same and directedStar Trek II and III. ) Bennett was worn out from clangs with Shatner during the 5th movie and elected to step down from the helm.
It became clear to the Paramount brass, even beforeStar Trek IVwas released, that they had another hit on their custodies ( so, the movie went on to gross 133 million U.S. dollars worldwide ) , and they began to be more receptive to the thought of Gene Roddenberry restarting control of the telecasting facet of the franchise. There was once more treatment of establishing a 4th telecasting web with anotherStar Trekshow as the flagship, but Twentieth-Century Fox, who launched the Fox Network in October 1986, beat Paramount to the clout. Paramount elected to take the bold and advanced measure of establishing a newStar Trekseries through direct syndication, utilizing the same economic and distribution theoretical account as many game shows such asWheel of FortuneandHazard. The job was make up one’s minding what the new show would be approximately. It was no longer economically practical to see utilizing the histrions from the original series, who were non merely aging, but besides “had gone on to other moneymaking callings. After having significant amounts of to look in a individual film one time every two old ages, it would be improbable they could be lured back to the grueling universe of hebdomadal telecasting production for a fraction of their film paychecks.” ( Reeves-Stevens, 1998, p. 7 ) Roddenberry elected, with the enthusiastic approval of the web, to maintain the same construct of the original series but set it several decennaries in the hereafter, on a later, updated version of the spaceshipEnterprise, manned by a bran-new crew, who handily would be played by cheap histrions, decreasing the initial fiscal hazard for Paramount. Roddenberry was appointed executive manufacturer and caput author of the new show, calledStar Trek: The Following Coevals, which premiered in September 1987. It became an immediate evaluations esthesis, staying the most popular syndicated plan for many old ages and stoping in 1994 after a critically and commercially successful seven-year tally.
In the interim, Paramount had released the popular and financially moneymakingStar Trek VI: The Undiscovered Countryin 1991, shortly after Gene Roddenberry’s decease. Control of both the telecasting show and the movie was handed over to Rick Berman and Michael Piller, who had joinedStar Trek: The Following Coevalsin its 2nd and 3rd season, severally. In 1994, the movieCoevalsswas released, having characters/actors from both the original series andThe Following Coevals, the latter of whom were to take over the characteristic movie existence. AsCoevalsswas in the plants andStar Trek: The Following Coevalswas weaving down, Paramount launched the firstStar TrekTelevision show created and undertaken without any counsel from Gene Roddenberry,Deep Space Nine. Created by Rick Berman and Michael Piller, the show centered around the lives of a multi-species group of people populating on a infinite station outside of a wormhole in a cardinal hamlets of the galaxy. While unmistakablyStar Trek,Deep Space Ninewas a darker, less Utopian vision of the existence envisioned by Roddenberry and focused a great trade on war, political machination, and faith, the latter of which was a subject Roddenberry felt was silly and would be a relic of the past by the clip humanity reached the 23rdcentury.
In a move perceived as greedy by many audience members and fans, Paramount launched yet another Television series merely two old ages after the premiere ofDeep Space Nine, calledVoyager, which launched in 1995. Having the franchise’s foremost female captain ( Janeway, played by Kate Mulgrew ) ,Voyagerchronicled the parturiencies of a ship of the same name that found itself 70,000 light old ages from Earth and was seeking to happen its manner place.Voyagerwas the flagship show of the new United Paramount Network ( UPN ) , which Paramount eventually launched, after two decennaries of contemplating the impression of a new Television web, in 1995. It was during the coincident tally ofDeep Space NineandVoyagerthat fans began to kick vociferously about the eroding of quality and substance in the franchise. The ailments were compounded when Paramount spent 70 million dollars to build a Las Vegas attractive force called Star Trek: The Experience, which opened in January 1998, which many fans thought an obscene perversion of Roddenberry’s vision. However, the Experience had entertained one million visitants within 10 months of its gap, bring forthing untold 10s of 1000000s of dollars for Paramount. Believing, seemingly, that the hard currency cow was bottomless in its possible, Paramount launched yet another telecasting series,Enterprise, besides helmed by Berman, at the decision ofVoyager’s mediocre tally in 2001. Sadly,Enterprisewas to go the first series in the telecasting constituent of theStar Trekfranchise that did non last a full seven seasons – it was cancelled in 2005.
Though the 8th and 9th installments in the film side of theStar Trekfranchise, 1996’sFirst Contactand 1998’sRebellion, were commercially successful and, in the instance ofFirst Contact, critically lauded, the 10th characteristic movie, 2002’sRebellion, was the worst-performing box office failure of all theStar Trekmovies and was trashed by the critics. Today, in 2006, the hereafter of the franchise remains in uncertainty, with no telecasting series on the air or officially planned, though an 11th characteristic movie is said to be in the plants, to be produced byMission Impossible III’s manufacturer J.J. Abrams, besides known for his telecasting work as the Godhead of hits showsAliassandLost. Selling, nevertheless, through Lincoln Enterprises ( Roddenberry.com ) and StarTrek.com, Paramount’s functionary web site, remains a strong generator of gross. Paramount has besides, for decennaries, sanctioned the writing/production of overplus ofStar Treknovels, amusing books, and picture games – excessively legion to name compactly — all under its direct licensing control, and therefore yet another impressive and on-going gross watercourse.
WhetherStar Trekcan go on to bring forth the amazing net incomes for Paramount that it has garnered over the past 35 old ages remains to be seen. New originative blood is needed, and Paramount’s replacing of Rick Berman with J.J. Abrams as the keeper of the franchise is a clear recognition of this world. One thing is certain, nevertheless: Paramount has been the immensely fortunate donee of a franchise that was non merely commercially moneymaking, but has made an unerasable and critical impact on human society with its message of hope for humanity.
BIBLIOGRAPHY / REFERENCES
“Introduction toStar Trek” available from:
hypertext transfer protocol: //www.startrek.com/startrek/view/features/intro/article/7693.html
Gservo, “Roddenberry Talks about the Future, ”Team Ninja Bulletin Board, 23 August 2002. Available from: hypertext transfer protocol: //www.team-ninja.com/vbulletin/archive/index.php/t-14286.html
Reeves-Stevens, Judith & A ; Garfield.The Continuing Mission ( Star Trek: The Following Coevals ). Paramount/Star Trek Publishing, 1998.
Roddenberry, Gene and Whitfield, Stephen.The Making of Star Trek( New York: Ballantine Books, 1968 )
Greenwald, Jeff.Future Perfect: How Star Trek Conquered Planet Earth( New York: Viking Press, 1998 )
Lichtenberg, Jacqueline ; Marshak, Sondra ; Winston, Joan.Star Trek Lives!( New York: Bantam Books, 1975 )
Shatner, William and Kreski, Chris.Star Trek Memories( New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993 )
Shatner, William and Kreski, Chris.Star Trek Movie Memories.( New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1994 )
Solow, Herbert F. and Justman, Robert H.Inside Star Trek: The Real Story( New York: Pocket Books, 1996 )