The tag line for the 2009 reboot of Star Trek was "The Future Begins". However, the future had almost began many, many times before...
1. Gene Roddenberry had first teased a Star Trek movie prequel to the television series as early as the 1968 World Science Fiction Convention. Clearly nothing ever came of that, but the prequel concept did resurface in the late 1980s, when Ralph Winter and Harve Bennett submitted a proposal for a prequel during development of the fourth Star Trek film. The idea hung around and began to gain some momentum as Paramount became increasingly concerned about the original casts' rising salaries, and so after the disappointing return for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Bennett was given the go-ahead to begin work on his prequel concept that would see new younger (cheaper) actors play the main cast at Starfleet Academy. Bennett worked on the prequel idea for over a year, assisted by writer David Loughery, who recalled:
"When I heard about the idea, I thought it was terrific. Not from the point of view of recasting, but from the point of view of storytelling, because I worked so closely with these characters on Star Trek V, that the idea of doing an origin story – where you show them as young cadets and kids – was tremendously exciting. What it was, was a real coming of age story."Loughery completed a script entitled The Academy Years, but it was shelved in light of objections from Roddenberry and the fanbase, and the film that was commissioned instead ended up being Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
But the prequel concept refused to die, and, once again, after the financial failure of the tenth film, Star Trek: Nemesis, and the cancellation of the television series Star Trek: Enterprise, the franchise's executive producer Rick Berman and screenwriter Erik Jendresen began developing a new film entitled Star Trek: The Beginning. This time it was to revolve around a new set of characters, led by Kirk's ancestor Tiberius Chase, and be set during the Earth-Romulan War, after the events of Enterprise but before the events of the original series. Again, the idea was shelved.
Then in September 2005, Gail Berman, then president of Paramount, convinced CBS' chief executive, Leslie Moonves, to allow them eighteen months to develop a new Star Trek film, and if it wasn't in production by then CBS would re-earn the rights to develop a new television series. Berman approached Mission: Impossible III writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman for ideas on the new film, and after M:I III had completed shooting she asked the director, J.J. Abrams, to produce it.
Initially unaware of any previous prequel concepts, Abrams, Orci and Kurtzman, plus producers Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk, felt that over the course of 10 movies and three 'sequel' television series' the Star Trek franchise had explored enough of what took place after the events of The Original Series, and so set about developing their own prequel treatment.
On February 23rd 2007 Abrams accepted Paramount's offer to direct the film, after having initially been attached to it solely as a producer, and Star Trek officially went into production days before the imminent CBS deadline.
2. The news that J.J. Abrams would be rebooting Star Trek did not exactly go down well among many Trek fans, and it wasn't helped by his comments. In an interview with Empire magazine, Abrams said that he had never seen Star Trek: Nemesis because he felt the franchise had "disconnected" from the original series. For him, he said, Star Trek was about Kirk and Spock, and the other series were like "separate space adventure[s] with the name Star Trek". He also acknowledged that he only became involved with the project as producer initially because he wanted to help Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof, and that he actually preferred Star Wars!
But this was all sort of the reason why Paramount were so keen on Abrams, as they wanted to introduce newcomers to the series. However, Orci and Lindelof did consider themselves trekkies, and felt it vital to not alienate Trek's established fanbase, and it was their screenplay that convinced Abrams to jump on board as director. Orci said that it had been his and Kurtzman's aim to impress a casual fan like Abrams with their story, and it seemed to do just that, as Abrams said,
"I knew this would work, because the script Alex and Bob wrote was so emotional and so relatable. I didn't love Kirk and Spock when I began this journey – but I love them now."
3. Orci also felt that getting Leonard Nimoy in the film was a key factor. "Having him sitting around a camp fire sharing his memories was never gonna cut it" though, and time travel was going to be included in the film from the beginning. So Abrams and the writers met Nimoy at his house; Orci recalled the actor gave a "'Who are you guys and what are you up to?' vibe". Orci explained to Nimoy that he was so important to the movie that if he didn't like the story they presented him with production would be delayed for it to be rewritten. Nimoy later said,
"This is the first and only time I ever had a filmmaker say, 'We cannot make this film without you and we won't make it without you'"Nimoy remained silent, and his wife, Susan Bay, told the creative team he had remained in his chair after their conversation, emotionally overwhelmed by his decision to return to the role of Spock after turning down many opportunities to revisit the character. He was "genuinely excited" by the script's scope and its detailing of the characters' backstories, saying,
"We have dealt with [Spock being half-human, half-Vulcan], but never with quite the overview that this script has of the entire history of the character, the growth of the character, the beginnings of the character and the arrival of the character into the Enterprise crew."4. Orci and Kurtzman also wrote a scene for William Shatner, in which old Spock gives his younger self a recorded message by Kirk from the previous timeline.
"It was basically a Happy Birthday wish knowing that Spock was going to go off to Romulus, and Kirk would probably be dead by the time."It would have shifted into Shatner reciting "Where no man has gone before". However, Shatner wanted to share Nimoy's major role, and did not want a cameo, despite his character's death in Star Trek Generations. He suggested the film canonise his novels where Kirk is resurrected, but Abrams decided if his character was accompanying Nimoy's, it would have become a film about the resurrection of Kirk, and not about introducing the new versions of the characters.
5. Several other actors came close to playing the younger roles of Kirk, Spock and co. Chris Pratt auditioned for the role of James T Kirk, as did Joshua Jackson and Mike Vogel, with Vogel being a front runner before Chris Pine was cast.
Adrien Brody had briefly entered preliminary negotiations to play the part of Spock before Zachary Quinto was cast. Paul McGillion auditioned for Scotty, and while he didn't get the part, he impressed the filmmakers enough to be given another role as a barracks leader. Sydney Tamiia Poitier auditioned for the part of Uhura, and James Kyson Lee was offered the role of Sulu, but both he and Quinto, who had already been cast as Spock, were at the time members of the cast of the television series Heroes, and its producers told Lee they did not want to lose another cast member for three months.
6. Simon Pegg didn't audition for the part, he simply received an email from J.J. Abrams asking if he'd like to play Scotty. Pegg said he would have done it for free, or even paid Abrams to be in the movie if he wasn't offered the role.
Years before, Pegg's character in Spaced joked that every odd-numbered Star Trek film being "shit" was a fact of life. With the 2009 reboot of Star Trek being the eleventh movie in the franchise, Pegg noted,
"Fate put me in the movie to show me I was talking out of my ass."
7. Leonard Nimoy wasn't the only established Star Trek cast member to feature in the movie. Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation, recorded dialog for many of the Romulans on Nero's ship, and Majel Barrett (Nurse Chapel, Lwaxana Troi and the wife of Gene Roddenberry) once again provided the voice of the Enterprise computer, just as she had in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. She completed her voice-over work from her home, two weeks before her death on December 18, 2008.
8. Star Trek marked the first time that Uhura was been given a first name on screen: Nyota. Gene Roddenberry never came up with a first name for her while The Original Series was in production, instead it was author William Rotsler who first used the name Nyota for his 1982 licensed tie-in book, Star Trek II Biographies. Seeking approval for the name he contacted Gene Roddenberry and Nichelle Nichols. Gene Roddenberry approved of the name, and Nichols was very pleased as it was explained that Nyota is the Swahili word for star. From then on the name Nyota Uhura was often used in other printed Star Trek literature.
9. According to the audio commentary, J.J. Abrams had a meeting with George Lucas, during which they watched a rough-cut of the movie. Afterwards Abrams asked how he could make the film better, to which Lucas stated that he should add lightsabers.
10. Prior to this movie, the highest-grossing Star Trek film ever made was Star Trek: First Contact with a worldwide gross of $146,000,000. This film exceeded that gross by its second weekend of US release alone, and eventually pulled in a worldwide gross of almost $386,000,000.
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