Did Star Wars cash in on Star Trek?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Flake, May 18, 2013.

  1. Flake

    Flake Commodore Commodore

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    I was not alive in the 70s, I was born in the mid-80s and cannot remember any of the 80s either. So I do not know the answer to this question..

    In the early to mid 1970s I believe Star Trek was very popular in North America with many people watching the re-runs in syndication and conventions starting up. I don't know just how popular it was. George Lucas has stated he went to these TREK conventions in the 1970s before he started Star Wars.

    Did it become such a phenomenon that the first big FX driven action/adventure/scifi movie would explode at the box office thanks to all this Star Trek mania? Is this what happened with Star Wars? Did it cash in on Star Trek mania?

    If Star Trek had made a movie like ST (2009) in the mid 70s would it have cashed in to the same extent that Star Wars did? (Instead of the bland and cerebral TMP, a more colourful, epic, action/adventure movie. I do like TMP though!)

    I am not starting a Star Trek vs Star Wars thread here because the answer to this may simply be NO. I am just curious what people who can remember the 70s think :)
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Oh, yes, Lucas was definitely trying to take advantage of ST's coattails. He used ST's success to sell studios on the idea that a sci-fi adventure could be profitable (as he acknolwedged not long ago in Rod Roddenberry's Trek Nation documentary), and he consciously gave his movie a name that sounded similar to Star Trek. Not to mention cribbing terminology like tractor beams and deflector shields, and near-equivalent terms like "proton torpedoes."

    It's hard to remember now, when Star Wars has become the definitive space opera for a generation, but of course before 1977 there was no SW, and ST was just about the biggest thing ever in mass-media science fiction in the United States, aside from maybe 2001 or Planet of the Apes. (Doctor Who was bigger in the UK, but had rarely been seen stateside at that point.) So it was pretty much a given that any new space opera jockeying for popular appeal would be influenced by ST.
     
  3. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    ^^ That's not what I learned. While TOS had shown that sci-fi could be profitable, George Lucas originally wanted to remake "Flash Gordon" and essentially an action-adventure fairy-tale space opera kind of thing. Fox greenlighted the project based on their success with the "Planet of the Apes" movies and because George Lucas had made the blockbuster "American Graffiti", not because of Star Trek.

    Admittedly, there are crossovers in technical terminology but I think George Lucas was simply smart enough to use terminology he didn't need to explain as audiences understood perfectly what a "deflector (shield)" does, as in this case Star Trek had already and conveniently established its function.

    One thing Star Wars was doing at the expense of Star Trek was cannibalizing fandom (many Trekkies turned Warriors). This and stealing Star Trek's "thunder" was probably what led to the animosities and this stupid Star Trek vs. Star Wars theme.

    Meyer-Burnett captured that spirit of competition very well in the beginning of his highly recommendable "Free Enterprise" film (an imaginary biopic of two trekkers that actually meet the real William Shatner).

    I do think that this film from 2009 that has been mentioned, has more in common with Star Wars than Star Trek. I consider it incompatible with the visions of Gene Roddenberry, and do believe many Trek fans of the 1970's would have felt the same. Just my 0.02 $

    Bob
     
  4. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    Let's not kid ourselves, at the time TOS was on it had many vocal and devoted fans. However it was still cancelled because of falling ratings. It wasn't something huge in pop culture when it was on, that only came later after the countless reruns and movies.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Well, yes, but it was definitely a huge hit in syndication by the time Star Wars went into production. Paramount had already spent a few years trying to bring ST back as either a motion picture or the anchor series of a Paramount TV network (just as Voyager later was) since before SW came out. SW's success just increased the scope and budget of the project.
     
  6. Anji

    Anji Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Trek was on in syndication and a big hit. Lucas also rode the popularity of the Apollo Moon missions.

    Oh, yeah, he did and he ripped off a lot of Native American cultures and events in world history tell his story.

    Very little original material in Star Wars.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, that's a given. Lucas built his whole career on homage and pastiche. The only reason he created SW was because he couldn't get the film rights to Flash Gordon. And what he created instead was a hodgepodge of references to old adventure serials, war movies, Westerns, and the like -- though what made it fresh, at least in the original film, was the more modern, irreverent, affectionately deconstructive approach he took.
     
  8. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    Insert references to Kirby's New Gods and Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress here....
     
  9. E-DUB

    E-DUB Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yes it did, and then Star Trek returned the favor. (Almost comparable to the American and Soviet space programs boosting each other.)
     
  10. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

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    That's why I want space Sci-Fi to return: more means we get more quality stuff (and more bad stuff, of course).
     
  11. sbk1234

    sbk1234 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's my understanding that they monitored ratings differently back then. Had it been done as it's done today, it would have been shown that Star Trek had the demographics needed, and would have stayed on the air.
     
  12. EliyahuQeoni

    EliyahuQeoni Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, but your statement that "many Trekkies turned Warriors" as if one can't possibly be a devoted fan of both is the kind of binary thinking that leads to Trek v Wars arguments. Its just silly, really. I grew up on Star Trek, fell in love with Star Wars in 1977 and became a devout Dr Who fan in the mid-80s. All at the same time. Becoming a fan of SW or DW didn't mean I was no longer a Trek Fan, or was a lesser fan somehow.
     
  13. E-DUB

    E-DUB Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Agreed. One can like both Star Trek and Star Wars. One can like both Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9. However, no one can like both the Munsters and the Addams Family.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Right, it's ridiculous to say you can't be a fan of both Star Trek and Star Wars. They don't even occupy the same genre niche. ST is space-opera science fiction, while SW is epic space fantasy. Each offers things the other doesn't.
     
  15. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    I think it's an exaggeration to say that Star Wars "cashed in on" Star Trek. As a film, Star Wars preceded any Star Trek film by over two years, and it followed TOS by almost a decade. That's not what "cashing in on" means.
     
  16. sbk1234

    sbk1234 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Rather than "cashing in" on the other, I think both benefitted from each other's popularity at different times, allowing each to thrive over the years.
     
  17. Flake

    Flake Commodore Commodore

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    I think the consensus seems to be that no, Star Wars did not cash in on Star Trek. It was infact a revolutionary film that would have broke out regardless of Trek existing or not, but Trek may have laid some important foundations that enabled Star Wars to flourish and George Lucas was influenced by Star Trek in some areas.
     
  18. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    "Capitalized on the popularity of Star Trek" might be a better phrase.

    SW was/is a great thing on its own, but Trek was HUGE, mid-Seventies.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I thought that was basically what "cashed in on" meant. Perhaps I'm missing something about how the phrase is used.
     
  20. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    I always thought there was a connotation of gratuitously following on the coattails of something, as, for example, all the grade B space films that came out in the wake of Star Wars. TMP wouldn't really qualify either, in that regard, but—arguably—original BSG might.