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Old May 23 2013, 03:36 PM   #1
Warped9
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Did Abrams really save the franchise?

It's often said as something of a mantra: JJ Abrams saved the franchise.

Really?

Those who repeat that must either have a short memory or possibly they weren't around or of age forty years ago. After the original series ended its run in 1969 it went into syndication and it's in those dark days of the '70s that Star Trek's franchise really got going. The franchise was sustained by an increasing number of new fans finding the show through widespread syndication, grabbing up tie-in merchandise (books, models, toys, etc.), writing and sharing fanzines (self-publications) as well as conventions ever growing in size and number. Besides a relative handful of tie-in books the only other bone we were thrown was the short-lived animated series. And all of this based on reruns of a mere seventy-nine episodes.

Fans kept the franchise going without any Internet to maintain instant contact with other fans and with practically zero support from Paramount and the-powers-that-be. Strong fan interest (and the success of Star Wars in 1977) is what finally pushed Paramount to get new Star Trek going again. The ensuing films were never really blockbusters, but they made enough to keep the films coming until Paramount was finally convinced to get Star Trek back on television with The Next Generation and therein garnering a new generation of fans.

It could be argued TNG eventually led to the over-saturation and even fragmentation of the franchise with each subsequent spin-off. After essentially ignoring the show for years TPTB grew hell-bent on milking it dry. It also seemed to foster this sense that Trek was everywhere (sure felt like it) and it might continue indefinitely. But over-saturation, weakening ratings and poor films led TPTB to finally closing it all down.

Did this kill the franchise? Interesting question because things have changed greatly since the ‘70s. Back then there was little of decent science fiction (on television) to really compete with Star Trek and that stayed true for twenty years. It was the success of TNG that spurred the arrival of new SF on television. The franchise also grew with the rise of the Internet, something earlier fans would have died for in the ‘70s. Fandom could spread and shared in ways that couldn’t have been imagined before. Mass-market media has also changed greatly---some of it good and some not. In the day there were only reruns because the home video market didn’t exist yet. Today you can watch whatever you want anytime you want. There’s also a fragmentation aspect because there is a lot of other genre stuff besides Star Trek to watch and get into.

So when TPTP shut it all down after over-saturation was the franchise in peril or dormant or even dead?

No, because fans keep it going and TPTB continue to make money off tie-in merchandise of pre-existing shows and movies. As long as there are fans varying from casual to diehard (watching, collecting, communicating and sharing) the franchise is alive.

JJ Abrams didn’t “save the franchise” because fans were/are still keeping it alive. Setting aside whether one likes Abrams’ films or not all he did was create another version of Trek and pull more money into it.

At any point after TNG (if that’s all we’d gotten) the fans would still be here collecting, creating and sharing stuff along with discussing, debating and even arguing over the episodes and films. THAT’S what keeps the franchise going.

JJ didn’t save a damned thing.

Maybe it's this perception that unless something big and new is in your face then nothing is happening. Short attention span has led to anything more than a few years old is ancient and instant gratification has reached a new high (or low).
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Old May 23 2013, 03:44 PM   #2
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

I think it's accurate to say that Abrams brought Star Trek back to movie theaters. Does he deserve credit for something bigger than that? I don't know. Would Paramount have done the Blurays without JJTrek? Again, I don't know.

At the very least you can say his iteration of Trek has brought in new fans and raised interest in the "franchise" in general.
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Old May 23 2013, 03:52 PM   #3
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

Saved? I don't know.

But he sure made a couple of big, enjoyable movies.
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Old May 23 2013, 03:59 PM   #4
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
Did Abrams really save the franchise?
Yes.
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Old May 23 2013, 04:03 PM   #5
Warped9
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

Do we have to define franchise?

In retail a franchise is essentially more than one or two locations operating under the same name whether it's a food or restaurant chain or some other retail/service business. Here the franchise only grows or stays steady as long as customers support it.

In entertainment a franchise could be defined as more than one or two films or shows (or books) along with the tie-in merchandise. And spun off from that is the fan base that supports it. This franchise also continues only as long as the fans support it. So a question might be: are the fans an integral part of the franchise?
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Old May 23 2013, 04:05 PM   #6
Admiral Buzzkill
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

Yes. He absolutely saved it. There can be no meaningful or substantive debate on this.
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Old May 23 2013, 04:06 PM   #7
Morpheus 02
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

Maybe not saved it, but at least jumpstart it, bringing on more interest from the general public.

But probably not as much as one might hope...not sure if the next generation will get that interested in Star Trek in the way TNG did for Trek.
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Old May 23 2013, 04:06 PM   #8
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

Warped9:

I read your OP, and I respect your opinion, since I personally think there's more to you than just the typical random trufan/Abrams-hater that tends to post inane drivel. However, I'd caution you about thinking that you know more about Trek's past history than someone else only on the basis of your age. That's condescending to younger fans who may indeed know all about that history even though they may not have been around when it was happening, or participated in it.

As for a response: While you might argue that Abrams didn't "save the franchise," I'd argue that he definitely made it incredibly popular again, both with fans and casual viewers alike. And IMHO, that's the best thing that ever could have happened to Trek, being taken seriously by fans and non-fans alike. But you're correct about times having changed. Unlike in the past, catering to a relatively small niche audience will not save Star Trek. Appealing to a broad spectrum of people (and yes, even the people who crave mind-numbing action-adventure) gives Trek a chance to survive, even if it may not be what you personally want it to be.
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Old May 23 2013, 04:09 PM   #9
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
JJ didn’t save a damned thing.
First the car one and now this, you have such quotable quotes. Thank you.
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Old May 23 2013, 04:10 PM   #10
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

I think you're exaggerating the importance of the "fanbase" a little bit here.
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Old May 23 2013, 04:11 PM   #11
Warped9
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

Admiral Buzzkill wrote: View Post
Yes. He absolutely saved it. There can be no meaningful or substantive debate on this.
As long as TPTB are pulling in money even off pre-existing material (from fan support) then the business side of the franchise is still alive.

And from that as long as fans maintain interest then the franchise exists.

After ENT and before Abrams did the fans just all go away and places like the the TBBS cease operation? No, the fans were still here.
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Old May 23 2013, 04:13 PM   #12
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

2002: Nemesis is a major flop, and there are no serious plans for future Trek movies.

2005: Berman-era Trek is dead with the cancellation of Enterprise.

2009: JJ Abrams' Star Trek is a big hit.

2013: Star Trek Into Darkness is a performing a little below expectations in the US, but doing massively better than the last movie overseas.


I'd wager that if it weren't for the new movies reviving interest in Star Trek, TNG wouldn't be getting the HD treatment now.

Sounds saved to me.
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Old May 23 2013, 04:18 PM   #13
Warped9
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

Dukhat wrote: View Post
Warped9:

I read your OP, and I respect your opinion, since I personally think there's more to you than just the typical random trufan/Abrams-hater that tends to post inane drivel. However, I'd caution you about thinking that you know more about Trek's past history than someone else only on the basis of your age. That's condescending to younger fans who may indeed know all about that history even though they may not have been around when it was happening, or participated in it.
It should go without saying that my posts are my opinion. The OP was largely for setting the framework for my question as well as for the benefit of newer fans/participants who might not be totally familiar with the background. It certainly wasn't meant to be condescending nor intended as a detailed blow-by-blow account of history.

I framed my post and question in a fair minded way. If by chance someone still takes offence from it then I'm at a loss as to what else can be said.
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Old May 23 2013, 04:20 PM   #14
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

Admiral Buzzkill wrote: View Post
Yes. He absolutely saved it. There can be no meaningful or substantive debate on this.
True.

It couldn't even sustain itself on T.V. anymore, let alone put bums on seats in cinemas.

A small percentage of us still purchased the novels, but without the larger franchise sustaining screen versions, the novels were probably on borrowed time.
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Old May 23 2013, 04:23 PM   #15
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Re: Did Abrams really save the franchise?

All I know is that what Abrams brought to the franchise is far better than what I thought we'd get after the cancellation of Enterprise. I really thought we'd see CBS try to wring every last dollar possible out of the corpse by giving us either a cheap Kirk-Spock buddy comedy that made fun of the series (like The Brady Bunch/Starsky and Hutch movies) or a dark take ala Ron Moore's Battlestar Galactica (where everyone hates everyone and the Federation is some dark monstrosity).
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