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Celebrating the 40-year anniversary of an iconic Star Trek movie


When Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan appeared in movie theaters on June 4, 1982, it proved to be a surprise hit and to this day it is viewed by many as the best Star Trek movie.


The first fully computer-generated scene on the big screen

The film gave moviegoers a first taste of the possibilities afforded by computer-generated content. A revolutionary innovation at the time, which is now accepted as a matter of course in blockbuster movies.

Star Trek has not only had a major influence on sci-fi movies but also on the science-fiction genre as a whole, across a range of increasingly surprising mediums. For many, the genre of sci-fi is synonymous with Star Trek, with recurring Star Trek tropes appearing in other films, TV, video games ane even niche subgenres including online casino games inspired by movies from the franchise such as the slot titles Space Fortune, Space Spins, and Space Traders. Sci-fi's success in TV, movies and video games certainly gave the iGaming industry an opportunity to capitalize on this demand.


It was the first movie of the successful sci-fi franchise to be directed by filmmaker Nicholas Meyer, who was rewarded for his work with the Saturn Award for Best Direction. Meyer had been brought in as director after Paramount had struggled with a number of screenplay issues. Rejected plots included the crew traveling back in time to the assassination of JFK, which would have been better suited to the science fiction movie Back to the Future.

Meyer later explained that his main contribution was to bring healthy disrespect to the movie franchise. While this led to a backlash from Star Trek purists, Meyer stated it was necessary in order to make the characters “more human and a little less wooden.”

An immediate success

The movie made around $14 million on the first weekend of release, surpassing the $12 million film budget. In comparison, the previous movie in the franchise, the disappointing Star Trek: The Motion Picture, had a budget of $44 million. As the Star Trek TV series ended in 1969, this placed immense pressure on Wrath of Khan and, some say, the franchise was saved by the movie.

Meyer famously described his notion of the movie as ‘Hornblower' in outer space, creating an all-action movie, which compared positively with its more ponderous predecessor. This was helped by the presence of Ricardo Montalbán as Khan, one of the most memorable baddies in the Star Trek universe.

Another aspect that created both controversy and intense interest in the movie was the death of Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy. Though the passing of Spock was actually requested by Nimoy as he imaged that it would be his last movie and the beloved character would have the chance to “go out in a blaze of glory.”

In another first, amongst the familiar cast which included William Shatner and DeForest Kelley, was a young actress making her big screen debut. Kirstie Alley played the role of Saavik and went on to star in another 80s hit, the 1989 movie Look Who's Talking.

Ultimately, Wrath of Khan was followed by eleven more movies, including Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which was written but not directed, by Nicholas Meyer. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan saved a struggling franchise and represents yet another '80s success story!

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