Star Trek: The Motion Picture’s Crumbling Visual Effects Had Paramount Desperate For Help

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Written By Sedoso Feb

As Trumbull explained to TrekMovie.com’s Brian Drew in 2019, in 1979 he was working for Paramount via his own entity, entitled Future General Corporation. Trumbull was hoping to develop “all kinds of new technologies for simulation rides, video games, and motion picture technology — high frame rate, stuff that led to the Showscan process,” referring to a process he’d invented which involves 70mm film being projected at 60 frames per second. The filmmaker, who’d directed “Silent Running” earlier in the decade, was also at work developing his next feature as a director, called “Brainstorm.”

Sadly, it became clear to Trumbull that Paramount was keeping him around for help on their own productions, like “Star Trek” as it inched closer to its locked release date. Trumbull elaborated on the rock and a hard place the studio found themselves in with the movie, especially with regard to the film’s original visual effects company, Robert Abel and Associates. As he explained:

“The production was going ahead, the live action was all shot, but none of the visual effects were working. The company they hired to do the visual effects was basically failing. The studio was extremely upset about it because they were being threatened by a class-action lawsuit from the exhibitors if they didn’t deliver the movie on schedule. So that was the dynamics that surrounded the movie, that the exhibitors were going to target Paramount in a class-action lawsuit to kill what they call Blind Bidding, because exhibitors have paid in advance for the right to show the movie. So Paramount was sitting on a bunch of money, I think it was around $30 million dollars in advance payments. And they didn’t want to be sued and they didn’t want to go bankrupt, so they determined that they had to just pull out all the stops and try to get the movie done.”

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