The future begins

This, we are told, is the principle theatrical Star Trek poster.

Look at all familiar?  Well, if you were around in 1979, you might remember this:

Great to see that they’re taking the re-boot seriously.  All the same, I think it’s a bold choice.  This is a very abstract design for the principle piece of artwork on such a major release.

Normally we see this kind of thing used for the teaser poster early on in the campaign, often because all the designers have to work with is one visual of the Enterprise and a bed sheet.

The final theatrical poster tends to be more of an amalgam, reflecting the key selling points of the movie, and any star quality on offer.  These can often feel slightly crowded and overworked, at the expense of any underlying creative coherence.

The next two designs – used for two of the international posters, destined for markets where Star Trek is a little less ubiquitous than the US – typify that approach (although personally I think they hold together pretty nicely):

And just to round up this little round-up, this (apparently) is the South American poster:

Looks like they’ve taken a completely different route, positioning Star Trek as an event movie, cut from the same cloth as Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow.


The last of these notably caters for the global obsession with the spectacle of major American landmarks being destroyed.  Some would probably cite this as some sort of morbid post-9/11 phenomenon, but for those people I have just two words.  Well, three. The. Towering. Inferno.


All in all, I think these posters offer an interesting view of the whole process of packaging the same film for differing cultural sensibilities.

Indeed, the Star Trek franchise as a whole is a bit of an anomaly in this respect – it’s an institution in America, plays pretty well in the UK, Australia, and a few other European countries, but apart from that it’s a pretty tough sell. That may be rooted in the fact that it espouses a homogenised world-view foreign to the local sensibilities of non-English-speaking markets.

Ironic, when you consider that series creator Gene Roddenberry predicated Star Trek on the coming together of all mankind in the face of the discovery of other intelligent life in the universe.

I guess maybe the coming together of all mankind feels a little less enticing if it means that everybody ends up looking like they went to school in Beverly Hills.

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  • Catherine Randle

    I read your blog, I laughed, I cried and I have to admit I hugged the poster in our local REEL cinema when I saw it. (Yes it was my science fiction TV love) More people are coming together over global warming in amazingly creative ways but it doesn’t make for good film does it.

  • Good stuff as always, Dan.

    That new poster is the only thing from the whole campaign that has made me sit up and take notice. But sadly, your posting of The Motion Picture poster now makes me want to watch some real Star Trek. It gets a lot of knocking, but it’s my favourite of the franchise, flawed as it is.

    I doubt very much that if anything in the original Star Trek resembled the utter crap I’ve seen in the 90210 trailer that the franchise would have ever made it this far.

    South America seems to have hit the nail on the head with their Star Trek: Disaster.

    STD being what the new Kirk is all about by the look of his date rapist good looks…

  • I really like that poster. I think the image, as you suggest, doffs its hat to the last movie, which re-launched Star Trek and is bold enough to take on a life of its own beyond being a marketing tool. It would look really good in frame and on a spare room wall (mine specifically).

    I think the destruction of iconic structures relays a feeling of genuine peril and a message that life has changed to an extent that it cannot be changed back. They also convey a sense of grandiosity to a film and make it come across as a great spectacle, not to be missed. I remember the poster for Gorgo (where a rampaging beast tears up London town) is another example. As is the decapitated Statue Of Liberty used in the Escape From New York, which must have enticed a large number of people into the cinema to see what was in fact a pretty low budget (albeit excellent) film.

    For me, Star Trek has always been an affirmation of the nobler parts of Western Liberal Democracy. I think Roddenberry believed that its tenets were universal and matters of absolute truth, like the laws of physics. Therefore it was perfectly natural for advanced civilisations to evolve their own forms of Democracy. I think if Star Trek had been conceived today, it wouldn’t have been so ideologically confident.

  • delboydare

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the poster and your views on Star Trek generally.

    I would like to throw into the pot a couple of things that you’ve made me mull over from reading your post.

    I love the principle UK Star Trek poster. Yes it may be bold and abstract, but as a design it plays on the strengths of Star Trek and the UK audience who I believe for the most part have a sophistication and appreciation of styled graphic images, especially film posters.

    I hope that the designers purposely did the homage to ’79 poster or maybe even better, they came to it naturally, as the Enterprise is one of the iconic forms that tie the franchise together. Quality of the design is a big key to it’s original success in the 60s as well is great writing (for the most part, 3rd series dipped badly – Spock’s Brain, anyone?).

    The next designs are okay, but what is it with the third one’s use of the extra set of eyes? It makes Kirk seem a malevolent force rather than just a rebel (if that’s what he is?). Hmm?

    It’s interesting what you say about the perception of the less Americanised markets. For all it’s innocuous feel, Trek has always been a blunt instrument in pushing out social (Western/American) memes, like a lot cinema is.

    Gene Roddenberry was a utopian and also product of post war optimism, so his Star Trek was of a JFK as Kirk against the Commie Klingons and Fascist Romulans.

    Star Trek TNG & the movie franchise continued part of Roddenberry’s course but with a more PC internationalist agenda but got better and a tad more experimental after he died as this freed up a younger generation of writers to add a modern (80s) take.

    Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country and their very simplistic references to the collapse of the Soviet Union with a Klingon Gorbachev (the great David Warner) dealing with a major disaster, again a thinly disguised Chernobyl. Not a bad film as its still bit fun, even with a geriatric cast.

    The other series have highs and lows like a lot of TV until finally we have ‘Enterprise’ in the noughties, which bigs up their theme of 9/11 terrorism and the gung-ho Americanism of bringing the fight to the enemy. The end of Trek or so it seemed.

    I haven’t a clue what this Trek will be like, but I’m going to keep an eye on some of your work with team PPC, which I’m sure will have some interesting takes on promoting the franchise, hard to pin down as you said but your definitely giving a lot of thought by this blog.

    One last set of words. The Towering Inferno… wow… they don’t make’em like they used to (sic). I loved all those disaster movie posters from when I was young and they held such magic for my imagination as I couldn’t go see them, being to young for a AA cert. Ha!

    As always Dan, you’ve supplied a hefty plate of brain food today. Yum!

    Best regards,

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