May 11, 2009 / 9:03 AM / 9 years ago

"Star Trek" a rare hit among TV adaptations

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Forget all those bad ‘boldly going’ puns.

Spock (Zachary Quinto, left) and James T. Kirk (Chris Pine, right) in a scene from the new "Star Trek" film. REUTERS/Paramount Pictures/Handout

The real headline in the “Star Trek” take of nearly $77 million at the North American box office this weekend is not all the talk about whether it could ultimately beat “Wolverine” or hold its own against the Catholic Church-loving/baiting of “Angels & Demons” next weekend.

It’s this not insignificant fact: a television property has again been successfully revived on the big screen.

It may at first not seem like such a surprise given how much coin these built-in brands seem to rake in, but it’s been a while. Outside of “Charlie’s Angels” (first feature installment, 2000) and “Mission: Impossible” (first feature installment, 1997), big-screen revivals of classic television shows could pretty much be counted on to generate all the excitement of a TV Land marathon.

In the last fifteen years, theatrical versions of classic TV shows had gone through several development renaissances ... and just as many box office busts, from the late-‘90s adventure remakes (“Lost in Space,” The Mod Squad”) to the recent comedy revival (“Bewitched,” “The Honeymooners”).

“Star Trek” breaks the streak, Remake culture had for the last few years moved on from ‘60s and ‘70s TV shows to ‘80s and ‘90s movies (“Robocop,” “Red Dawn” et al). This prequel could change that. In fact, some shows of older vintage are already off the shelf — “Magnum, P.I.” at Universal, “The A-Team” at Fox — and this kind of bank tends to prompt studios to give them a new polish.

But “Star Trek” is unique on several levels. The show has already had more feature iterations than some TV series have episodes. And some of the success this weekend is as much a function of timing as it is smart marketing and execution. Paramount couldn’t have known when it moved the release from Christmas ‘08 to spring ‘09 just how ideal the recession would be for a movie about other times and places — escapism at its most literal — but it proved to be a masterstroke.

More than anything, though, “Star Trek” has been the exception to prove the rule, consistently showing over 40 years that like a certain kind of distant planet, it can find life no matter who’s in it and what storylines are invented. When they think about remaking pretty much any other show, though, studio execs would be better off boldly going where others haven’t gone before.

Editing by Dean Goodman

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