Abrams: Star Wars AND Star Trek

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies XI+' started by TrekToday, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, and there were, what - twelve of us in the United States? :lol:

    Maybe I should have said they created the skiffy geek demographic as something the studios cared about. Through the fifties and sixties we got mainly low-budget, though very imaginative, movies with the occasional ambitious film by a director who commanded some attention. 2001 exists because Kubrick wanted to do it, not because the studio believed that there were millions of fantasy-loving kids out here waiting to make them rich. Charlton Heston's attachment to Planet Of The Apes throughout its early development lent it studio cachet as well.

    BTW, despite the success of the first Planet Of The Apes film nothing about the response to it caused 20th to take special notice - they planned and budgeted the sequels on the long-standing premise that the first film in such a series would be the most successful. The rule of thumb was that each film would make about sixty percent of the box office of its predecessor. A self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps, but the invention of the modern sf-fantasy "franchise" that now dominates the industry would wait on The Empire Strikes Back.

    The really interesting anomaly during that era was Forbidden Planet. For some reason MGM made a big-budget investment in a purely sf film produced and directed by no one of note and starring B-movie actors.

    After Star Wars - and cemented by E.T. - the studios increasingly became effects-laden fantasy factories. Publishers also became a lot more interested in tie-in merchandising after the novelization of Star Wars sold something like five million copies in six months for Ballantine/Del Rey (and of course, the Star Fleet Technical Manual). Glossy oversized trade paperbacks documenting the making of movies like Alien became frequent. Gulf & Western took the Star Trek license back from Bantam, brought it in house and in the decade following ST:TMP the Pocketbook paperback division of their publishing arm started to generate Star Trek novels on a regular schedule to feed a steadily growing demand.

    Star Trek conventions existed at first because a group of New York trek fans who worked with sf conventions like LunaCon got tired of being a bit unwelcome at the kind of cons that had existed for several decades. SF conventions in those days were mainly about prose writing and writers - the whole TV/movie track was an afterthought at most of them. I remember watching friends who'd been involved with the sf subculture for many years (all older than me, of course) watch with dismay in the late 1970s as more and more fans of visual media began to crowd the cons, spurred on by the explosion of movie and TV productions that followed Star Wars.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013
  2. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, scifi movies definitely hit the A-List after Star Wars and Close Encounters, but I always like to remind people that, you know, movies and fandom existed before 1977. (This is, I admit, something of a hobby-horse of mine.) And I seem to recall there being more than twelve hardcore fans just in Seattle back in the day! :)

    Plus, the studios occasionally dabbled in A-list "prestige" science fiction pictures beyond Forbidden Planet. I'm thinking films like 2001, The Andromeda Strain, Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, Silent Running, Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, Soylent Green, and maybe even Logan's Run.

    Although, of course, these were wildly outnumbered by drive-in B-movie stuff like The Land That Time Forgot and The Green Slime.

    (This concludes our trip down SciFi Memory Lane.)
     
  3. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    As far as I knew in those days three people in the world were watching Star Trek and we all sat at the same lunch table.;)

    Yeah, they "dabbled," as you say - but if you look at most of those projects they had some mainstream or conventional points of interest. They didn't get made because anyone thought that there was an under served science fiction audience out here. Forbidden Planet, as I said, was a movie that seemed to have no raison d'etre whatever other than to make an expensive science fiction film for its own sake; that's why it stands out as remarkable.

    The Andromeda Strain was based on and leveraged a best-selling thriller by Michael Crichton. No Ace Double stocked back in the sf paperback section; everyone knew what that movie was before the cameras rolled. Most reviewers never used the term "science fiction" for the novel and it wasn't packaged or marketed as genre sf, somewhat to the annoyance of some folks in the sf community (a common complaint throughout the Seventies among skiffy writers and fans would be authors who were "clearly writing sf" but eschewed the sobriquet of "science fiction writer" and the category itself. Kurt Vonnegut was the Devil himself to these guys).

    2001 - A-list director driving the project. What do Soylent Green, The Omega Man and Planet Of The Apes have in common? A certain A-lister fascinated with this stuff who made them marketable to a presumably mainstream audience (by contrast Walter Pidgeon was the most well-known actor in Forbidden Planet and his glory days were behind him; he was actually doing television at the time, that undiscovered country from whose bourn no actor returned).

    Fahrenheit 451
    - low budget European film. The Illustrated Man - sadly, a bomb.

    The most interesting movie in that list to me, in this context, is Logan's Run. In 1975 the one media-savvy, movie-obsessed guy in the U of MD. Science Fiction Society was telling us that the industry thinking was that science fiction was, finally, going to be the Next Big Thing and that a movie coming out next year, Logan's Run, was the horse they were betting on. It would be the break-out hit that would launch the surge.

    The wrong movie and a year early. Still, someone out there was on to something at last. :lol:
     
  4. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, I think we're mostly on the same page here. I guess it depends on what you meant by "skiffy movie geekdom."

    Speaking of novelizations, what you said about the Star Wars paperback is all true, but I can't resist pointing out that movie novelizations date back to the silent days. There were novelizations of The Thief of Baghdad (1924), The Jazz Singer, King Kong, etcetera, and, prior to Star Wars, all sorts of B-movie stuff like Phase IV and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. I'm not sure any of them ever hit the bestseller list, but they must have been making money since publishers have been printing them since forever. (As I recall, the novelization of The Omen was also something of a publishing phenomenon, about a year before Star Wars.)

    And then, of course, there was Asimov's novelization of Fantastic Voyage. (Hmm. I probably should have mentioned Fantastic Voyage when I was reeling off all those A-list scifi flicks before.)

    I liked your line about the lunch table, btw. Sounds about right. I met my oldest friend because she spotted me reading a Doc Savage paperback in junior high. "Ohmigod, you know about Doc Savage?"
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013
  5. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I didn't encounter a "she" with any connection or interest in sf until I was in college. She was gorgeous, really friendly - and dating the aforementioned too-cool film guy in the SF Society. :lol:

    Yeah, I read novelizations of movies before Star Wars (never actually read that one); what I remember was that it was breaking sales records for a paperback at the time - knocked Passages off the number one spot on the racks for the first time in about a hundred years.

    Unless I'm mistaken, the Star Wars novelization was actually published by Ballantine a year or so before the movie opened - with a cover composed of several of Ralph McQuarrie's early character drawings of R2-D2, etc. Of course the sales didn't take off until the summer of 1977.

    EDIT:

    I looked around and here's the cover for the original publication of the novelization in 1976:


    http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20061019024912/starwars/images/b/bc/StarWarsNovelization.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013
  6. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Admiral

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    We had a handful of "she's" in my college sf club--and, yes, they pretty much had their pick of the guys! :)
     
  7. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I was engaged by the time I met her anyway, so it was, ah, academic. Years later my SO insisted that skiffiness was clearly hereditary and dominant because she was surrounded by very short fans despite not carrying the gene herself. ;)
     
  8. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You cats are making me feel obscenely young.
     
  9. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    You are. That's why we are so much wiser.
     
  10. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    No comment ;).
     
  11. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Admiral

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    As opposed to us feeling obscenely old. :)

    I think you win!
     
  12. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, at least when you were younger Star Trek had a bright future beyond action movies in a separate continuity and sporadic novel releases. I'm in the wrong generation for this fandom.
     
  13. The Mirrorball Man

    The Mirrorball Man Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Nevertheless, you seem to take great enjoyment from your predicament. So it worked out fine in the end.
     
  14. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, the Typhon Pact novels came through the post today so my appetite for new Trek will be fulfilled for a little while yet.
     
  15. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Admiral

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    Um, when I was younger, all we had were the 79 original episodes being rerun constantly in syndication, a short-lived cartoon series, and constant vague rumors that maybe there might be a new movie or TV show someday . . . if Roddenberry wasn't busy with The Questor Tapes, Genesis II, Spectre, etc. Who could've dreamed that someday we would looking forward to a twelth STAR TREK movie . . . and that ST novels would coming out every month like clockwork?

    Compared to the seventies, we're living the dream! :)


    (Seriously, I'm not sure what you meant by "sporadic" with regards to the novels. There's been at least one a month, every month, for years now.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013
  16. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I was referring to the late 80s but I see your point. I just wish I was old enough to have experienced TNG S1-ENT S4 properly. And I don't even like TNG S1 :p.

    I was thinking from a Niner perspective. There are no doubt lots of other excellent Trek novels coming out but I never know who's recommendation to trust. Fans tend not to care too much about the prose.
     
  17. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    You have no realistic idea of what Star Trek's future might be. None at all.

    What we knew in the 1970s was that a dead failed TV show was a dead failed TV show, and while we kept campaigning and hoping for something, until around 1976 no one had any real reason to believe that anything was going to happen with Star Trek.

    I guarantee you that no one was saying "I can't wait until the day when there are seven hundred hours of Trek for fans to obsess and argue over and be pissed off about - that's the future worth living for!"

    Hell, maybe that's why younger fans are so quick to complain about everything. I certainly do think that skiffy fans are much more critical of Hollywood's current fantasy films than I could imagine being. When I was a kid or young adult the idea of, say, a Green Lantern film as extravagant and exciting as the one that disappointed so many people a couple of years ago would have been beyond all expectations.
     
  18. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Maybe not but I do think it is inevitable there will be another TV series. It'd guarantee that the relevant people have at least been thinking about it.

    I'd really like to see a modern animated Trek series. They could have more interesting alien designs, without having to consider budget and resorting to forehead bumps.
     
  19. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Admiral

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    Nobody did, but we were so starved for STAR TREK that we watched it anyway! :)

    But, yeah, the idea that Star Trek had a glorious future ahead of it would have been sheer wishful thinking back in the day.

    Maybe that's why us old-timers aren't so traumatized at the prospect of Trek getting reinvented and rebooted every few decades--and tend to roll our eyes when the latest round of hand-wringing breaks out. We've gone through all of this before . . . .

    "What? They're bringing STAR TREK back without Kirk and Spock? Starring some bald guy and a robot? That's it, STAR TREK is ruined forever!"

    "Deep Space Nine? What, they're not even on a starship, they're just boldly sitting in one place? That's not STAR TREK! Roddenberry would never stand for it!"

    "Voyager? That's not STAR TREK, that's LOST IN SPACE. It's official: STAR TREK is dead to me!"

    "Enterprise? Who the hell is this Archer dude? Canon violation!"

    The more things change . . . .
     
  20. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I don't think age should be an excuse for dismissing anybody's views.