Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Star Wars logo

Star Wars is a film and television franchise, created by George Lucas. From the very inception of Star Wars in 1977, there has been a definite rivalry between the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises, which Rod Roddenberry – son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry – learned of through first-hand experience, though he was a much bigger fan of Star Wars than Star Trek during his childhood. His father approved of Star Wars, considering it "fun" with "nothing wrong" about it. In 1986, he commented, "I like Star Wars. It was the young King Arthur growing up and... slaying the evil emperor, finally."

Gene Roddenberry had actually viewed himself the 1977 by Lucas written/directed/produced first movie installment several times a few months after its release. When the television series Star Trek: Phase II, then in development, was upgraded on 21 October 1977 to the theatrical feature Star Trek: The Motion Picture because of Star Wars, Roddenberry, accompanied by then still Director Robert Collins, made several trips to the cinema to get a feel of what they wanted their movie to look like visually. (Star Trek Movie Memories, pp. 78, 83) Roddenberry himself had stated in 1979, "At the time Star Wars came out and turned box offices into money-making machines, Paramount said, and rightfully so, "Good Lord, what are we doing making a television show out of it, when we have what is really the original property of this type?" This, of course, was what I had been trying to tell them all along, through all these starts and stops. I saw one of those great, long lines around the block fo Star Wars one time, and I recognized face after face from Star Trek conventions. There were so many Trek fans, we could have held a convention right there in the parking lot. Eventually I saw Star Wars myself. It was a lot of fun. and I enjoyed it, but I kept wishing it was Star Trek up there on that big screen. (Return to Tomorrow - The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, pp.47-48)

As history has shown, The Motion Picture never came close to the phenomenal success the first Star Wars film had, both in critical as well as financial terms, which did not came as a surprise to then PhaseII/Motion Picture Production Illustrator Mike Minor at all, "I love science fiction, but it's proved itself to be costly, damaging in human terms, costly in terms of money and time, and it is just much of a bankroll to bet too often. And the only person who seems to know how to do it right now, forgive me, is George Lucas, because I firmly believe Steven Spielberg [note: director of the contemporary science fiction movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, released after the upgrade decision, which the Roddenberry/Collins pair also screened several times for the same purpose] hasn't the slightest idea what storytelling is all about. He's proved that rather conclusively." (Return to Tomorrow - The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 165)

Before devising the origins of Star Wars, George Lucas attended a few Star Trek conventions. When interviewed by Rod Roddenberry in 2011, Lucas recalled, "I started writing Star Wars sort of in the heyday of the syndication part of Star Trek. I think the thing I was attracted to the most about Star Trek is that it completely got rid of all the mundane, boring angle of real space. And just said, 'Well, let's just go out and go where no one else dared to go' [....] Star Trek and Star Wars are not reality shows; they're imagination shows. The story is really the thing that makes it work." Lucas went on to point out that portraying the stories of both Star Wars and Star Trek was limited by resources such as the amount of budgets and technology available. Comparing Star Wars to Star Trek, he noted, "What I was doing was more space opera than sort of science fiction. Star Trek was more sort of intellectual mystery. It wasn't action oriented. Star Wars was action oriented." Lucas also acknowledged that both Star Wars and Star Trek have affected many millions of people. He doesn't put much stock in the fan-based competitiveness between Star Wars and Star Trek, remarking, "I couldn't even contemplate what would happen if you put the Enterprise up against the Millennium Falcon. You know, it's an intellectual exercise which, you know, could have any outcome you want." (Trek Nation)

At the 2016 Las Vegas Star Trek convention, William Shatner attributed the existence of The Motion Picture and all subsequent projects to Star Wars' popularity. [1] Yet, Shatner's assertion has to be seen in a somewhat more nuanced light; attempts to revitalize the live-action Star Trek franchise preceded the premiere of the original Star Wars movie in 1977 – Roddenberry's abovementioned "starts and stops" – , eventually resulting in the Phase II television project. Nevertheless, Shatner had a solid point in his assessment in that the phenomenal success at the box-office of Star Wars, considered a fluke, and thus disregarded at first by Paramount, became instrumental in the studio's eventual decision to upgrade the television project into a major theatrical movie project.

20th Century Fox was the distributor of the first six Star Wars movies, though they only co-owned the first film along with Lucas' own Lucasfilm Ltd., until The Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfilm Ltd. on October 30, 2012. [2]

Star Trek in Star Wars Edit

Keldon class in Star Wars

The Keldon-class starship

In Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 1 Episode 2 "Rising Malevolence" from 2008, at time index 02:37 a Keldon-class ship can be seen on a tactical monitor behind General Grievous.

During development on Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, George Lucas took inspiration from Star Trek, recalling that, like Lucas himself, Gene Roddenberry initially hadn't been entirely comfortable with developing a series and refining or pulling together the vision of a fictional world. (The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film, pp. 245-246)

Star Wars in Star Trek Edit

Akira and Millennium Falcon

Millennium Falcon cameo in Star Trek: First Contact

R2-D2 cameo in Star Trek

R2-D2's cameo in Star Trek

R2-D2 cameo in Star Trek Into Darkness

R2-D2's cameo in Star Trek Into Darkness

The 1982 theatrical trailer for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, included on the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (The Director's Edition) DVD release, features sound effects from Star Wars in the segment where the USS Enterprise and the USS Reliant do battle. Conceivably this had been an in-joke of ILM, the VFX company (see below) which has served both franchises as such, starting with The Wrath of Khan for Star Trek.

A scene in DS9: "Valiant", involving the USS Valiant battling a Jem'Hadar battleship, was intended to be evocative of the Battle of Yavin in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. "That whole sequence, that technical thing that they found, it's all a deliberate homage to Star Wars," said Ronald D. Moore. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 61)

Some aspects of Star Trek were deliberately not meant to have a Star Wars style. For instance, Makeup Supervisor Michael Westmore once described the background aliens in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as being "basically within Gene Roddenberry's realm of not going into a Star Wars-type of creature." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 1, p. 28)

Crossovers Edit

Industrial Light & MagicEdit

Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), a visual effects (VFX) and animation company, was formed in 1975 as part of Lucasfilm Ltd. for the express purpose of realizing the optical and miniature effects for the first Star Wars film, continuing to do so for all the subsequent ones. The company has contributed effects work to nine of the thirteen Star Trek films in addition to "Encounter at Farpoint". Many of ILM's VFX staffers have worked on both franchises.

Franchise performances Edit

Having become the most successful science fiction franchise in media history, it was ironic in hindsight that the Hollywood studios United Artists and Universal Studios declined the opportunity to become part of it when they were approached by Lucas in the mid-1970s with the proposition for what was to become the first Star Wars movie installment of the same title. [4] United Artists was ended after its disastrous 1980 western Heaven's Gate; Universal Studios did ultimately manage to produce the far less successful Star Wars-"inspired" science fiction franchise Battlestar Galactica of its own.

Adjusted for inflation, the original Star Wars movie has become the second all-time highest grossing movie in history, only surpassed by the 1939 movie Gone with the Wind. By early 2018, it had been joined in the top two hundred by all the other up-until-then produced Star Wars films, including the eighth and nineth ones, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016, the first spin-off movie) and The Last Jedi (2017), whereas none of the Star Trek films have made the list. [5] In absolute dollars, four Star Wars movies, including Rogue One, have as of 2018 passed the mythical US$1 billion mark, The Force Awakens even joining the very exclusive ranks as the third of only four US$2 billion plus worldwide grossing films. With Star Trek Into Darkness stuck over two hundred places below at US$467 million as the all-time best box-office performing Star Trek movie, no Star Trek movie has managed to pass the US$500 million mark, with only the three alternate reality films grossing more than US$150 million. [6] The commercial failure of the 2018 second spin-off movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story, stuck at US$393, marked the first financial setback for the movie franchise, whereas the Star Trek movie franchise had already had at least four (see: Star Trek films: Performance summary).

While the gross box-office takes of the Star Trek movie franchise, US$2.2 billion as of 2018, are relatively well know, it are the gross revenues from the other franchise elements that remain shrouded in mystery. Reporter Mark A. Altman disclosed that the entire Star Trek franchise – which, contrary to the Star Wars franchise, is otherwise loathe to report on the other revenue streams themselves, apart from the box office takes – , had already passed the US$1 billion dollar mark in total studio revenues by 1993 (Cinefantastique, Vol 24 #3/4, p. 16), which was upped to US$2 billion gross in Entertainment Weekly's Special Star Trek Issue of 18 January 1995, implying a rough fifty-fifty split at that time between box-office takes and other franchise revenues. In his 1998 book A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager (p. 55), Stephen Edward Poe cited a Los Angeles Times article, that claimed nearly US$2 billion franchise revenues in retail sales alone. In December 1998 the Los Angeles Times reported a US$3.5 billion aggregate customer merchandise turnover, which did not include the box office takes and their derivative home media formats sales [7], whereas Richard Arnold has reported a US$10 billion total turnover in July 2016, which constituted a franchise total up until then, including box office takes and home media format sales, and thus implying a roughly 80/20 split between all merchandise and box office takes – Star Trek Beyond was just released at the time of Arnold's report, its total box office take therefore not yet known. [8]

Despite the reluctance of the Star Trek franchise to divulge more detailed figures itself, but with revenues undoubtedly running in the billions over the decades, Star Trek has become one of the most successful media franchises in history. Yet, it is the financial success of the younger Star Wars franchise, a franchise rival right from the start, and sporting far fewer movie or television productions, that is truly staggering, dwarfing that of Star Trek. Shortly before the release of the seventh movie installment in late 2015, gross aggregates were divulged by its franchise; it consisted of US$4.3 billion in box-office takes, US$12 billion in toy sales alone (!), and US$10.7 billion for the other franchise elements, including home media format sales. [9] The four movies released afterwards have in the timespan 2015-2018 more than doubled the box-office takes on its own.

It should be noted that the box-office takes were realized over six movies, as opposed to Star Trek's twelve at that time (2015), meaning that on average a Star Wars movie had performed nearly five times better than a Star Trek movie. This was already abundantly exemplified by the very first, 1977 Star Wars installment, grossing US$775 million against a budget of US$11 million worldwide [10], as opposed to The Motion Picture's US$139 million and US$35 million respectively. While the runaway success of the first Star Wars movie, considered a fluke at first by Paramount, was a major influence in the decision to produce The Motion Picture in the first place, it was also a major source of Paramount's chagrin over the Motion Picture's performance, becoming the main reason for them to consider the movie a failure in public.

The discrepancies in financial performance between the two franchises, also reflected themselves in the financial fortunes of its two respective creators. Well into his sixties, Gene Roddenberry only became affluent because of Star Trek in the last decade of his life, while George Lucas was already a multi-millionaire by the time he original Star Trek trilogy was completed, yet to turn forty, moving up into the exclusive ranks of multi-billionaires at age 68, when he sold his Lucasfilm company to The Walt Disney Company in 2012 for US$4 billion. In all fairness though, contrary to Star Trek, Star Wars became a run-away success right from the bat and that Lucas "lucked out" in a big way. In 1976/1977 Lucas needed additional funding to complete his first, original Star Wars installment, and offered to sell his production partner, 20th Century Fox (the Hollywood studio that had picked up his pitch in the mid-1970s), the merchandising and licensing rights. Fox declined, and the rights have remained were they had been ever since, Lucasfilm, with Lucas paying for the shortfall by foregoing on his, and some of his closest associates, salaries at the time.

Whereas, as per Herbert Solow, Paramount Pictures' acquisition of Star Trek was "one of the most spectacular business moves in entertainment history" (NBC: America's Network, p. 220), Fox' refusal was assuredly one of its most spectacular blunders, starkly reinforced by the Lucasfilm sale to Disney; With a new, highly anticipated and promising third trilogy in the making as of 2015, Fox subsequently missed out entirely on its take of the box-office and home media sales revenues. How huge this missed take was, became already apparent on 21 December 2015 when newscaster CNN revealed the opening box-office take of the seventh installment, The Force Awakens, at US$518 million worldwide, discounting the second largest theatrical movie market in the world, China, where the movie premiered later and obliterating the previous weekend record, held by Jurassic World only achieved in the previous summer. The opening weekend box-office take alone for this one movie, already accounted for over a quarter all then twelve Star Trek features had generated in their entire runs. [11]

Documentaries Edit

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