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Star Trek is a 2009 science fiction film directed by J. J. Abrams, written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It is the eleventh film based on the Star Trek franchise and features the main characters of the original Star Trek television series, who are portrayed by a new cast. The film follows James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) before they unite aboard the USS Enterprise to combat Nero (Eric Bana), a Romulan from their future who threatens the United Federation of Planets. The story establishes an alternate reality through time-travel by both Nero and the original Spock (Leonard Nimoy), freeing the film and the franchise from established continuity constraints.

Development of the film began in 2005. The production's aim was to be faithful to the Star Trek canon, modifying continuity with the time-travel storyline, and modernizing the production design of the original show. Filming took place from November 2007 to March 2008 under intense secrecy. Midway through the shoot, Paramount chose to delay the release date from December 25, 2008 to May 2009, believing the film could reach a wider audience.

Star Trek earned high critical praise, gaining a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. It is the ninth-highest-grossing film of 2009 — fifth-highest within North America — and has become the highest-grossing film in the Star Trek series and is credited by the media as a reboot of the series.


The Federation starship USS Kelvin is investigating a massive lightning storm in space, when a Romulan ship, the Narada, emerges from within the storm, overpowers them, and demands their captain, Robau, transport to their ship. When questioned by the Romulan captain Nero, Robau professes no knowledge of the Vulcan Ambassador Spock, and that the year is 2233, prompting the Romulans to realize that they have somehow traveled back in time. Nero kills Robau and orders the Kelvin's destruction. Acting Captain George Samuel Kirk, Sr. orders the evacuation of the ship onto shuttlecrafts, including his pregnant wife Wynona, who was entering labor. While he sacrifices his life to steer the Kelvin into the Narada, he leaves open a communications channel and hears his wife give birth. He then names his new son James before the collision, which destroys the Kelvin but only damages the Narada while the shuttlecraft escape.

Several years later, a young Vulcan named Spock grows up on planet Vulcan and eventually joins Starfleet. On Earth, James Tiberius Kirk has a run-in at a local bar where Captain Christopher Pike challenges him to emulate his father's heroism, inviting him to join Starfleet, which he accepts. Three years later, Kirk draws the ire of Spock by cheating during the unbeatable Kobayashi Maru test the Vulcan had created. During Kirk's suspension hearing, Starfleet receives a distress signal from Vulcan and with the primary fleet away, the cadets are mobilized to help crew the ships in orbit. Leonard McCoy smuggles Kirk aboard the USS Enterprise. Onboard, Kirk warns Pike that the fleet is heading into a trap. The Enterprise arrives at Vulcan to find the fleet destroyed and the Narada drilling into the planet's core. The Narada attacks the Enterprise and Nero orders Pike to surrender himself. Pike agrees, promoting Spock to captain and Kirk to first officer. En route to the Narada, Kirk and Hikaru Sulu perform an orbital skydive onto the drilling platform and destroy it. Nero launches red matter into the planet's core, creating a black hole within it, destroying it. Spock rescues some of the planet's elders, but his mother dies along with the majority of the planet's population. Nero sets a course for Earth.

After a heated argument with Spock, Kirk is marooned on Delta Vega for mutiny. On the planet, Kirk encounters Ambassador Spock, who tells Kirk he is from the future and to save time, relays his story through a mind meld. The Ambassador explains that, in the year 2387, he was on a mission to stop a supernova from destroying the galaxy by using the red matter to create a black hole to consume it. Before he could enact his plan, the supernova had destroyed the planet Romulus. Nero, one of the few surviving Romulans, plotted his revenge on Spock. During Nero's attack on Spock, both were caught in the event horizon of the black hole, sending them back in time; the Narada had arrived first, and when Spock eventually appeared, they captured his ship, and stranded him on Delta Vega to watch Vulcan's destruction.

Ambassador Spock insists that Kirk must become captain of the Enterprise and the two travel to a nearby Starfleet outpost. There, they meet Montgomery Scott who beams onto the Enterprise with Kirk. Once aboard, Kirk deliberately enrages Commander Spock to force him to acknowledge that he is emotionally compromised, thereby forfeiting command to Kirk. The crew devises a plan to ambush the Narada by hiding behind Saturn's moon, Titan, and once there, Kirk and Spock beam aboard the Narada. Kirk rescues Pike while Spock retakes Ambassador Spock's ship, destroys the drill, and lures the Narada away from Earth before piloting a collision course. The Enterprise arrives and beams Kirk, Pike, and Spock away. Spock's ship and the Narada collide, which ignites the remaining red matter destroying both ships and creating a black hole. The Enterprise escapes by ejecting and then igniting the ship's warp core, with the resulting explosion pushing them clear of the black hole.

Back on Earth, Kirk is promoted to captain of the Enterprise and Captain Pike to Admiral. Soon after, Spock encounters his older self in a hangar. Ambassador Spock is departing to help establish a new colony with the remaining Vulcans. The younger Spock informs his older self of his wishes to leave Starfleet to aid his people. Ambassador Spock tells his younger self that he and Kirk need each other and that he should do what feels right. Taking his advice, Spock remains in Starfleet, becoming first officer under Kirk's command.


  • Chris Pine as James T. Kirk. Pine described his first audition as awful, because he could not take himself seriously as a leader. Abrams did not see Pine's first audition, and it was only after Pine's agent met Abrams' wife that the director decided to give him another audition opposite Quinto. Quinto was supportive of Pine's casting because they knew each other as they worked out at the same gym. After getting the part, Pine sent William Shatner a letter and received a reply containing Shatner's approval. Pine watched classic episodes and read encyclopedias about the Star Trek universe, but stopped as he felt weighed down by the feeling he had to copy Shatner. Pine felt he had to show Kirk's "humor, arrogance and decisiveness", but not Shatner's speech pattern, which would have bordered on imitation. Pine said when watching the original series, he was also struck by how Shatner's performance was characterized by humor. Instead, Pine chose to incorporate elements of Tom Cruise from Top Gun and Harrison Ford's portrayals of Indiana Jones and Han Solo.
  • Zachary Quinto as Spock. Quinto expressed interest in the role because of the duality of Spock's half-human, half Vulcan heritage, and how "he is constantly exploring that notion of how to evolve in a responsible way and how to evolve in a respectful way. I think those are all things that we as a society, and certainly the world, could implement." He mentioned he heard about the new film and revealed his interest in the role in a December 2006 interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: the article was widely circulated and he attracted Abrams' interest. For the audition, Quinto wore a blue shirt and flattened his hair down to feel more like Spock. He bound his fingers to practice the Vulcan salute, shaved his eyebrows and grew and dyed his hair for the role. He conveyed many of Spock's attributes, such as his stillness and the way Nimoy would hold his hands behind his back. Quinto commented the physical transformation aided in portraying an alien, joking "I just felt like a nerd. I felt like I was 12 again. You look back at those pictures and you see the bowl cut. There's no question I was born to play the Spock role. I was sporting that look for a good four or five years." Adrien Brody had discussed playing the role with the director before Quinto was cast.
    • Jacob Kogan plays Spock as a child.
    • Leonard Nimoy reprises his role as the elder Spock (referred to in the ending credits as Spock Prime), who has come from the future. Nimoy befriended Quinto after being cast in the role. Although Quinto watched some episodes of the show during breaks in filming, Nimoy was his main resource in playing Spock. Abrams and the writers met Nimoy at his house; writer Roberto Orci recalled the actor gave a Who are you guys and what are you up to?' vibe" before being told how important he was to them. He was silent, and Nimoy's wife Susan Bay told the creative team he had remained in his chair after their conversation, emotionally overwhelmed by his decision after turning down many opportunities to revisit the role. Had Nimoy disliked the script, production would have been delayed for it to be rewritten. He was "genuinely excited" by the script's scope and its detailing of the characters' backstories, saying, "We have dealt with [Spock being half-human, half-Vulcan], but never with quite the overview that this script has of the entire history of the character, the growth of the character, the beginnings of the character and the arrival of the character into the Enterprise crew." Abrams said "it was surreal to direct him as Spock, because what the hell am I doing there? This guy has been doing it for forty years. It's like 'I think Spock would...
  • Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. Like Pine, Urban said of taking on the role that "it is a case of not doing some sort of facsimile or carbon copy, but really taking the very essence of what DeForest Kelley has done and honoring that and bringing something new to the table". Urban has been a fan of the show since he was seven years old and actively pursued the role after rediscovering the series on DVD with his son. Urban was cast at his first audition, which was two months after his initial meeting with Abrams. He said he was happy to play a role with lots of comedy, something he had not done since The Price of Milk, because he was tired of action-oriented roles. When asked why McCoy is so cantankerous, Urban joked the character might be a "little bipolar actually!" Orci and Kurtzman had collaborated with Urban on Xena: Warrior Princess, in which he played Cupid and Caesar.
  • Zoe Saldaña as Nyota Uhura. Abrams had liked her work and requested that she play the role. Saldaña never saw the original series, though she had played a Trekkie in The Terminal (2004), but agreed to play the role after Abrams had complimented her. "For an actor, that's all you need, that's all you want. To get the acknowledgment and respect from your peers," she said. She met with Nichelle Nichols, who explained to her how she had created Uhura's background, and also named the character. Saldaña's mother was a Star Trek fan and sent her voice mails during filming, giving advice on the part. Sydney Tamiia Poitier also auditioned for the part. The film officially establishes the character's first name, which had never been previously uttered on TV or in film.
  • Simon Pegg as Montgomery "Scotty" Scott. Abrams contacted Pegg by e-mail, offering him the part. To perform Scotty's accent, Pegg was assisted by his wife Maureen, who is from Glasgowmarker, although Pegg said Scotty was from Linlithgowmarker and wanted to bring a more East Coast sound to his accent, so his resulting performance is a mix of both accents that leans towards the West sound. He was also aided by Tommy Gormley, the film's Glaswegian first assistant director. Pegg described Scotty as a positive Scottish stereotype, noting "Scots are the first people to laugh at the fact that they drink and fight a bit", and that Scotty comes from a long line of Scots with technical expertise, such as John Logie Baird and Alexander Graham Bell. Years before, Pegg's character in Spaced joked that every odd-numbered Star Trek film being "shit" was a fact of life. Pegg noted "Fate put me in the movie to show me I was talking out of my ass."
  • John Cho as Hikaru Sulu. Abrams was concerned about casting a Korean-American as a Japanese character, but George Takei explained to the director that Sulu was meant to represent all of Asia on the Enterprise, so Abrams went ahead with Cho. Cho acknowledged being an Asian-American, "there are certain acting roles that you are never going to get, and one of them is playing a cowboy. [Playing Sulu] is a realization of that dream — going into space." He cited the masculinity of the character as being important to him, and spent two weeks fight training. Cho suffered an injury to his wrist during filming, although a representative assured it was "no big deal". James Kyson Lee was interested in the part, but because Quinto was cast as Spock, the producers of the TV show Heroes did not want to lose another cast member for three months.
  • Anton Yelchin as Pavel Chekov: As with the rest of the cast, Yelchin was allowed to choose what elements there were from their predecessor's performances. Yelchin decided to carry on Walter Koenig's speech patterns of replacing "v"s with "w"s, although he and Abrams felt this was a trait more common of Polish accents than Russian ones. He described Chekov as an odd character, being a Russian who was brought on to the show "in the middle of the Cold War." He recalled a "scene where they're talking to Apollo [who says], 'I am Apollo.' And Chekov is like, 'And I am the czar of all Russias.' [...] They gave him these lines. I mean he really is the weirdest, weirdest character."
  • Eric Bana as Captain Nero, the film's time-traveling Romulan villain. Bana shot his scenes toward the end of filming. He was "a huge Trekkie when [he] was a kid", but had not seen the films. Even if he were "crazy about the original series", he would not have accepted the role unless he liked the script, which he deemed "awesome" once he read it. Bana knew Abrams because they coincidentally shared the same agent. Bana improvised the character's speech patterns.
  • Bruce Greenwood as Christopher Pike, the captain of the Enterprise.
  • Ben Cross as Sarek, Spock's father.
  • Winona Ryder as Amanda Grayson, Spock's mother.
  • Clifton Collins, Jr. as Ayel, Nero's first officer.
  • Chris Hemsworth as George Samuel Kirk, Sr., Kirk's father, who died aboard the USS Kelvin while battling the Romulans.
  • Jennifer Morrison as Winona Kirk, Kirk's mother.
  • Rachel Nichols as Gaila, an Orion Starfleet cadet.
  • Faran Tahir as Richard Robau, captain of the USS Kelvin.
  • Deep Roy as Keenser, Scotty's alien assistant on Delta Vega.
  • Greg Ellis as Chief Engineer Olson, the redshirt who is killed during the orbital skydive.
  • Chris Doohan, the son of the original Scotty, James Doohan, makes a cameo appearance in the transporter room. Pegg e-mailed Doohan about the role of Scotty, and the actor has promised him his performance "would be a complete tribute to his father". Chris Doohan previously cameoed in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
  • Paul McGillion auditioned for Scotty, and he impressed producers enough that he was given another role as a 'Barracks Leader'.
  • Greg Grunberg has a vocal cameo as Kirk's alcoholic stepfather. Brad William Henke filmed scenes in the role which were cut out. Star Trek: Enterprise star Dominic Keating also auditioned for the role. Grunberg was up for the role of Olson but dropped out due to a scheduling conflict. Grunberg was also interested in playing Harry Mudd, who was in an early draft of the script.
  • Amanda Foreman appears as Hannity, a Starfleet officer on the Enterprise bridge.
  • Spencer Daniels as Johnny, a childhood friend of Kirk. Daniels was set to play his older brother, George Samuel "Sam" Kirk, Jr., but the majority of his scenes were cut and James Kirk's callout was overdubbed.
  • Victor Garber as Klingon Interrogator, the officer who tortures Nero during his time on Rura Penthe. His scene was cut from the film and was featured on the DVD.

Tyler Perry appears as the head of Starfleet Academy, Admiral Richard Barnett. James Cawley, producer and star of the webseries Star Trek: New Voyages, appears as a Starfleet officer, while Pavel Lychnikoff and Lucia Rijker play Romulans, Lychnikoff a Commander and Rijker a CO. W. Morgan Sheppard, who played a Klingon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, appears in this film as the head of the Vulcan Science Council. Star Trek fan and Carnegie Mellon Universitymarker professor Randy Pausch (who died on July 25, 2008) cameoed as a Kelvin crew member, and has a line of dialogue. Majel Barrett, the widow of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, reprised her role as the voice of the Enterprise s computer, which she completed two weeks before her death on December 18, 2008. The film was dedicated to her as well as Gene, to whom the film was always going to be commemorated as a sign of respect.

Orci and Kurtzman wrote a scene for William Shatner, where old Spock gives his younger self a recorded message by Kirk from the previous timeline. "It was basically a Happy Birthday wish knowing that Spock was going to go off to Romulus, and Kirk would probably be dead by the time," and it would have transitioned into Shatner reciting "Where no man has gone before". But Shatner wanted to share Nimoy's major role, and did not want a cameo, despite his character's death in Star Trek Generations. He suggested the film canonize the novels where Kirk is resurrected, but Abrams decided if his character was accompanying Nimoy's, it would have become a film about the resurrection of Kirk, and not about introducing the new versions of the characters. Nimoy disliked the character's death in Generations, but felt resurrecting Kirk would also be detrimental to this film.

Nichelle Nichols suggested playing Uhura's grandmother, but Abrams could not write this in due to the Writers Guild strike. Abrams was also interested in casting Keri Russell, but they deemed the role he had in mind for her too similar to her other roles.



At the 1968 World Science Fiction Convention, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry declared he would make a film prequel to the television series. The prequel concept resurfaced in the late 1980s with Ralph Winter and Harve Bennett during development of the fourth and sixth films. For the latter, David Loughery wrote a script entitled The Academy Years, but it was shelved in light of objections from the original cast and the fan base. In February 2005, following the financial failure of the tenth film, Star Trek Nemesis (2002), and the cancellation of the television series Star Trek: Enterprise, the franchise's executive producer Rick Berman and screenwriter Erik Jendresen were developing a new film entitled Star Trek: The Beginning. It was to revolve around a new set of characters, led by Kirk's ancestor Tiberius Chase. It would take place after Enterprise but before the original series, during the Earth-Romulan War.

In 2005, Viacom, which owned Paramount Pictures, split from CBS Corporation, which retained Paramount's television properties, including ownership of the Star Trek brand. Gail Berman, then president of Paramount, convinced CBS' chief executive, Leslie Moonves, to allow them eighteen months to develop a new Star Trek film before CBS would re-earn the rights to develop a new television series (in return, CBS would keep merchandising rights). Berman approached Mission: Impossible III writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman for ideas on the new film, and after the film had completed shooting she asked their director, J. J. Abrams, to produce it. Abrams, Orci and Kurtzman, plus producers Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk, felt the franchise had explored enough of what took place after the series, Orci and Lindelof consider themselves trekkies, and feel some of the Star Trek novels have canonical value, although Gene Roddenberry never considered the novels to be canon. Kurtzman is a casual fan, while Burk was not. Abrams' company, Bad Robot Productions produced the film with Paramount, marking the first time another company had financed a Star Trek film. Bill Todman Jr.'s Level 1 Entertainment also co-produced the film, but during 2008 Spyglass Entertainment replaced them as financial partner.

Abrams had not seen Star Trek Nemesis because the franchise had "disconnected" for him, explaining that for him, Star Trek was about Kirk and Spock, and the other series were like "separate space adventure[s] with the name Star Trek". Abrams also preferred Star Wars as a child. He noted his general knowledge of Star Trek made him suitable to making a film to introduce the franchise to newcomers though, and being an optimistic person, he felt the optimistic nature of Star Trek would be a refreshing contrast to the likes of The Dark Knight. He continued that he loved the focus on exploration in Star Trek and the idea of the Prime Directive, which forbids Starfleet to interfere in the development of primitive worlds. However, Abrams disliked that the budgetary limitations of the original show meant they "never had the resources to actually show the adventure". He noted he only became involved with the project as producer initially because he wanted to help Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof.

On February 23, 2007, Abrams accepted Paramount's offer to direct the film, having been only attached as producer. After reading the script, he had decided "I would be so agonizingly envious of whoever stepped in and directed the movie." Orci and Kurtzman felt their aim had been to impress a casual fan like Abrams with their story. Even when filming, Abrams was nervous "with all these tattooed faces and pointy ears, bizarre weaponry and Romulan linguists, with dialogue about 'Neutral Zones' and 'Starfleet' [but] I knew this would work, because the script Alex and Bob wrote was so emotional and so relatable. I didn't love Kirk and Spock when I began this journey – but I love them now."


Orci said creating a clean reboot would have been disrespectful, and getting Leonard Nimoy in the film was very important. "Having him sitting around a camp fire sharing his memories was never gonna cut it" though, and time travel was going to be included in the film from the beginning. Kurtzman added the time travel creates jeopardy, unlike other prequels where viewers "know how they all died". The writers acknowledged time travel had been overused in the other series, but it served a good purpose in creating a new set of adventures for the original characters before they could completely do away with it in other films. Abrams selected the Romulans as the villains because they had been featured less than the Klingons in the show, and thought it was "fun" to have them meet Kirk before he does in the show. Orci and Kurtzman noted it would feel backward to demonize the Klingons again after they had become heroes in later Star Trek series, and the Romulan presence continues Spock's story from his last chronological appearance in "Unification", an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation set in 2368. The episode of the original continuity in which Kirk becomes the first human to ever see a Romulan, "Balance of Terror", served as one of the influences for the film. Orci said it was difficult giving a good explanation for the time travel without being gimmicky, like having Nero specifically seeking to assassinate Kirk.

Orci noted while the time travel story allowed them to alter some backstory elements such as Kirk's first encounter with the Romulans, they could not use it as a crutch to change everything and they tried to approach the film as a prequel as much as possible. Kirk's service on the Farragut, a major backstory point to the original episode "Obsession", was left out because it was deemed irrelevant to the story of Kirk meeting Spock, although Orci felt nothing in his script precluded it from the new film's backstory. There was a scene involving Kirk meeting Carol Marcus, who becomes the mother of his son in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, as a child, but it was dropped because the film needed more time to introduce the core characters. Figuring out ways to get the crew together required some contrivances, which Orci and Kurtzman wanted to explain from old Spock as a way of the timeline mending itself, highlighting the theme of destiny. The line was very difficult to write and was ultimately cut out.

The filmmakers sought inspiration from novels such as Prime Directive, Spock's World, and Best Destiny to fill in gaps unexplained by canon; Best Destiny particularly explores Kirk's childhood and names his parents. One idea that was justified through information from the novels was having the Enterprise built on Earth, which was inspired by a piece of fan art of the Enterprise being built in a ship yard. Orci had sent the fan art to Abrams to show how realistic the film could be. Orci explained parts of the ship would have to be constructed on Earth because of the artificial gravity employed on the ship and its requirement for sustaining warp speed, and therefore the calibration of the ship's machinery would be best done in the exact gravity well which is to be simulated. They felt free to have the ship built in Iowamarker because canon is ambiguous as to whether it was built in San Franciscomarker, but this is a result of the time travel rather than something intended to overlap with the original timeline. Abrams noted the continuity of the original show itself was inconsistent at times.

Orci and Kurtzman said they wanted the general audience to like the film as much as the fans, by stripping away "Treknobabble", making it action-packed and giving it the simple title of Star Trek (to indicate to newcomers they would not need to watch any of the other films). Abrams saw humor and sex appeal as two integral and popular elements of the show that needed to be maintained. Orci stated being realistic and being serious were not the same thing. Abrams, Burk, Lindelof, Orci and Kurtzman were fans of The Wrath of Khan, and also cited The Next Generation episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" as an influence. Abrams's wife Katie was regularly consulted on the script, as were Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof's wives, to make the female characters as strong as possible. Katie Abrams's approval of the strong female characters was partly why Abrams signed on to direct.

Orci and Kurtzman read graduate school dissertations on the series for inspiration; they noted comparisons of Kirk, Spock and McCoy to Shakespearian archetypes, and Kirk and Spock's friendship echoing that of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They also noted that, in the creation of this film, they were influenced by Star Wars, particularly in terms of pacing. "I want to feel the space, I want to feel speed and I want to feel all the things that can become a little bit lost when Star Trek becomes very stately" said Orci. Star Wars permeated in the way they wrote the action sequences, while Burk noted Kirk and Spock's initially cold relationship mirrors how "Han Solo wasn't friends with anyone when they started on their journey." Spock and Uhura were put in an actual relationship as a nod to early episodes highlighting her interest in him. Orci wanted to introduce strong Starfleet captains, concurring with an interviewer that most captains in other films were "patsies" included to make Kirk look greater by comparison.

The USS Kelvin, the ship Kirk's father serves on, is named after J. J. Abrams' grandfather, as well as the temperature scale Kelvin, itself named after physicist and engineer Lord Kelvin . The Kelvin s captain, Richard Robau (Faran Tahir), is named after Orci's Cubanmarker uncle: Orci theorized the fictional character was born in Cuba and grew up in the Middle East. Another reference to Abrams' previous works is Slusho, which Uhura orders at the bar at which she meets Kirk. Abrams created the fictitious drink for Alias and it reappeared in viral marketing for Cloverfield. Its owners, Tagruato, is also from Cloverfield and appears on a building in San Franciscomarker. The red matter in the film is in the shape of a red ball, an Abrams motif dating back to the pilot of Alias.


The film was primarily designed by Ryan Church, Neville Page, the Cloverfield monster's creator, and Star Trek veteran John Eaves. Abrams stated the difficulty of depicting the future was that much of modern technology was inspired by the original show, and made it seem outdated. Thus the production design had to be consistent with the television series but also feel more advanced than the real world technology developed after it. "We all have the iPhone that does more than the communicator," said Abrams. "I feel like there's a certain thing that you can't really hold onto, which is kind of the kitschy quality. That must go if it's going to be something that you believe is real." Prop master Russell Bobbitt collaborated with Nokia on recreating the original communicator, creating a $50,000 prototype. Another prop recreated for the film was the tricorder. Bobbitt brought the original prop to the set, but the actors found it too large to carry when filming action scenes, so technical advisor Doug Brody redesigned it to be smaller. The phaser props were designed as spring-triggered barrels that revolve and glow as the setting switches from "stun" to "kill". An Aptera Typ-1 prototype car was used on location.

Panorama of the Enterprise s redesigned bridge
Production designer Scott Chambliss maintained the layout of the original bridge, but aesthetically altered it with brighter colors to reflect the optimism of Star Trek. The viewscreen was made into a window that could have images projected on it to make the space environment palpable. Abrams compared the redesign to the sleek modernist work of Pierre Cardin and the sets from 2001: A Space Odyssey, which were from the 1960s. He joked the redesigned bridge made the Apple Store look "uncool". At the director's behest, more railings were added to the bridge to make it look safer, and the set was built on gimbals so its rocking motions when the ship accelerates and is attacked was more realistic. To emphasize the size of the ship, Abrams chose to give the engine room a highly industrial appearance: he explained to Simon Pegg that he was inspired by Titanic, which also depicted within a sleek ship that there was an "incredible gut".

Abrams selected Michael Kaplan to design the costumes because he had not seen any of the films, meaning he would approach the costumes with a new angle. For the Starfleet uniforms, Kaplan followed the show's original color coding, with dark gray (almost black) undershirts and pants and colored overshirts showing each crew member's position (command officers wear gold shirts, science and medical officers wear blue, and operations (technicians/engineers) and security personnel wear red). Kaplan wanted the shirts to be more sophisticated than the originals and selected to have the Starfleet symbol patterned on them. Kirk wears only the undershirt because he is a cadet. Kaplan modelled the uniforms on the Kelvin on science fiction films of the 1940s and 1950s, to contrast with the Enterprise-era uniforms based on the ones created in the 1960s. For Abrams, "The costumes were a microcosm of the entire project, which was how to take something that's kind of silly and make it feel real. But how do you make legitimate those near-primary color costumes?"

Lindelof compared the film's Romulan faction to pirates with their bald, tattooed heads and disorganized costuming. Their ship, the Narada, is purely practical with visible mechanics as it is a "working ship", unlike the Enterprise crew who give a respectable presentation on behalf of the Federation. Chambliss was heavily influenced by the architecture of Antoni Gaudí for the Narada, who created buildings that appeared to be inside out: by making the ship's exposed wires appear like bones or ligaments, it would create a foreboding atmosphere. The ship's interior was made of six pieces that could be rearranged to create a different room. The Romulan actors spent two to four hours applying make-up: the actors had three prosthetics applied to their ears and foreheads, while Bana had a fourth prosthetic for the bitemark on his ear that extends to the back of his character's head. The film's Romulans lacked the 'V'-shaped ridges on the foreheads, which had been present in all of their depictions outside the original series. Neville Page wanted to honor that having Nero's crew ritually scar themselves too, forming keloids reminiscent of the 'V'-ridges. It was abandoned as they did not pursue the idea enough. Kaplan wanted aged, worn and rugged clothes for the Romulans because of their mining backgrounds, and found some greasy looking fabrics at a flea market. Kaplan tracked down the makers of those clothes, who turned out to be based in Balimarker, and commissioned them to create his designs.

Barney Burman supervised the makeup for the other aliens: his team had to rush the creation of many of the aliens, because originally the majority of them were to feature in one scene towards the end of filming. Abrams deemed the scene too similar to the cantina sequence in Star Wars, and decided to dot the designs around the film. A tribble was placed in the background of Scotty's introduction. Both digital and physical makeup was used for aliens.


Filming began on November 7, 2007, and finished on March 27, 2008, although second unit filming took place during early April in Bakersfield, Californiamarker, which stood in for Kirk's childhood home in Iowamarker. Filming was also done at the City Hall of Long Beach, Californiamarker; the San Rafael Swellmarker in Utah; and the California State University, Northridgemarker (which was used for establishing shots of students at Starfleet Academy). A parking lot outside Dodger Stadiummarker was used for the ice planet of Delta Vega and the Romulan drilling rig on Vulcan. The filmmakers had been interested in filming in Icelandmarker for scenes on Delta Vega, but decided against it: Chambliss enjoyed the challenge of filming scenes with snow in southern California. The drilling rig was built 16 feet into the air. Other Vulcan exteriors were shot at Vasquez Rocksmarker, a location that was used in various episodes of the original show. A Budweiser plant in Van Nuysmarker was used for the Enterprise's engine room, while a Long Beach power plant was used for the Kelvin s engine room.

Following the commencement of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike on November 5, 2007, Abrams, himself a WGA member, told Variety that while he would not render writing services for the film and intended to walk the picket line, he did not expect the strike to impact his directing of the production. In the final few weeks before the strike and start of production, Abrams and Lindelof polished the script a final time. Abrams was frustrated that he was unable to alter lines during the strike, whereas normally they would have been able to improvise new ideas during rehearsal, although Lindelof acknowledged they could dub some lines in post-production. Orci and Kurtzman were able to stay on set without strikebreaking because they were also executive producers on the film; they could "make funny eyes and faces at the actors whenever they had a problem with the line and sort of nod when they had something better". Abrams was able to alter a scene where Spock combats six Romulans from a fistfight to a gunfight, having decided there were too many physical brawls in the film.

The production team maintained heavily enforced security around the film. Karl Urban revealed, "[There is a] level of security and secrecy that we have all been forced to adopt. I mean, it's really kind of paranoid crazy, but sort of justified. We're not allowed to walk around in public in our costumes and we have to be herded around everywhere in these golf carts that are completely concealed and covered in black canvas. The security of it is immense. You feel your freedom is a big challenge." Actors like Jennifer Morrison were only given the scripts of their scenes. The film's shooting script was fiercely protected even with the main cast. Simon Pegg said, "I read [the script] with a security guard near me – it's that secretive." The film used the fake working title of Corporate Headquarters. Some of the few outside of the production allowed to visit the set included Rod Roddenberry, Ronald D. Moore, Jonathan Frakes, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Ben Stiller, Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg (who had partially convinced Abrams to direct because he liked the script, and he even advised the action scenes during his visit).

Abrams chose to shoot the film in the anamorphic format on 35 mm film after discussions about whether the film should be shot in high-definition digital video. Cinematographer Dan Mindel and Abrams agreed the choice gave the film a big-screen feel and the realistic, organic look they wanted for the film setting. Abrams and Mindel used lens flares throughout filming to create an optimistic atmosphere and a feeling activity was taking place off-camera, making the Star Trek universe feel more real. "There's something about those flares, especially in a movie that potentially could be incredibly sterile and CG and overly controlled. There’s just something incredibly unpredictable and gorgeous about them." Mindel would create more flares by shining a flashlight or pointing a mirror at the camera lens, or using two cameras simultaneously and therefore two lighting set-ups.

When the shoot ended, Abrams gave the cast small boxes containing little telescopes, which allowed them to read the name of each constellation it was pointed at. "I think he just wanted each of us to look at the stars a little differently," said John Cho. After the shoot, Abrams cut out some scenes of Kirk and Spock as children, including seeing the latter as a baby, as well as a subplot involving Nero being imprisoned by the Klingons and his escape: this explanation for his absence during Kirk's life confused many to whom Abrams screened the film. Other scenes cut out explained the teenage Kirk stole his stepfather's antique car because he had forced him to clean it before an auction; and that the Orion he seduced at the Academy worked in the operations division. Afterwards, she agrees to open the e-mail containing his patch that allows him to pass the Kobayashi Maru test.


Industrial Light & Magic and Digital Domain were among several companies that created over 1,000 special effect shots. The visual effects supervisors were Roger Guyett, who collaborated with Abrams on Mission: Impossible III and also served as second unit director, and Russell Earl. Abrams avoided shooting only against bluescreen and greenscreen, because it "makes me insane", using them instead to extend the scale of sets and locations. The Delta Vega sequence required the mixing of digital snow with real snow.

Star Trek was the first film ILM worked on using entirely digital ships. The Enterprise was intended by Abrams to be a merging of its design in the show and the refitted version from the original film. Abrams had fond memories of the reveal of the Enterprise s refit in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, because it was the first time the ship felt tangible and real to him. The iridescent pattern on the ship from The Motion Picture was maintained to give the ship depth, while model maker Roger Goodson also applied the "Aztec" pattern from The Next Generation. Goodson recalled Abrams also wanted to bring a "hot rod" aesthetic to the ship. Effects supervisor Roger Guyett wanted the ship to have more moving parts, which stemmed from his childhood dissatisfaction with the ship's design: The new Enterprise s dish can expand and move, while the fins on its engines split slightly when they begin warping. The Enterprise was originally redesigned by Ryan Church using features of the original, at long, but was later scaled up by a factor of two to long to make it seem "grander", while the Romulan Narada is five miles long and several miles wide. The filmmakers had to simulate lens flares on the ships in keeping with the film's cinematography.

Carolyn Porco of NASAmarker was consulted on the planetary science and imagery. The animators realistically recreated what an explosion would look like in space: short blasts, which suck inward and leave debris from a ship floating. For shots of an imploding planet, the same explosion program was used to simulate it breaking up, while the animators could manually composite multiple layers of rocks and wind sucking into the planet. Unlike other Star Trek films and shows, the transporter beam effects swirl rather than speckle. Abrams conceived the redesign to emphasize the notion of transporters as beams that can pick up and move people, rather than a signal composed of scrambled atoms.

Lola Visual Effects worked on 48 shots, including some animation to Eric Bana and Leonard Nimoy. Bana required extensive damage to his teeth, which was significant enough to completely replace his mouth in some shots. Nimoy's mouth was reanimated in his first scene with Kirk following a rerecording session. The filmmakers had filmed Nimoy when he rerecorded his lines so they could rotoscope his mouth into the film, even recreating the lighting conditions, but they realized they had to digitally recreate his lips because of the bouncing light created by the camp fire.



Michael Giacchino, Abrams' most frequent collaborator, composed the music for Star Trek. He kept the original theme by Alexander Courage for the end credits, which Abrams said symbolized the momentum of the crew coming together. Giacchino admitted personal pressure in scoring the film, as "I grew up listening to all of that great [Trek] music, and that's part of what inspired me to do what I'm doing [...] You just go in scared. You just hope you do your best. It's one of those things where the film will tell me what to do." Scoring took place at the Sony Scoring Stage with a 107-piece orchestra and 40-person choir. An erhu, performed by Karen Han, was used for the Vulcan themes. A distorted recording was used for the Romulans. Varese Sarabande, the record label responsible for releasing albums of Giacchino's previous scores for Alias, Lost, Mission: Impossible III, and Speed Racer, released the soundtrack for the film on May 5.

Sound effects

The sound effects were designed by Star Wars veteran Ben Burtt. Whereas the phaser blast noises from the television series were derived from The War of the Worlds (1953), Burtt made his phaser sounds more like his blasters from Star Wars, because Abrams' depiction of phasers were closer to the blasters' bullet-like fire, rather than the steady beams of energy in previous Star Trek films. Burtt reproduced the classic photon torpedo and warp drive sounds: he tapped a long spring against a contact microphone, and combined that with cannon fire. Burtt used a 1960s oscillator to create a musical and emotional hum to the warping and transporting sounds.


In February 2008, Paramount announced they would move Star Trek from its December 25, 2008 release date to May 8, 2009, as the studio felt more people would see the film during summer than winter. The film was practically finished by the end of 2008. Paramount's decision came about after visiting the set and watching dailies, as they realized the film could appeal to a much broader audience. Even though the filmmakers liked the Christmas release date, Damon Lindelof acknowledged it would allow more time to perfect the visual effects. The months-long gap between the completion of the production and release meant Alan Dean Foster was allowed to watch the whole film before writing the novelization, although the novel would contain scenes absent from the final edit. Quinto narrated the audiobook.

A surprise public screening was held on April 6, 2009, at the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin, Texasmarker, hosted by writers Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and producer Damon Lindelof. The showing was publicized as a screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, followed by a ten-minute preview of the new Star Trek film. A few minutes into Khan, the film appeared to melt and Leonard Nimoy appeared on stage with Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof, asking the audience, "wouldn’t you rather see the new movie?" Following the surprise screening in Texas, the first of many premieres across the world was held at the Sydney Opera Housemarker on April 7, 2009. For almost two years, the town of Vulcan, Albertamarker had campaigned to have the film premiere there, but because it had no theater, Paramount arranged instead a lottery where 300 winning residents would be taken to a prerelease screening in Calgarymarker. The film was requested by astronaut Michael R. Barratt, before boarding the International Space Station. Paramount provided NASA with a copy that was uploaded to the International Space Station on May 14, 2009.


The first teaser trailer debuted in theaters with Cloverfield on January 18, 2008, which showed the Enterprise under construction. Abrams himself directed the first part of the trailer, where a welder removes his goggles. Professional welders were hired for the teaser. The voices of the 1960s played over the trailer were intended to link the film to the present day; John F. Kennedy in particular was chosen because of similarities with the character of James T. Kirk and because he is seen to have "kicked off" the space race. Orci explained that: "If we do indeed have a Federation, I think Kennedy’s words will be inscribed in there someplace." Star Trek's later trailers would win four awards, including Best in Show, in the tenth annual Golden Trailer Awards.

Paramount faced two obstacles in promoting the film: the unfamiliarity of the "MySpace generation" with the franchise and the relatively weak international performance of the films. Six months before the film's release, Abrams toured Romemarker; Cologne; Madridmarker; Parismarker; Londonmarker; New York Citymarker and Los Angelesmarker with 25 minutes of footage. Abrams noted the large-scale campaign started unusually early, but this was because the release delay allowed him to show more completed scenes than normal. The director preferred promoting his projects quietly, but concurred Paramount needed to remove Star Trek s stigma. Abrams would exaggerate his preference for other shows to Star Trek as a child to the press, with statements like "I'm not a Star Trek fan" and "this movie is not made for Star Trek fans necessarily". Orci compared Abrams' approach to The Next Generation episode "A Matter of Honor", where William Riker is stationed aboard a Klingon vessel. "On that ship when someone talks back to you, you would have to beat them down or you lose the respect of your crew, which is protocol, whereas on a Federation ship that would be a crime. So we have to give JJ a little bit of leeway, when he is traveling the 'galaxy' over there where they don’t know Trek, to say the things that need to be said in order to get people onto our side."

Promotional partners on the film include Nokia, Verizon Wireless, Esurance, Kellogg's, Burger King and Intel Corporationmarker, as well as various companies specializing in home decorating, apparel, jewelry, gift items and "Tiberius," "Pon Farr" and "Red Shirt" fragrances. Playmates Toys, who owned the Star Trek toy license until 2000, earned the merchandise rights for the new film. The first waves will be released in March and April 2009, and another in September. Playmates hope to continue their toy line into 2010. The first wave consists of 3.75", 6" and 12" action figures, an Enterprise replica, prop toys and play sets. In order to recreate the whole bridge, one would have to buy more 3.75" figures, which come with chairs and consoles to add to the main set consisting of Kirk's chair, the floor, the main console and the viewscreen. Master Replicas, Mattel, Hasbro and Fundex Games will promote the film via playing cards, Monopoly, UNO, Scrabble, Magic 8-Ball, Hot Wheels, Tyco R/C, 20Q, Scene It? and Barbie lines. Some of these are based on previous Star Trek iterations rather than the film. CBS also created a merchandising line based around Star Trek caricatures named "Quogs".

Box office

The film's first normal US screenings were at 7 p.m. on May 7, 2009, grossing $4 million on its opening day. By the end of the weekend, Star Trek had opened with $79,204,300, as well as $35,500,00 from other countries. Adjusted and unadjusted for inflation, it beat Star Trek: First Contact for the largest US opening for a Star Trek film. The film made $8.5 million from its IMAX screenings, breaking The Dark Knight s $6.3 million IMAX opening record. The film is the highest-grossing domestically in the entire Star Trek film franchise, eclipsing the previous leader, The Voyage Home (which made $109,713,100 unadjusted for inflation), and adjusted for inflation, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Its opening weekend numbers alone outgross the entire runs of The Undiscovered Country, The Final Frontier, Insurrection and Nemesis. Star Trek ended its domestic theatrical run on October 1, 2009, with a box office total of $257,730,019, which places it as the fifth highest-grossing film for 2009. The film's total international gross is $127,223,759, for a total worldwide gross of $384,953,671, ranking it currently 9th behind Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. While foreign grosses represent a disappointing 33% of the total box office receipts compared to other films, Paramount is still happy with the international sales, because Star Trek has never been a big draw overseas.


, the film holds a 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 260 out of 274 critics giving it a positive review with an average rating of 8.1/10, surpassing all other feature films in the franchise. The film also holds a score of 83   on the review aggregator website Metacritic, tying for fifth of film releases in 2009 to date.

Ty Burr of the Boston Globe gave it 4/4 stars, describing it as "ridiculously satisfying", and the "best prequel ever". Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A- commenting that: "But in Star Trek, the clever and infectious reboot of the amazingly enduring sci-fi classic, director J.J. Abrams crafts an origin story that avoids any hint of the origin doldrums." The film also received positive reviews from The New York Times, Slate Magazine and Rolling Stone.

Although only two reviews were categorized by Metacritic as "yellow", or mixed, a recurring critical complaint held that the franchise's tradition of providing morally challenging stories had been neglected or even violated. The AV Club gave the film a "green" B+, but asserted that it was "a reconsideration of what constitutes Star Trek, one that deemphasizes heady concepts and plainly stated humanist virtues in favor of breathless action punctuated by bursts of emotion. It might not even be immediately recognizable to veteran fans." Roger Ebert agreed, lamenting in his 2.5/4 star-review that "the Gene Roddenberry years, when stories might play with questions of science, ideals or philosophy, have been replaced by stories reduced to loud and colorful action." Non-review articles also echoed this concern: Marc Bain asked in Newsweek if the franchise had "lost its moral relevance", and Juliet Lapidos argued in Slate that the new film, with its "standard Hollywood torture scene," failed to live up to the intellectual standard set by the 1992 Next Generation episode "Chain of Command", whose treatment of the issue she found both more sophisticated and pertinent to the ongoing debate over the United Statesmarker' use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

Home video

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 17 in North America, November 16 in the UK and October 26 in Australia and New Zealand. In Sweden, it was released on November 4. First week sales stand at 5.7 million DVD's along with 1.1 million Blu-ray Discs giving Paramount Studios their third chart topping release in the last five weeks following Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Deleted scenes

The DVD/Blu-ray release of the film contains numerous scenes deleted from the theatrical release - many of which deviate from the final script:

  • Spock's birth - Director J.J. Abrams originally planned for the film to begin with Spock's birth, followed by that of Kirk, but for pacing, this scene was cut.
  • Klingon capture of the Narada - In the original script, the USS Kelvin's kamikaze run sends the Narada hurling out of control toward the Klingon Neutral Zone, where she is surrounded and boarded by Klingon vessels. The deleted scene uses unfinished CG renders of the Narada and the Klingon ships.
  • The boy walking on the Iowa highway at the beginning of the film was originally written in the script as young Kirk's elder brother, who ran away from home after a heated argument with their uncle (who was subsequently rewritten in the final script as Kirk's stepfather). While washing the Corvette, Kirk discovers the keys in the sun visor.
  • Sarek and Amanda argue about young Spock's fight with the Vulcan bullies.
  • Twenty years after the Narada is captured, Nero and his men are serving hard labor on a Klingon prison planet. Nero is interrogated after the Klingons discover his notes about the Narada's voyage, but he manages to escape and free his men. Notable in this scene is the physical appearance of the Klingons, who do not show their faces and are portrayed as wearing heavy black trenchcoats and chrome helmets with ridges on them. The head interrogator was played by Victor Garber.
  • The original bed scene between Kirk and Gaila makes reference of the Narada escaping the prison planet. Also, Kirk tells Gaila he sent her an email. During the Kobayashi Maru test, Gaila opens her email in the control room, releasing a virus that shuts down the test for a few seconds.
  • Aboard the Enterprise, Kirk meets a female Orion by the hallway and apologizes to her for involving her in his Kobayashi Maru test, only to realize that she is not Gaila.


The story of the film is completed by two comics books by IDW Publishing. The first one, titled Star Trek: Countdown, takes place in the Prime Star Trek universe, after the events of Nemesis and before the back story of Star Trek Online. The second one, Star Trek: Nero, covers the gap between the destruction of the USS Kelvin and the reappearance of the Narada in the new timeline.


The film's major cast members have signed on for two sequels. Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof began writing the script for a sequel in March 2009, with the hope to complete it by December and produce the film for a mid-2011 release. J. J. Abrams and Bryan Burk will produce, although Abrams has not signed to direct. When speaking on the alternate reality set up in Star Trek, Abrams commented that it would be "ridiculous to not be open" to ideas like resurrecting William Shatner's James T. Kirk or recasting Khan Noonien Singh. "The idea, now that we are in an independent timeline, allows us to use any of the ingredients from the past — or come up with brand-new ones — to make potential stories," he said. Orci and Kurtzman explained the dilemma for the sequel was whether to pit the crew against another villain, or to have an "exploration sci-fi plot where the unknown and nature itself is somehow an adversary." On recasting Khan, Orci questioned "why take the chance?"


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