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The Force Killed Star Trek

Aug 17, 2007
For the first time in decades, there is no Star Trek tv show. There's talk of an upcoming movie, but that's still speculative. There are constant rumors as to what brought it down, but one theory growing in popularity is that the big-budget, mega-blockbuster "force" of the recent Star Wars films didn't do Trekkies any favors.

After disappearing from theaters and TV in 1983, Star Wars began challenging Paramount's greatest franchise with "Episode One The Phantom Menace."

At the time, it seems to many fans that the return Star Wars in 1999 couldn't have come at a worse time for Trekkies because it looked like it could use a boost in its Dilithium Crystals. The most recent entry in the Trek film series (Nemesis) bombed, putting the film franchise on ice.

Meanwhile, with The Next Generation, DSP and Voyager languished in syndicated repeats after wrapping with seven seasons done. Enterprise only lasted four season before it faded out. Now, the television and motion picture future of the franchise remains shrouded in rumors and pessimistic predictions.

At least part of this overall unsettling state of Federation affairs arrived thanks to The Force. If Jim Cameron is King of the World, George Lucas is Emperor of the Universe. The Phantom Menace opened to greatest hype and highest opening day box office numbers in history (grossing almost $42 million in its first two days and more than $61.8 million in its opening weekend). This critic-proof movie became more of a pop culture event than a simple Hollywood premiere. Attack of th Clones and Revenge of the Sith consistently made more than its predecessor making Star Wars into one of the most popular and powerful franchises in movie history. That kind of box office cred can easily pull attention away from Star Trek.

Perhaps there really is no box office equivalence between Star Trek grosses and Star Wars takes. Star Wars is off the chart, while Star Trek is good, but never mammoth. Still Star Wars flourishes while Star-Trek fell off the table.

If you add up the Star Wars franchise earnings at the ticket window, the six films pulled in more than $3 billion, more than the nine Trek films combined.

Star Trek also doesn't cash in as well overseas, while Star Wars imports. No Trekkie films show up on the 150 highest international grossing films of all-time. While the first three Star Wars films all made the Top 20, with a combined $1.78 billion take.

It would seem that the Federation might have to take a back seat to such galactic buzz. Or, worse, Star-Trek might finally be ready to pack up the phasers and tricorders and resign its commission as Star Wars rules the media universe.

However, the industry professionals I spoke to offered a much more optimistic look at Star-Trek's immediate future and long-term fate.

Who better to ask about all of Star Trek's tomorrows than the Franchise boss and Gene Roddenberry's heir to the throne, Rick Berman. From his offices on the Paramount lot, Berman said there was a lot of interplay between them and Star Wars that reaches beyond just this similar names.

"There's a great swapping of influences that these two univierses had on one another," Berman explained. "The success of Star Trek in syndication in the 70s made Star Wars viable in 1977. While Star Wars success led to the first Star Trek film in 1979."

Berman added, "George Lucas has said that Star Trek was an influence on him."

Over the years, the two franchises developed differently. According to Berman:

"We tend to do a lot more character driven material with Star Trek. We can build those character through hundreds of television episodes as opposed to over a course of a few films."

He immediately dismissed any idea that the revived popularity of Star Wars was a threat to Kirk, Picard and company.

"Positioning Star Trek and Star Wars as competitors is inaccurate," he said. They're not at each other's throats. They compliment each other and remain interdependent. Star Wars feeds a general boom in overall interest in all things sci-fi.
About the Author
Jordan Williams is your TV show insider giving you the inside scoop on todays hottest shows. You can find more articles and news about TV shows from eWeb TV World.
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