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Rick Berman's First Post-NEMESIS Interview: Future of Feature Franchise Unclear

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Posted: 12:22:56 on February 04 2003
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: Star Trek: Nemesis
In his first interview since the debacle of STAR TREK NEMESIS at the North American box office, producer Rick Berman says the future of the feature franchise is uncertain and he and the studio are not ready to jump back in immediately.

"I don't think this is like falling off a horse, and you want to jump right back on it," he told Sci-Fi Wire. "There's a theory that there was too much time [between Insurrection and Nemesis]. There's another theory that there wasn't too much time. I, along with the people at Paramount, need a few months of perspective and thinking about it to then decide what's the best thing to do next."

The exec is also cautious about explaning the film's poor performance.

"There's no way of telling what happened," Berman said. "I'm convinced that we made a very good movie, and I'm also convinced that the movie was promoted properly. I thought the trailers and the television spots were all excellent. It's easy to blame that sort of thing, but I don't think we can in this situation. I think that the competition of other films may have played some part in it, but I can't be certain of that, either. It's very, very hard to tell."

STAR TREK NEMESIS debuted in U.S. and Canadian theatres on December 13th and went on to the #2 spot in its debut weekend with $18.5 million, the lowest opening weekend gross of any STAR TREK picture. The film's domestic total currently stands well short of $50 million. 1989's STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER was the previous record-holder for lowest domestic box office with $52 million.

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MYTHS ABOUT NEMESIS' FLOP
By Alawi ( ) at 13:14:19 on February 05 2003
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THE TOP MYTHS ON WHY NEMESIS FLOPPED

1. "TTT, JAMES BOND AND HARRY POTTER KILLED IT."

False. James Bond and Harry Potter had already made the bulk of their money by NEMESIS release. As far as TTT killing NEMESIS, that is an easy scapegoat. NEMESIS was released on a Friday, FIVE DAYS before TTT's Wednesday opening. It could have made bucketloads of money had both word of mouth been good and the anticipation was been there.

MAID IN MANHATTAN opened the same Friday as NEMESIS. It has so far made a very nice $92 million. The public wanted to see it.

GANGS OF NEW YORK and TWO WEEKS NOTICE were also in TTT's shadow and also made $70 million and $92 million respectively; a very respectable showing and still packing them in.

DRUMLINE, which received little or no marketing,and was released the same weekened as MAID and NEMESIS managed to make $55 million, making a tidy profit for Fox.

All the above films did VERY WELL, including an R rated, violent, 3 hour drama like GANGS OF NEW YORK.

NEMESIS has made a paltry $43 million so far. TTT DID NOT KILL NEMESIS. The above facts are evident of that.

I am not even going to mention the other films that did well while TTT was #1 including CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and JUST MARRIED.

2. "WORD OF MOUTH WAS EXCELLENT."

The Cinemascore score of A- was fact. But what does it mean anyway? Didn't INSURECTION or GENERATIONS also get an A-? Many substandard movies received A- minus. The fact is non Trekkers couldn't be bothered to see it and the ones that did, on the most part, did not like the film. Trekkers, by and large, did not like it either. The film did not please either camp.

3. "THE MARKETING WAS FINE."

Wrong. The marketing was terrible. The poster was a joke, featuring a Pinhead clone raising a dagger and two large mugs of Stewart and Spiner. No Enterprise. No battle. No drama. No reference to the nifty original Romulan and Reman twin planets. The tv spots were a rehash of previous movies and the tag line was basically a cut and paste job: "the battle for earth has begin." Not unlike INSURRECTION's "the battle for paradise has begun" or STAR TREK VI's "the battle for peace has begun." Give me a break.

You want my idea on why NEMESIS flopped? It's because people are tired of Star Trek, tired of "Enterprise," and all that followed including "Voyager," tired of oversaturation.

And most of all: INSURRECTION was a more SERIOUS blow to the TNG movie franchise than we care to admit. 4 years did not erase the stench of that putrid film. It left a very bad taste in people's mouths and alienated all the non Trekkers that had crossed over with FIRST CONTACT, not to mention regular Trekkers.

NEMESIS is a schizophrenic film; at times its marvellous and at times, its terribly tedious and uninvolving, all wrapped up in a cheap shell of a film. The editing in my viewe really HURT the film, tearing out the heart of the film, loss and ageing, etc.

The sense of pacing and editing seemed very "off" in the film. Something not quite right about it. It is not a bad film. It's not that good either.

NEMESIS had to be slam the ball out of the park in order to fix INSURRECTION'S damage. It didn't. It was mediocre.

And another thing, critical reviews, by and large, scathing and hitting below the belt (Ebert: "a copy of a copy of a copy") HURT the film.

Throw in rehashed ideas (genesis-like device, a character dying and being ressurected etc) and the freshness of a new adventure wasn't there. It didn't strike a chord with audiences expecting a large scale space epic.

Even Trekkers had already seen grander and longer battles on television (i.e VOYAGER'S 'Year of Hell' for example).

Those are my two cents mates.


[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Rick Berman - Janitor
By iam ( ) at 10:52:12 on February 05 2003
URL: http:// | User Info
Why is Rick Berman talking like he still has a job? His days are numbered. Surely the suits have discovered by now, that this man is responsible for running Trek into the ground and to it's grave. There are no other options at this point.
By the weakness of the soundtrack alone, I am cringing while waiting for Nemesis to come to the cheap theaters.
It doesn't have to be this way. Let it die.
Hopefully about 5 or 6 years after the Nemesis brewhaha has settled, The cancelled abomination called enterprise is but a sour memory, and a new Generation a trekkies grows; perhaps we will be treated to new arrival in the theatres.

"Star Trek: Resurrection (The Third Day)"
Starring......
anybody's guess....
Hey, alright so I might be dreaming. But its a good dream!

Peace and Long life
Star Trek RIP

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

test

---

-Steve Krutzler
==V/-/== Rocks

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

I didn't recommend it...
By peterfll ( ) at 06:33:28 on February 05 2003
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When a new ST film comes out, I'm normally first in line to see it. However, I didn't bother with ST:N when it finally arrived in the UK, on the back of the bad press and release in the US. I waited until I was on vacation in Canada three weeks later before I finally got to see it.

I was disappointed.

I thought Patrick Stewart was very "hammy" - since when did Picard make lots of funnies between the more serious scenes? Killing Data....... how disappointing. A bit like crashing the Enterprise D in Generations.... a worthless plot point, probably written in because Brent Spiner has the will and power to do so. But did it add anything to the ensemble of characters we have come to know and love over the years?

As for the rest of the plot..... human clone becomes leader of the Romulan senate..... hmmmm, that really plays well to established lore i.e. is totally unbeliveable in paying respect to the manner in which the Romulans have become established as a race in ST. And then he wants to wipe out life on earth using a type of weapon that we just so happens haven't heard of before, but then does it really matter....... yawn, why didn't the ST execs just use this idea for a Voyager episode involving Captain Proton?

I have a number of friends who would have gone to see the film on my recommendation. But even when my dad asked me if it was worth it, I said no, save your cinema trip for something worth while.

I don't really want to see an end to the ST movies, but I'd rather they finish it here then make another limp entry. With Berman, Stewart et al in denial over the films failure, its obvious that their egos is blinding them from the truth. You made a bad film, and you should seriously consider letting someone else take over the reigns, or let it rest.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

What about a poll?
By Hbasm ( ) at 04:17:21 on February 05 2003
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Well Steve, I was thinking.. What about making a poll on Trekweb regarding Nemesis, for example with the following options:

What do you think contributed the most to Nemesis not-so-impressive ability to draw audience:

1) bad scheduling
2) oversaturation of Star Trek in recent years
3) general competition in the sci-fi genre
4) mediocre quality of the Star Trek series
5) Nemesis wasn't good enough
6) Insurrection made people go away
7) Too much time between the movies
8) The Iraq crisis


... whatever else people have noted. Maybe a poll could help Rick Berman to see what we think. If they happen to watch Trekweb.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

New phrase
By Trekforever ( ) at 00:23:39 on February 05 2003
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I have a suggestion to Mr. Berman for a catchy phrase for the next Trek movie: "The Battle for the Box Office has just begun"
Maybe that'll get people's attention...

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Didn't 'The Recruit'
By Jean-Luc ( cooljeanluc@go.com) at 23:45:10 on February 04 2003
URL: http://home.attbi.com/~jean-luc | User Info
make number 1 this weekend with only a $16M take?

---

"...and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God." -- Ronald Reagan, January 1986

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Why I didn't go.
By trekrob ( ) at 22:46:32 on February 04 2003
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Dear Mr. Berman,

I didn't go see Nemesis (and take my wife) because I went to see Harry Potter, James Bond and The Lord of the Rings.

I have seen every other trek show made.

If there were any reviews of Nemesis, I didn't see them. No one I knew saw it to tell if it was good or bad.

I will probably buy the DVD instead.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

How do you spell Pathetic.....Current Trek Fans
By Captain J R Kirk ( ) at 21:06:30 on February 04 2003
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Seven real life explorers of outer space are killed, perhaps in a need less accident. What do we care, we are Lame Ass Trekkies and we have to fight over release dates and directors.


While I have never been a big fan of how Roddenberry mugged the franchise, he must be turring over in his urn over what has become of Trekdom. And I would agree with Gene at this point, the majority of you people make me embarassed to be a Star Trek Fan.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

"for the fans"???
By capy ( ) at 19:22:16 on February 04 2003
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Oh you *must* be joking! This film was "for the fans?" Of what series, may I ask? Certainly not Star Trek... this film was SO against type, character and form from everything that preceded it that there's no way it can be categorized as being "for the fans." The huge plot holes, the inconsistencies within the story, the inconsistencies within the Trek framework, the lack of historical continuity within the series, the lack of logic or common sense in the writing and MUCH more lead to this film alienating not only all of the fans I know but all of the intelligent non-fans I know, too. Folks, people were **laughing** during the screening I attended, and not at the "funny parts."

This film was God Awful. At least Star Trek V tried to flesh out existing characters - this film completely ignored established character patterns and personalities and tried turning them into other people.

Let's focus briefly on Picard. Would Picard, in his right mind, sally forth on a primitive culture's planet in a 4x4 with guns blazing? Would Picard pick up pieces of a positronic robot that bear a remarkable resemblance to Lore (something nobody seems to notice), a character known to consistently cause huge problems, bring them all back to the ship, then not only reassemble them but *activate* it, too? Even if I grant that he must've known it was a beacon (and I'm granting the screenplay massive undue credit in even giving that much), the Picard we all know and love would've taken far greater precautions than he did.

I won't even start on the whole "clone" thing, which was a convoluted, inconsistent mess, nor the mis-use of the rest of the crew. C'mon: the whole Troi thing was flat-out insulting (Ouiji navigation, anyone? Right up there with giving the navigation station a joystick a la "Insurrection.").

I'm sorry if I'm a touch vitriolic about this, but this film really pushed a sore point with me. I have no illusions about Star Trek - it's something I love deeply, but I also recognize it what it is. Trek has completely ceased to be about exploration of the human spirit and the Grand Adventure and is now being milked by its owners for every red cent they can get out of it. I continue to watch "Enterprise" in the hopes that it can be lifted from a fairly bland series into something uplifting and interesting - it has loads of potential - but I'm becoming increasingly skeptical of the franchise as a whole and Paramount's ability to guide it successfully back to its roots.

- CH

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What REALLY hurt the film
By compupc1 ( compupc1@charter.net) at 19:17:29 on February 04 2003
URL: http://www.geocities.com/compupc1/ | User Info
Problems that probably hurt Nemesis:
1) Release date. It was in there with Potter, TTT, and Bond. It should have been released either in October or March.

2) Over-Editing. There were 4-5 key scenes that were cut that shouldn't have been. Examples are the extended wedding, the first drink scene, the extended farewell, the explanation of the planet where they found B4, the Titan, and the bits of action from that planet and the Riker fight. I'll bet if they had allowed it to go another 20 minutes, it would have been far better of a movie. I sincerely hope they release an extended cut on DVD when Nemesis gets the 2-disc treatment. If not, I don't buy it.

3) Trying to be too much like TWOK. While the characters were different and the plot backdrop was different, nearly every single major plot point happens in both movies. You can go through and play matching. To be inspired by a movie is one thing (especially one as good as TWOK), but this is a case of direct rehash, and it's far more blatant than Trek usually does.

4) A lack of the large epic quality. These days, people are thinking in more global terms than ever before, and that's translating onto the screen of far more popular films like Star Wars and LOTR. While it's certinally good to have the film based around well developed characters (something recent Star Wars can't seem to do), you just don't get that big thrill from an epic battle anymore. Trek tries to be epic by just having the bad guy say "After I wipe out you, I'm going to wipe out Earth." Bzzzt! Sorry! That doesn't cut it! If Trek wants an epic battle, it needs to be BY EARTH, it needs to INVOLVE A LARGE FLEET against ANOTHER LARGE FLEET, and it needs to LAST MORE THAN 5 MINUTES.

5) Less important than the other reasons, but production values like the makeup, costumes, and music still need improving. If they want a truly alien species, they should NOT be 2-armed, 2-legged, 2-eyed, fleshtoned guys that just have some head makeup. We need color. We need extra arms. Or maybe some totally new type of limbs. Then we need dramatic, non-synthesized, epic music. If you're going to do an action/drama, hire Williams or Horner. If you're going to do an adventure/comedy, hire Silvestri.


---

-James

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

A few points ...
By timmer33 ( ) at 18:55:49 on February 04 2003
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I've read many comments below and I have a few items to add. Firstly, I do think the film was released at a bad time. HOWEVER, I think Paramount still has reason to wonder if this really is true. After all, there wasn't much competition on the weekend it was released, and yet NEM couldn't come first. I mean ... J. LO beat it! Why is this? There is obviously something else at work here ... it wasn't just LOTR that hurt it. Well, this brings me to my second point. Some people have said that there needs to be a longer hiatus before the next Trek film. I totally disagree!! I think the 4 years between the trek films hurt NEM. They should strike again, quickly, especially after they achieved an A- grade with moviegoers. You may see a bigger opening weekend. After NEM is seen on video/dvd it could generate greater numbers for the next one. As for someone who asked me to explain why INS is a bad film ... I mean, come on. The story wasn't even as good as a bad episode, the action was dismal, the cave scene was terrible, the child & Data storyline was so bad it was bizarre, and there really was no threat to the cast at all. It was an all-around terrible movie. A couple scenes stand out as being the worst in Trek history: Data & Picard sing Gilbert & Sullivan; Riker and his joystick. Terrible.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Ricks living in a Bubble
By cooper2000 ( ) at 18:07:28 on February 04 2003
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I knew that when Rick made a comment about the film he would, as always, not really deal with the issue or the cold hard facts.
As the other posts represent here, the release was bad, the film was edited to death, the marketing was terrible. He refuses to believe any of this?!

As always the fans have the pulse of what's going on with Trek and Rick doesn't. It doesn't surprise me at all because this is nothing new. He is obviously living inside a bubble of sorts or he refuses to look at the truth that a lot (not everyone) but allot, of fans aren't happy with Trek in general and it needs more creative control.
Until he sees this, the franchise will stay Exactly as it is, stale.

I do disagree with the statement that it was strictly for the fans. Footage was cut to make it for mass audiences and look what happened? they didn't come and it alienated the fans.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

The problem
By Captain Jim ( ) at 17:58:47 on February 04 2003
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If you ask me, the biggest problem with this movie was the director, who had no interest in ST continuity. He said, as far as he was concerned, this was the first ST movie. They filmed an extra 35 minutes or so, but he never intended to use any of it from the very beginning. He knew nothing about the characters and would not listen to comments or suggestions from the cast, who have been playing the role for seven seasons on TV and three previous films. Nor does he have any intention of editing any of that material back into the DVD. If you ask me, the real wonder is that the movie was as good as it was, given the circumstances.

Of course, you can't place all the blame on him. Rick Berman, who's idea it was to pass over past directors in favor of somebody new, has to share some too.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

blah, blah, blah
By Akita1999 ( ) at 17:57:52 on February 04 2003
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If I'm reading between the lines correctly, it appears that Berman is well aware of many the reasons set forth by others for Nemesis' poor financial performance. I understand that he can't admit that any of them are accurate because that would be acknowledging that the poor performance resulted from mistakes made by the production team and suits at Paramount. He's certainly not going to bite the hand that feeds him, so he'll never blame Paramount's scheduling idiocy as a key reason for Nemesis' financial failure. He also won't admit that Baird screwed up the editing and ripped the heart out of Logan's script (which left much to be desired in the first place).

So the bottom line to me is -- regardless of how you feel about the movie's quality or reasons for its failure -- what's next for Trek? Will there be another feature film? Do you think that Enterprise will improve now that Paramount is focusing solely on the series? Will Nemesis' poor performance result in a shorter life for Enterprise?

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

It's either...
By jkoolpe ( ) at 17:35:44 on February 04 2003
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It's either one of two scenarios:

1. Berman is truly blind to his own stupidity, or

2. Berman is evading the problem to protect his job.

I mean...really...it doesn't take Einstein to tell that the film's release date was unbelievably ill-conceived and that the ad campaign was mediocre at best. I'm not in "the business" and even I can tell this. My brother made the same comment about the lack of an ad campaign when I asked him why he wasn't excited about Nemesis while he couldn't wait to see TTT (he used to be a big Trek fan).

If the film had been released right now, for instance, it would have been No. 1 for at least a couple of weeks and probably have made more money overall in the long haul. Just look at the competition right now...Kangaroo Jack? Of course, I probably shouldn't say anything 'cause that turd of a movie is probably going to make more than Nemesis (which is TRULY sad!)...but it does show you what an aggressive marketing campaign can accomplish when an obviously awful movie like KJ is promoted so heavily that people go to see it anyways...

But more than anything else is the simple fact that the 10+ years of Berman Trek have left the vast majority of the fans flat and therefore simply not interested in Trek anymore:(. Most of my friends who fervently watched TNG and most of DS9 have long since abandoned the franchise (about mid-Voyager). So even a good movie isn't going to bring many of them back because they just don't care and/or aren't excited anymore about Trek...

No, the only thing that will save Trek now is for it to go on hiatus for a few years and return with a completely new creative team and an agressive ad campaign to promote it...

Jon

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Putting Blame Where Blame is Due
By Ranillon ( ) at 17:29:59 on February 04 2003
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While some other influences no doubt contributed to the disappointing ticket sales for Nemesis, in the final analysis its failure lies with one simple truth -- it wasn't a very good film. I don't say that lightly -- I've always been a big fan of the series and I've always tended to give the movies the greatest amount of doubt. However, in this case the numerous flaws of Nemesis are far too much to ignore. The fact that Berman is either unable or unwilling to admit the poor quality of Nemesis not speak well of the near future of the fanchise. You can't fix a problem until you see it for what it is. He seems to have lost the necessary perspective to judge his work objectively. Unless he can regain it I submit it is time for him to tactfully hand control of the franchise to someone else.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Blind and Stupid
By Willieboy65 ( ) at 17:09:50 on February 04 2003
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"I think that the competition of other films may have played some part in it, but I can't be certain of that, either. It's very, very hard to tell."

Hard to tell? Does Berman think we're all dumb asses ? His statement is moronic and degrades us all. Nemesis clearly didn't have a chance against Lord of The Rings- Nothing would. Hey Rick, Why don't you join ex-Buffalo Bill kicker Scott Norwood in asking "Would you like fries with that?"

---

"If the Apocalypse comes, beep me"- Buffy

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Slashdotted
By Steve Krutzler ( s_krutzler@trekweb.com) at 16:05:12 on February 04 2003
URL: http://trekweb.com/brittandsteve | User Info
Please bear with us as TrekWeb is inundated with hits from Slashdot.org, who posted a link to this story.

---

-Steve Krutzler
==V/-/== Rocks

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Dear Berman:
By timmer33 ( ) at 13:55:46 on February 04 2003
URL: | User Info
Reasons why the film failed: ONE: Insurrection was such a poor film that it turned some people off Trek for good. TWO: It was released too close to The Two Towers. THREE: You may think the promotion was good, but the poster was terrible and I didn't see many trailers before other films. FOUR: Although I hate to say it, the movie was strictly "for the fans." I like that fact, but you're not going to draw in the mainstream audience with a film like that. The film was liked by most who saw it --- exit polls gave it a stunning A-. That's an excellent grade. There were just too many things stacked against it. Why wasn't it released in November or January??? It seems like the studio wanted this thing to fail. Anyway Mr. Berman, as I said earlier, if you integrate cut scenes into the movie on DVD I'll buy it. If you just stick them on as "extras" then I won't purchase it. Picture this marketing campaign: "Coming this March ... Nemesis on DVD ... with all new scenes added! Twenty minutes of new footage!" It'll get more people to buy it --- from what others have said on Trekweb, I'm positive of that fact. Don't wait too long for the next film, if there is a next one.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Great...
By Trekforever ( ) at 12:56:26 on February 04 2003
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I have full confidence that the exact same people who decided on NEMESIS' release date and promotion will be the right people to figure out what exactly went wrong.
Why does the phrase "The blind leading the blind" seem to come to mind?

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

At least he didn't blame it all on the poor fans who did everything we could to see it more than once and take others too...

---

Ah, Microbrain! Growl for me one more time. Let me know you still care!
-Q, "Q Who?"

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Okkkaaayyyy. . .
By nitflegal ( ) at 12:35:51 on February 04 2003
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So, the movie was excellent, the promotion was fine, and there might be a possibility that releasing it next to juggernaught or two might have had an impact. I sure hope that they've got some other people doing the analysis of what happened. Regardless of its merits as a film it flopped. I sure hope that they figure out why and fix it for the next one, assuming (and hoping) that there is one.

Matt

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