Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a 1979 American science fiction film released by Paramount Pictures. It is the first film based on Star Trek, and a sequel to the Star Trek television series. The film is set in the twenty-third century, when a mysterious and immensely powerful alien cloud called V'Ger approaches Earth, destroying everything in its path. Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) assumes command of his previous starship—the recently refitted USS Enterprise—to lead it on a mission to save the planet and determine V 'Ger 's origins.
When the original television series was cancelled in 1969, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry lobbied Paramount to continue the franchise through a film. The success of the series in syndication convinced the studio to begin work on a feature film in 1975. A series of writers attempted to craft a suitably epic script, but the attempts did not satisfy Paramount, so the studio scrapped the project in 1977. Paramount instead planned on returning the franchise to its roots with a new television series, Star Trek: Phase II. The box office success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind convinced Paramount that science fiction films other than Star Wars could do well at the box office, so the studio cancelled production of Phase II and resumed its attempts at making a Star Trek film. In 1978, Paramount assembled the largest press conference held at the studio since the 1950s to announce that double Academy Award–winning director Robert Wise would direct a $15 million film adaptation of the television series.
With the cancellation of Phase II, writers rushed to adapt its planned pilot episode, "In Thy Image", into a film script. Constant revisions to the story and shooting script continued, to the extent of hourly script updates on shooting dates. The Enterprise was modified inside and out; costume designer Robert Fletcher provided new uniforms and production designer Harold Michelson fabricated new sets. Jerry Goldsmith composed the score, beginning an association with Star Trek that would continue until 2002. When the original contractors for the optical effects proved unable to complete their tasks in time, effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull was given carte blanche to meet the December 1979 release date. The film came together only days before the premiere; Wise took the just-completed film to its Washington, D.C., opening, but always felt that the theatrical version was a rough cut of the film he wanted to make.
Released in North America on December 7, 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture received mixed reviews from critics, many of whom faulted the film for its lack of action and over-reliance on special effects. The final production cost ballooned to approximately $46 million. The film earned $139 million worldwide, falling short of studio expectations but enough for Paramount to propose a cheaper sequel. Roddenberry was forced out of creative control for The Wrath of Khan. In 2001, Wise oversaw a director's cut for a special DVD release of the film, with remastered audio, tightened and added scenes, and new computer-generated effects.
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