Just a few months shy of the fortieth anniversary of its initial release, Star Trek: The Motion Picture will be warping back into theaters for a special two day engagement on September 15 and 18.
Originally released on December 7, 1979, the film may have not been a success at the box office, but it did help to keep the Trek franchise alive long enough for its first sequel Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, to give it the kick start that it needed.
Over the years, there have been a number of versions of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. After the original theatrical version had its run, the film aired on ABC with an additional thirteen minutes of footage added back in. The TV edit was assembled without director Robert Wise’s participation and he was reportedly unhappy that some footage was used. Wise got his own chance to revisit the film in 2001 when he oversaw a director’s cut DVD release that retained some, but not all, of the footage from the TV cut while also trimming some scenes from the original cut of the film to help the movie’s overall pacing. Additionally, the sound mix was reworked and new CG created visuals were added. This director’s cut is only available on DVD while the original theatrical cut is available on blu-ray.
Although the press release does not specify which version Fathom Events will be bringing to theaters, it is most likely the original theatrical edit.
The project had a long and tortured journey to the big screen. After Star Trek was initially cancelled in 1969, series creator Gene Roddenberry campaigned studio Paramount to move the franchise to the big screen. The studio eventually relented and started to develop a film version of the series in 1975. But in 1977, after a number of script ideas were mooted and abandoned, the studio decided it wanted to bring Star Trek back as a television series, which would form the cornerstone of a fourth television network they were planning. (Remember at the time there was only ABC, CBS and NBC for commercial networks.) But it was the success of George Lucas’s Star Wars followed by Steven Spielberg’s success with Close Encounters Of The Third Kind that got the studio thinking that getting the Enterprise up on the big screen might be the path to some big box office returns.
Part of the reason that Star Trek: TMP has such a large reported budget for the time is that all the negative costs from the previous failed film and series attempts were charged off against the final movie. The film had a struggle to make it into the black. It only did so barely, which made the studio leery about going forward with a sequel. Ultimately they decided to give a follow up the green light, but with a reduced budget and the warning that it could possibly be shipped off to TV if executives weren’t happy with the end product. However, when they did get a look at what became Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, they knew they had a winner. And the future of the Trek franchise was secure.