Stardate: 69852.2 (May 20, 2016 by the Gregorian calendar). Location: Paramount Studios in Hollywood, CA. It was finally time for the mysterious Star Trek Beyond fan event. For days prior, the Facebook feed of any Trekkie was filled with excited announcements of fellow fans winning tickets. But no one knew exactly what this event would entail. Despite the rapidly approaching July release date, PR for this film had been oddly light, with only a single trailer so far to whet appetites. Speculation was running high. Attendees to the event would undoubtedly get to see a new trailer, but what exactly would this fan celebration encompass?
At the 6:00 pm start time for check-in, there was already a pretty big group of anxious fans lining up outside the Gower St entrance to Paramount studios. After filling out a release, waiting, and some confusion we were finally led through the entrance, had ID’s checked, and those 21+ obtained blue wristbands. From there, we turned in our releases, picked up lanyards, and headed back through the studios to the event area.
Speculation was still running rampant as no one really seemed to know what was going on. Were we going to go inside? Were we going to be sitting on the bleachers past the large black backdrop next to us? What was happening? Did we just see Chris Pine peak outside? Even the numerous Paramount staff dressed in black suits had few answers. So we milled about, chatting with other fans, and gradually inching towards the Stage 31 doors as more time passed.
By this point the lack of crowd control was beginning to get concerning. Were the doors just going to open and then we’d all push through, trying to jockey for the best position? Yes, that was exactly what happened. Almost. Instead of entering through the double doors we’d been edging towards, a metal roll-up door off to the left suddenly ascending and people started moving inside. We’d picked the wrong door! Oh well. Nothing to do but follow the crowd.
Inside Stage 31
As the somewhat smooshed and impatient Trekkies moved inexorably through the opening, we found ourselves within a corridor set piece that could have been lifted off the Enterprise. Through the pulsating lights we went, and emerged into a large circular room filled with chairs and lined with viewscreens, centered around a small stage with a few chairs. Then began more waiting. “The presentation will begin momentarily.” Uh-huh. Sure. We all knew this game. We were their captives, it’s not like we were going anywhere.
Finally, the lights dimmed and the view screens came alive, playing clips of various celebrities talking about what Star Trek meant to them, when they first watched it, or simply congratulation for the 50th anniversary. Once that was over, out walked the host, who turned out to be none other than the recently unemployed Adam Savage (of Mythbusters fame)! Personally, I was as excited to see him as I was any of the Trek actors.
He introduced the event and explained what the “50 in 50” thing we’d seen meant. “Just so everyone understands, 50 in 50 refers to a video segment we’re going to ask people to record of their most memorable moments of Star Trek over the last 50 years in 50 seconds.”
JJ Abrams and Justin Lin
Then, out walked the producer, JJ Abrams. After a few quips about the futuristic stools they were sitting on, they moved onto discussing what a momentous occasion the 50th anniversary was. JJ: “I was born the same year Star Trek was, and I know how old I feel…so the idea this thing endures is incredible, and a real honor to be a part of it.” He talked about how he had not been a fan of Star Trek before (as many of us know), but how Justin Lin, the director, had been a fan from the very beginning and had been able to use that depth of appreciation for the benefit of the movie.
Obviously, the next person to be introduced was Justin Lin! He received a more enthusiastic welcome than had Abrams, who some of the Trekkies in the room probably felt lukewarm at best about.
Savage: “We have actually pulled Justin out of the edit suite, you’re trying to lock it?”
Lin: “Locking it tonight.”
Savage: “Tonight…so what we’re doing here is wasting your time from finishing the film.”
Lin described the experience of stepping out from editing into the environment of this room as surreal, as well as was the chance to direct Star Trek as a life long fan.
Abrams and Lin address the Axanar lawsuit
The conversation then took an unexpected turn as Abrams brought up the hopeful fan film Axanar and the recent lawsuit brought against them by the studios.
“And Justin…he could tell this story, but…was sort of outraged by this as a longtime fan and we started talking about it and realized this was not, you know, an appropriate way to deal with the fans. The fans should be celebrating this thing, like you’re saying right now, we all fans of star trek are a part of this world, so you went to the studio to stop this lawsuit, and now, within the next few weeks, it will be announced this is going away, and they’ll be able to work on this…”
His last few words were drowned out by the applause that broke out. This is hopefully news for the supporters of Axanar, but nothing will be over until the final legal word. There is sure to be more to come on this front.
Savage turned to Lin and inquired about a surprise he had in store. They then revealed a limited edition poster that was definitely reminiscent of the one for the Motion Picture. A bit more discussion about Lin’s love for Star Trek and what a personal opportunity directing this movie was for him -a dream come true- but then came something that was truly exciting for the audience.
Yes, Star Trek Beyond was going to debut at Comic-con and the premier would be in San Diego on the 20th, but for the first time ever it would be an IMAX outdoor screening, with a live orchestra! You all know how amazing Star Trek soundtracks can sound with an orchestra. And most importantly, everyone in the audience was going to get credentials to go to the premiere. That really brought out some enthusiastic applause.
A neat behind the scenes video followed after Abrams and Lin left the stage. While pretty cool, it was overall a fairly typical presentation. However, it did reveal that there would be 50 new unique aliens for the 50th, and had some really interesting shots of the practical effects. I look forward to seeing how they will carry this out!
Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban
Then, on to what many were waiting for…out came Karl Urban (McCoy), Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock), all dressed in well fitted pants and jackets. They talked about the usual topics, like the Spock/McCoy dynamic, and then it was on to some audience questions.
Audience Member: “So we just got the news that the movie is going to screen at Comic-con. Are you guys going?”
Pine: “I haven’t got an invitation.”
Someone in the audience: “Are you kidding me?”
Urban: “Comic con is full of disease and danger wrapped in darkness…”
The rest of his words were drowned out by audience laughter as he spun around in his chair with a stupid grin on his face. Too true man, too true. You have to love it when an actor actually seems to be having a good time at these events.
More scripted conversation about the difference between filming in LA like the last two movies vs this one in Vancouver (Urban: It was like a fraternity… we were all forced to hang out with each other), their favorite parts of filming (Quinto: Getting to spend time with these people *gestures to Pine and Urban*), you know, nothing out of the ordinary, especially if you’ve ever been to a panel at a convention.
On to a little bit of trivia, led by actor and producer Scott Vance! How would you have fared?
“On Star Trek the Next Generation, what is the name of Data’s cat?”
Okay, pretty easy. Spot
“What was in Star Trek II, the Wrath of Khan, what was the prefix code that lowered the shields of the USS Reliance?”
Oh no, uhhh…this is harder. I really didn’t know. After several people gave wrong answers, turns out it was 16309.
“In Star Trek IV, the Voyage Home, what were the names of the whales?”
Easy again. George and Gracie
“In the Animated Series episode, the “Counter-Clock Incident”, who was the first captain?”
Sorry little girl, it wasn’t Pike. Actually Robert April.
“Was was the name of the homeless shelter run and organized by Edith Keeler in the original series episode ‘City of the Edge of Forever’?”
Oooh. Uhm, something-street mission. 21st Street Mission
Next bit was a video from Stephen Colbert where he talked about his love for Star Trek and Leonard Nimoy, which then led into a tribute video for Nimoy, filled with lots of emotions and heartfelt sentiments about the impact he’d had.
Leonard Nimoy Way
Turns out, our next step would be to head outside to the bleachers we’d seen earlier! It was time for a ceremony to the name the street outside the stage as “Leonard Nimoy Way”. Once again, we shuffled through the tunnel/corridor without much direction, headed outside into the cold, and started filling up the bleachers from top to bottom. I definitely regretted not grabbing that jacket from my car earlier.
Zachary Quinto stood up to speak (and so did everyone in the bleachers trying to get a picture of him!) and lead the toast, and while it was nice, this part of the event was quickly over. In fact, some of us barely noticed when we were supposed to do the toast. But oh well, it was time for what we’d been waiting for. The trailer!
Everyone proceeded to shuffle down the bleachers with predictable chaos as some decided to skip the steps and just climb down the middle. As the studio was trying to keep a tight wrap on the footage they were going to show us, we all had to put our phones in soft cases that would stay locked until released afterwards. This was performed by silver bikini and green body paint wearing women, which seemed both somewhat appropriate and a little out of place as a tired trope.
Hundreds of Trekkies piled inside a large open room with a huge screen on one end, standing practically shoulder to shoulder as we excitedly waited to see the new trailer. As Simon Pegg could not be at the vent because he had another filming commitment, a recorded message from him played before the trailer.
By now, you’ve either seen the trailer or read someone else’s analysis of it, but I agree with those who have said that it wasn’t meant to appeal to diehard Trek fans, and it functioned well as your flashy typical movie trailer. I never expect them to reveal much substance or even really reflect the true character of the movie.
Luckily we got the special treat of director Justin Lin showing us some rough cuts of a few scenes from the new movie. These included Bones and Kirk sharing a bottle of good whiskey “acquired” from Chekov’s locker (Bones:“I know, I always thought he’d be a… Kirk: ”Vodka guy”), and gave myself and other attendees hope for more from the movie than just the flash of the trailers. If nothing else, we can look forward to some of the classic banter between beloved characters that we got in TOS and some good character development.
But that wasn’t all! A curtain to our right dramatically pulled back after the footage was done to reveal a large reception area centered around movie costumes and props in glass cases. Within this area were a couple bars serving basic beer and wine, and hors d’oeuvres stations with everything from fresh veggies to dessert as servers passing around appetizers. We also got the chance to take photos in a couple transporter setups and a Captain’s chair, and pick up a freshly screen printed souvenir anniversary t-shirt. In the fear that they might run out, we made sure to go pick up our gift bags early on as these contained the all-important tickets to the premier, in addition to a few other things like the limited edition posters and a tribble. Finally, it was time to head home, more than five hours after arriving, and filled with excitement for the new movie.
All in all, while this event certainly could have benefited from more crowd control by Paramount, I think everyone who attended had an unexpectedly good time and many came away feeling more optimistic about Beyond.
Check out some exclusive footage from the event below.
Directed by Justin Lin, written by Simon Pegg, Doug Jung, Roberto Orci, John D. Payne and Patrick McCay, Star Trek Beyond stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella. The film is scheduled to hit theaters on July 22.
photos: Anna Yeutter/TrekNews.net