1. Even before Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was released Paramount asked Leonard Nimoy to return to direct the next film in the franchise, and they also offered him much greater freedom and more creative control than he had previously been allowed. Nimoy decided he wanted a movie that would be in stark contrast to the drama-heavy and operatic events of the three previous Star Trek films, and he and producer Harve Bennett both concurred that a lighter story which does not have a clear-cut villain would be the way forward.
2. Initially William Shatner was unwilling to return to the role of Captain Kirk, so Nimoy and Bennett spent eight months developing a prequel concept by Ralph Winter about the characters at Starfleet Academy. Eventually Shatner struck a deal, which naturally included a pay increase and also an option to direct a fifth movie if one was to go ahead, and so he signed on to star. Nimoy and Bennett discarded all their work and began again.
3. Both Shatner and Nimoy received $2.5 million for the film (Nimoy's salary also included his directors fee). This was less than both their original demands, but substantially more than they had ever been paid before. It had been 20 years since the television series debuted, but Paramount knew that right then the franchise had never been more popular, yet the cast's rising salaries were causing concern, and with the idea of the cheaper prequel concept being favoured amongst some executives it prompted Paramount to explore ideas to create a new Star Trek television series, with less-expensive, lesser-known actors. Hence Star Trek: The Next Generation was born.
4. It was Nimoy who came up with the idea of using humpback whales after reading a book about extinct animals. He realised that their song added mystery and their size added a challenge for the crew to overcome.
5. It's well documented that Star Trek fan Eddie Murphy wanted a starring role in the film. Nimoy and Murphy met and the pair of them both acknowledged that his part would attract non-Star Trek fans to the franchise following his rise in popularity after Beverly Hills Cop, but Nimoy also felt the film might be ridiculed. Steve Meerson and Peter Krikes were hired to write a script which would include Murphy, once completed executive producer Jeffrey Katzenberg described it as "either the best or worst idea in the world". Murphy felt it was the latter. His proposed role was that of a college professor who believes in aliens and likes to play whale songs. He passed explaining that he wanted to play an alien or a Starfleet officer.
6. In this early script the Klingon Bird-of-Prey was to fly over the Super Bowl, and there was a hint that Saavik had remained on Vulcan because she was pregnant with Spock's child. Most of the ideas were discarded, although some elements of Murphy's proposed character would be incorporated into that of Gillian Taylor.
7. Realising that maybe this script was the "worst idea", Paramount decided it needed some major redrafting. Head of production Dawn Steele asked Nicholas Meyer, the writer and director of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, to help perform the rewrite. Meyer agreed to do so on the strength of the synopsis alone, choosing not to read the earlier script, reasoning it pointless since the content had no appeal to the studio. He and Harve Bennett split the rewrite task between them, with Bennett writing the first quarter of the story, up to the point where the crew goes back in time, then Meyer providing the middle portion, taking place on 20th-century Earth, and Bennett handling the ending. After 12 days of writing, the duo combined their separate portions.
8. In Meyer and Bennett's first draft, Gillian Taylor stays on 1986's Earth and vows to ensure the survival of the humpback whale despite the paradox it could create. Meyer later claimed that he preferred this "righter ending" to the film version, explaining...
"The end in the movie detracts from the importance of people in the present taking the responsibility for the ecology and preventing problems of the future by doing something today, rather than catering to the fantasy desires of being able to be transported in time to the near-utopian future."
9. According to James Doohan (Mr. Scott), Scotty's line of "Admiral, there be whales here!" was his absolute favorite Scotty line.
10. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home delivered the highest grossing box office results of any of the original Star Trek movies - $109million from a budget of $25million. No other Star Trek film would earn more until 2009's reboot.
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