William Shatner Talks “The Motion Picture” And “The Wrath Of Khan”

“Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan” celebrates its 35th Anniversary this year and in a recent interview William Shatner sat down and shared his thoughts on why “The Motion Picture” failed and how “The Wrath of Khan” came to be.

“Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan” even after thirty-five years is still arguably the gold standard of all thirteen movies that have been made, but it came after what many may consider one of the worst Star Trek movies, “The Motion Picture”. I would argue that “Star Trek V The Final Frontier” is actually worse, but another time.

In celebration of “The Wrath of Khan’s” 35th Anniversary a re-mastered directors cut of the movie is being shown in select theaters across the country on September 10th and 13th. William Shatner, Captain Kirk himself recently sat down for an interview with Collider to talk about “Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan”.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture / Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

But during his interview Shatner also talked about why “The Motion Picture” failed at the box office and how Star Trek was given a second chance at theaters.

“So Star Trek: The Motion Picture was not well received because it was so rushed and didn’t have the final editing time. So to all intents and purposes, that was it. The reviews weren’t that great, business wasn’t that great, that was going to be the end of it.

The owner of Paramount Studios at that time whose name I can’t remember… his wife, so everybody said, “Okay, that’s it, we’ve done it. We’ve made a movie of Star Trek.” That guy’s wife said to her husband, “You’ve got to try again. It’s such a great series,” and she convinced him to bring in Harve Bennett who said, “I could make it for less,” and then he hired Nicholas Meyer, who had written a really great segment, and it was done much more efficiently, much more like a TV show. Smaller, contained, and when it opened, we were thinking, hoping, that it wouldn’t follow the same fate as the prior movie.”

Shatner was also asked if “The Wrath Of Khan” should of been the first movie made or if The Wrath of Khan’s success was due to the failure of “The Motion Picture”.

“The people heading up Paramount said, “Let’s get Robert Wise, the great director, the great editor,” he’d done so many movies for them. All those big musicals and … So then Robert Wise says, “Yes, well my goodness what a coup that is, we’re going to make a great motion picture.” Well it didn’t turn out to be a great motion picture because it lacked a humanity. It was special effects. Doug Trumbull wasn’t edited because there wasn’t time to edit the special effects. So the special effects went on too long and dragged a little here and there.

But the basic story lacked a humanity, because it was dealing with technology. Everybody fell in love with technology, which is a temptation in science fiction. You forget the human story, which is the most important thing.”

Mr. Shatner would follow up by saying that a lesson was learned by not forgetting what Star Trek was.

“So the lesson that was learned, and we were given the opportunity to apply that lesson, was don’t forget what Star Trek was originally, which was a good story.”

It’s no secret that Star Trek at least the movies have always had a perception of the odd numbered movies being the weaker movies while the even numbered movies the better, stronger ones and to some degree that’s not wrong.

Did “Wrath of Khan” succeed because “The Motion Picture” for better lack of words sucked the big one? Maybe, maybe not, but I’m willing to wager “Wrath of Khan” succeeded because it was a better-written movie. “Wrath of Khan” may have had a smaller budget compared to “The Motion Picture”, but it had the better villain and a better director.

If you would like to read Wiliam Shatner’s full interview you can check that out by clicking here Collider.

Categories: Star Trek

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