Paramount Pictures has a long if somewhat complicated relationship with Star Trek which began in 1967 when the second season of The Original Series was into production under Desilu Studios, owned by beloved comedian Lucille Ball.
Star Trek was filming on Desilu’s sound stages 9 & 10 in Hollywood when the studio was acquired by conglomerate Gulf & Western and transformed into Paramount Television.
The Star Trek movies and subsequent TV incarnations, spawned under the Paramount administration, thrived in the 1980s and 1990s although Paramount itself was acquired by media conglomerate Viacom in 1994.
Come 2005, nearly four decades of Star Trek under Paramount came to a close when CBS Television Studios split off from Viacom, taking with it the rights for the franchise. Paramount Pictures, under a new Viacom entity. retained the rights to produce Star Trek movies under licence from CBS.
This brought forth the JJ Abrams reboot in 2009, which gave rise to the “Kelvin Timeline” of stories set in an alternate universe, under Paramount; while CBS is developing a new television series in the “Prime” (or original) timeline for release in 2017.
For Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary, Paramount gave fans a US$185mil (RM744mil) present in the 13th movie of the saga, Star Trek Beyond. To celebrate the occasion, the movie marketing blitz included a host of activities kicking off with Star Trek Fan Day on May 20. Fans from around the world were invited to Paramount Studios for a special fan engagement where movie director Justin Lin, producer Abrams, and main cast members shared their personal passions for 50 years of Star Trek complete with behind-the-scenes glimpses and movie clips from Star Trek Beyond.
The current Spock, Zachary Quinto, also gave an honorary toast to the late Leonard Nimoy and – together with the movie team and Nimoy’s family – unveiled a street on the Paramount Studios lot named after the great actor.
“Leonard Nimoy Way” is located on the north-west section of the studio fronting sound stages 31 & 32, where The Original Series was filmed (they were originally sound stages 9 & 10 under Desilu and renamed after the Paramount acquisition). Star Trek Fan Day itself was hosted in these historic sound stages and concluded with a Trek-themed party showcasing costumes and props from the upcoming movie.
Following early movie premieres and previews in selected countries, the marketing push for Star Trek Beyond climaxed with its world premiere on July 20 hosted at Comic-Con International: San Diego, otherwise known as SDCC.
The movie’s cast was in attendance and the event featured a gala concert of Star Trek music performed by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra with elaborate pyrotechnics delighting the 3,000 guests in attendance.
Event host Conan O’Brien joked that the fireworks consumed the entire promotional budget for the film, so there was nothing left for billboards! Star Trek Beyond was then screened in IMAX with the orchestra scoring live music for the soundtrack of the entire movie. The organisers thoughtfully provided packed food, drinks and dessert, and seat cushions plus movie memorabilia to all attendees.
For Star Trek fans, these were truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences and a fitting tribute by Paramount Pictures to the legacy of Star Trek. Here’s looking forward to the next 50 years; may it continue to go where no sci-fi franchise has gone before!