"Star Trek": Enterprise marketing

Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:21pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Jay A. Fernandez

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Remaking a universe is tricky. There's a risk of destroying the whole thing in the process.

On May 8, Paramount will set out for a new and, it hopes, not final frontier when it relaunches the iconic sci-fi franchise "Star Trek." After 43 years, 10 movies and more than 700 episodes of six TV series, the Melrose studio has bet at least $150 million (and tens of millions more in planned marketing) that Trekkies of all federations again will climb aboard the Starship Enterprise.

But reaching blockbuster status is a challenge only slightly less daunting than the Kobayashi Maru scenario.

The films based on Gene Roddenberry's 1966 space Western serial have not been mega-hits, and, more importantly, they have failed to draw big audiences in increasingly crucial overseas markets. The top-grossing "Trek" feature was 1996's "Star Trek: First Contact," which grossed $146 million worldwide, with only $54 million coming from international (1979's "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" actually has sold the most tickets in the series).

So rather than continue to milk a languishing franchise, Paramount essentially has started over, holding on to core elements of the "Trek" universe while courting a new audience as wide as the galaxy. The studio is gambling that a creative team of pop geeks coupled with a marketing juggernaut can rebirth a billion-dollar franchise the way Warner Bros. rescued the Caped Crusader with 2005's "Batman Begins" (which laid the groundwork for last year's mega-grossing "The Dark Knight"). The challenge is even tougher because the "Trek" franchise's core fans are some of the most ardent in geekdom.

"Our intention was to make 'Star Trek' something that appeals to everyone who's ever dismissed it in the past as being too sci-fi or too inaccessible," co-writer Alex Kurtzman says.

Paramount signaled a new direction in the franchise by hiring Kurtzman and co-writer Robert Orci, who wrote the blockbusters

"Mission: Impossible III" and "Transformers." Production president Brad Weston then spent three months convincing producer J.J. Abrams, who directed "M:I-3" but hardly was a "Trek" fanatic, to commit to helming the revamp.   Continued...

<p>A Klingon mask used as a prop from the television series "Star Trek" sits on display during a preview of the auction "40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection" at Christie's auction house in New York September 29, 2006. REUTERS/Keith Bedford</p>