Star Trek vs. Star Wars: Let’s Talk

It’s time to have an uncomfortable discussion for Star Trek fans. For those who consider Star Wars a rival property this analysis will be a painful conversation. However, this intervention is aimed at CBS and Viacom, not loyal fans.

Let’s just say this and rip the Band-Aid off: Star Wars is bigger and more culturally relevant than Star Trek right now.

There, we said it.

Before you jump down to the comments section and hammer away, let’s take a look at the evidence and the math.

The Star Trek brand “re-booted” with Star Trek  in 2009, breaking an 11-year drought of releases. But if you include movies based on the TOS crew, Star Trek represented the first release since 1991 – 18 years!

Needless to say, enthusiasm for the re-boot ran high. According to boxofficemojo.com, the re-boot ranks as an inflation-adjusted box office champion among Star Trek movie titles. With a $317 million gross, das re-boot finished ahead of Star Trek: The Motion Picture’s $300 million (released in 1979). Again, this is inflation adjusted.

We can consider the Star Trek re-boot’s box office a success. However, the destruction of Vulcan, the improbable plopping of James T. Kirk fresh from the academy and into a command role of the USS Enterprise rankled traditionalists.

And we can see the dwindling effects of the movie trilogies and the non-inflation adjusted grosses (thanks to boxofficemojo.com):

 

TitleBox Office GrossRelease Date
Star Trek$257,730,019 May 8, 2009
Star Trek: Into Darkness$228,778,661 May 16, 2013
Star Trek Beyond$158,848,340 July 22, 2016
Total:$645,357,020

 

Four years after the re-boot release, the re-make of Kirk vs. Khan (aka Into Darkness) garnered $228 million at the box office. Perhaps the $29 million variance can be put down to old fuddy-duddies turned off by the non-canonical treatment of the first film.

But, three years later, Star Trek: Beyond  ended as a smoking sonic-grenade crater. The third installment fell $70 million short of Darkness and $99 million – let’s call it $100 million for rounding purposes – from the re-boot.

Granted, sequels tend to peter out in most cases. Unless you’re Marvel or Star Wars, which, coincidentally, are owned and operated by a mega brand-building machine named Disney.

TitleBox Office GrossRelease Date
Star Wars: The Force Awakens$936,662,225 Dec. 18, 2015
Star Wars: The Last Jedi$619,117,636 Dec. 15, 2017
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story$532,117,324 Dec. 16, 2016
Total:$2,087,897,185

 

Disney released three films in four years and grossed $2 billion dollars. Star Trek grossed $645 million. The three Star Trek films combined don’t add up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The entire library of 13 Star Trek movies total – in inflation-adjusted math computed by boxofficemojo.com – to $2.6 million. That’s an average of about $200 million per movie.

Star Wars, which boxofficemojo.com breaks into 18 titles because of special cuts and re-releases, totals over $7 billion with an average per film of $474 million.

WHERE DID THINGS GO WRONG?

Star Wars took a long hiatus after its initial trilogy release. It returned to a hungry audience and delivered poor acting and polarizing characters. This led to Lucas Films being sold to Disney.

But as much as Star Wars might have been criticized during the “prequel” trilogy, it maintained important elements:

•  The story arc connects directly to the first three films and explains the rise and creation of Darth Vader and the connection to Luke and Leia.
•  We see the rise of the Empire
•  Younger versions of key characters
•  And most importantly, the elements that make Star Wars so beloved: The technology, uniforms and ships remain drastically unaltered!

When it comes to storytelling, the overall Star War story is pretty simple stuff. But it looks incredible.

Compare this to Star Trek where we get a new Enterprise ship, set and uniforms in every film. We’ve seen a tie-in story-wise only between Wrath of Khan and Voyage Home.

Maybe the show premises shape the whole narrative.

Star Trek: “A five-year mission to seek out new life and new civilization.” Lends itself to short stories and new adventures.

Star Wars: “A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away” is a serialized fight against tyranny. It’s a civil war. Period.

ATTENTION VIACOM…

The power of Star Wars has spawned Lego movies, characters, toys and successful animated movies such as Clone Wars, which grossed $35 million. In fact, Disney is adding an entire Star Wars world to its Hollywood Studios theme park. And, honestly, it looks awesome.

Visit Hollywood Studios and you get to engage with Stormtroopers as they stalk the park. Star Trek? You can visit the Star Trek bridge set in the vacation hot spot of…Ticonderoga, NY.

What is Star Trek doing with it’s brand? Okay, great job leveraging Star Trek: Discovery to launch the CBS streaming business.

But, true to Star Trek form, Discovery  is aesthetically pointy and hideous. They even changed the look of the Klingons — for second time in series history! Can you imagine Star Wars changing the look of anything in the Empire? Can you imagine them messing with iconic Stormtrooper uniforms or Darth Vader’s helmet?

Tut-tut.

Stop.

The answer is no.

Flat-out.

No.

Star Trek’s handlers are simply not moving fast enough. They need to get involved in animated series’, Lego movies and spinoffs. Start spinning of shows focused only from the Klingon , Romulan or evil-alternative Spock-with-a-beard perspective. Do it in animation to contain costs.

Overall, the stewards of the Star Trek need to do a better job. They’ve been gifted a fabulous canon and universe and what do we get in return? An exploded Vulcan? An unrealistic portrayal of Kirk’s attainment of the Enterprise command? An ugly, pointy, dark streaming series?

It’s as uncomfortable as sitting on a Discovery-style Klingon uniform.

We leave you with a bit of humor as Triumph the Comic Insult Dog visits Star Wars fans as they camp out at New York’s Seigfeld Theatre. Triumph introduces a distinguished guest at the end of the bit.

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