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Rick Berman: NEMESIS B.O. Suggests Softening Fan Support; Plus Producer Talks Future Films

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Posted: 09:35:53 on March 04 2003
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: Star Trek: Nemesis
Producer Rick Berman talks extensively about the box office performance of STAR TREK NEMESIS in his latest Update with the Star Trek Communicator for issue #143, hitting newsstands soon. NEMESIS made less than $50 million domestically, making it the lowest-grossing of all ten STAR TREK pictures. Berman, however, is weary of the culprit.

"It is really easy to be a Monday-morning quarterback. You can blame it on the competition, you can blame it on what month it was scheduled to be released in, you can blame it on the movie itself, you can blame it on the fan base deteriorating to some degree," Berman told Dan Madsen. "I think it is silly to make a guess as to what causes a film to do very well or not do very well."

Berman is open to the possibility that the STAR TREK franchise is simply over-saturated right now.

"Star Trek can be over-exposed; the audience can be saturated with Star Trek," he says. "It is definitely a possibility. But I think that if you look at the first night grosses of the movie,which are almost entirely fans, the fact that those first-night and second-night numbers were considerably down from previous movies tells me that the fans were just not coming out like they were before."

Berman says he and the studio were confident with the film's marketing campaign and didn't feel like MAID IN MANHATTAN constituted "major competition." He continues that less fans turned out than for previous movies.

"I think the fact that the first weekend boxoffice was down is definitely an indication that the fans were holding back a little bit. That is certainly a major comment, and whether that has to do with the over-saturation of Star Trek is a very valid question."

He also says that STAR TREK's audience has aged considerably since TNG, when asked by Madsen what he thinks STAR TREK's main audience is today.

"If you realize that The Next Generation has been off the air for eight years, the fans of that series have obviously gotten eight years older," he admits. "Indeed, the younger ones are no longer young, and the older ones are eight years older. I think that... that the audience has grown a bit older and the younger audiences are more familiar with Deep Space Nine and Voyager and Enterprise. I think the fact that our core audience has gotten a little bit older is something hard to ignore."

Although he says the studio has not begun discussing the fate of the STAR TREK movie franchise, Berman thinks taking advantage of the now five television series with a mixed-cast movie could be feasible.

"I have discussed it with a few people," Berman says. "Itís possible. Obviously, we did that with GENERATIONS. Now that we have The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, I think the sky is the limit in terms of mixing and matching... If people knew what it would take to make box-office hits they would be very rich. Whether it means a change in cast or a partial change in cast, or whether it means a longer wait, or it means a drastic change in concept, I donít know. We will obviously be discussing that over the next year, and everybody will take an educated guess."

The exec also discusses the STAR TREK NEMESIS DVD as well as additional discussion of ENTERPRISE and the NEMESIS aftermath in issue #143 of the Star Trek Communicator, which will be available soon. The issue also features an interview with ENTERPRISE writer/producer Chris Black, a feature on the TOS episode "Journey to Babel," and a new interview with Anthony Montgomery. You can read some of Berman's ENTERPRISE remarks here.

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save trek!
By JediFonger ( ) at 18:08:39 on March 09 2003
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if you want to save star trek check this out:

www.startrekcampaign.com

---

"LET THEM DIE!!!"

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

check this out:
By JediFonger ( ) at 18:05:58 on March 09 2003
URL: | User Info
if you want to save star trek check this out:

www.startrekcampaign.com

---

"LET THEM DIE!!!"

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Oh Boy
By Iron Helix ( ) at 00:46:54 on March 08 2003
URL: http://www.maniacalmonkeys.net/ | User Info
Rick Berman is in denial...

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Still too many to blame
By Hawk11 ( ) at 12:47:04 on March 06 2003
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I think everyone gets so upset because of the so many factors there are to blame for this movie.
My true belief is just that if this were going to be the end of a 15 year run of a series it just should have been on more of a epic proportion with all the characters. It should have been something that had everyone talking about. The kind of movie that would make the youth who didn't know as much about the series want to find out where it all started.
Berman and Paramount could have made so much more of what they needed to by reinventing where TNG came from. All they have done is make money over the last 30+ years of Star Trek, so there really is never any loss with any of the movies or TV shows. So when it comes to something like this we should never hear any talk of time or budget.
Dorn and McFadden didn't even wat to come back to make this movie and no one can blame them either. I watched the little premiere clips they had on the website and to me it seemed like none of them wanted to be there.
Nemesis was not a bad movie, wasn't great, but wasn't bad. Yeah, everyone has thrown out their comments about what could have been changed, so why ramble on anymore about it. With all the bad talk about from both the fans and the critics I'm sure most just said "well the DVD will be out in May so I can wait."
Personally I think the funniest part of the whole thing was the title of movie "Nemesis." anyone who ever saw that little spoof flik "Trekkies" knows that some 15 year old kid used that for the title for his own little homemade ST movie that involved the Romulans as well.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

It is B & B's fault
By wlisak ( ) at 03:26:50 on March 05 2003
URL: http://members.xoom.com/wlisak | User Info
It really bugs me when Berman and Braga complain about the failure of Star Trek over the past few years and wonder what or who to blame.

The failure of Trek rests squarely in their hands, and the hands of the writers they hired to write for the various series.

What made TNG so special, and what resurrected Star Trek was not simply the fact that it was the return of a cult classic. TNG built a new audience. This audience was built with stories and characters writen by great writers (and, incidentaly, open script taken writers). I challenge you to find a writer who has writen both the story and teleplay for more than 10 episodes. You won't find one. So there was diversity of ideas and product.

But I rant...

Arguably, Trek began to fail with Voyager. Some say DS9 - but I liked it, so I won't name it.

I say Voyager - season 4+. What happened? Branon Braga took over the show. What was a very interesting Maquis joining Starfleet story that was an important topic of the first few seasons was dropped, and boring, plot driven, badly written episodes became the norm.

Remember, Braga has admitted that continuity doesn't matter to him - which Trek fans like. Second, where or not he has said it, he also opted to treat the fans of idiots. Because the episodes he wrote, and the writers he hired, were so inept at producing interesting stories, that what we got was repeat after repeat. Oh, the episodes were new - but in title and wording only.

Voyager's audience started to fall off as the series progressed... I wonder why. DS9s also fell off... but I say because the theme of the series was not what fans liked. While DS9 did not have the quantity of quality episodes that TNG had, it topped Voyager by 10 - 1.

Now we have Enterprise. ... Well it's just plain bad. I can't even watch a whole episode because either the character of Archer of the way Scott Bakula protrays him makes me throw up. Oh yeah, and they've pretty much thrown away continuity in all of trek, and within it's own established timeline... and they've redone the same episodes that Voyager redid from TNG. I can't stand it.

Now we know i am not the only one who thinks this way. We know people love Enterprise and Voyager. But the fact of the matter is, Voyager and Ent are so crappy that I am not surprised Nemesis failed as badly as it did.

Fans who liked TNG don't want to watch it because they think it'll be like the current series. New fans... well, I can't imagine new fans anymore.

I hope so very much (as I hoped a few yaers ago when Voyager was bombing), that P-mount will dump B & B, kill Enterprise, and put Star Trek away for 5 or 10 years. Finaly bringing it back with all new people, or tried and true people. Like Ronald D. Moore.

Remember why Moore left Voyager after only one episode? Because what he wrote was intelligent and required thought. And the episodes and directions he wanted to go in were intelligent. And Braga would not include him in how the series was going.

But I rant...

~D

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Another reason
By Mage66 ( alhartman@yahoo.com) at 20:48:49 on March 04 2003
URL: http://www.geocities.com/alhartman | User Info
Another reason that Berman didn't address is simply how expensive it is to go to a movie these days...

Ticket and food prices at theatres have gone through the roof, and I simply can't afford to spend twice the price of a good meal to go to a movie.

I tend to only go to movies that I really MUST see right away. Otherwise I wait for it to come out on video.

I go to less than 3 movies a year because $8.00 for a ticket, plus another $6 - $10 for Popcorn (costs $1.00 for 4 bags at the supermarket) and Soda (.99 for a 2 liter bottle at the store) just isn't worth it to me.

If they want to make more money for films, do whatever it takes to get ticket prices back down.

A ticket for a movie shouldn't cost more than $4.00, and Soda and Popcorn should go back to normal pricing.

I shouldn't pay more for Soda and Popcorn at a movie than I do at a convenience store. Maybe fractionally more, but not 500% more.

But, if the movie were worth seeing, I'd go. And Nemesis was OK. But not worth going on the first night, not being able to park at the theatre because of all the people going to the OTHER movies, and the long lines for tickets, Popcorn and Soda BECAUSE of the other movies, etc....

Nemesis will do well on DVD and Video.

Maybe they ought to condsider direct to home video releases of a new Star Trek series...

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

After reading the....
By CahnMan ( m2cahn@mindspring.com) at 20:16:00 on March 04 2003
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...parent topics in this thread, I have a few things to say.

I completely agree with Steve's comments and original review of the movie. Nemesis was the best TNG movie to date, even with the character scene cuts -- which I also agree with Steve should have been kept in. I really, really hope that someone at P-mount will listen to the fans when the movie comes out on DVD and restore the movie to its original cut, or as close to it as possible.

In another thread, I said that "Insurrection", like STIV: The Voyage Home" for TOS, had the most heart of the TNG movies. But it sounds to me as though they would have matched that with the lost Nemsis scenes and, therefore, made this one of the best ST movies, period.

Whatever Berman wants to blame is his problem. Whatever fate awaits him because of his inability -- and, apparently, P-mount's -- to see the true causes of the film's lackluster performance (at least in the States) is his problem, too.

For us, we need to keep up the chatter on these boards and other sites across the Web and in print (I write a newspaper column in addition to being a reporter) to pressure TPTB to get things right. Not just for "the fans" or even "the franchise" but for the sake of what Gene Roddenberry's vision of Star Trek stood for: An optimistic future that was still filled with intrigue, drama, humor, and intelligence.

On a final note, I want to dispute some of you nay-sayers about a mixed cast. I also mention on another thread that "Insurrection" left a major plot-line open that was not resolved by "Nemsis". In INS, Picard learns that Starfleet, and possibly the Federation, compromised their values by hooking up with the So'na. In essence, there is corruption at the heart of the ST universe.

I would have absolutely no problem with a movie storyline where Sisko returns from the Prophets to urge Picard to go back to Earth and deal with things. His reappearance could pave the way to working with DS9 characters and, once they return to Earth, with VOY characters as well.

Of course you would have to be careful how to mix the casts. Worf is the one crossover member between TNG and DS9, so that helps a little, but there's no reason some of the members of both later casts couldn't have major supporting roles and guest appearances. In my opinion, this would be an ideal way to have TNG pass the torch to DS9 and/or VOY.

After that, I think TNG should sail off into the sunset. And I don't believe ENT should be in the movies at all until it's off the air, whenever that turns out to be.

Don't get me wrong, a non-mixed cast movie will still be just fine in my book ... if it's a great story, with great direting, acting, cinematography, and, apparently in this day and age, marketing.

---

Martin L. Cahn

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Don't read too much into it, either, folks
By rumandchocolate ( ) at 19:44:02 on March 04 2003
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By what I read in this excerpt, Berman didn't blame the fans at all.

He said that fewer fans turned out for this film than the previous films. Well, that's a fact supported by the box office gross.

What he doesn't answer because he cannot pinpoint it with any definity is why the fans turned away. And he admits that you can speculate about a million factors that may have contributed to the film's failure (the timing of the release, the marketing, the Trek-saturated market).

While he doesn't say, "Yeah... this whole thing is my/Paramount's/Braga's/TPTB fault," he accepts a certain measure of blame and swallows his pride when he says that he did not think "Maid in Manhattan" would be such big competition, for instance. He's saying that over-saturating the market with Trek may have contributed.

He's saying that he doesn't know why it bombed. And no one can definitively say that it must be this reason or it must be that reason because there's a whole slew of possible reasons. If people could pinpoint the success/failure of a film with such accuracy then every movie made by said individual would be a hit and would make Titanic numbers (which Berman also states)!

Great movies sometimes bomb at the box office.

Bad movies sometimes do great.

The mechanisms behind their success/failure is complex and cannot be attributed to any single factor.

That's all it seems like Berman is saying here.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

PARAMOUNT S.O.S !!!
By lightstar ( lightstar) at 17:14:28 on March 04 2003
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Paramount, did you read that interview?!
I'm a LIFE-LONG Star Trek fan and after
reading that interview I'm SCREAMING MAD!!! I've tried my best to cut B&B some slack, but that interview was the
Kiss of Death! for Berman.

SAVE STAR TREK!!!

SPACE and Star Trek have Unlimited possibilites and yet for years we've been getting the same fare. It does not
take a Vulcan to see how illogical that
is.

I believe that Joss Whedon and some of
his writing friends can Save Star Trek.
Whedon will bring Direction, Passion,
CHARACTER, and Action to Star Trek.
Plus, many Star Trek fans are also Buffy
and Angel fans so Paramount will get not
only the Star Trek fan base but the Buffy/Angel fans as well!

Paramount,if you want to Reenergize the
fans, bring in Fresh Blood. It has to start at the top.

As for NEMESIS, I liked it. It was a
good movie, not great, but the second
best TNG movie after First Contact. However, the marketing campaign was atrocious. I LOVE movies, I go to movies all the time, and I didn't even
know When Nemesis was supposed to come
out until just before it was released.
ALSO, releasing it a week before LOTR/TTT ?!? Did some alien remove the
brain of whoever decided that??? ARGH!!!


---

"The Force will be with you...Always."
Obi-Wan Kenobi

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

"cartoon" movies
By Cylykon ( ) at 16:38:37 on March 04 2003
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"Cartoon" movies seem to be doing well... Perhaps it's time to put "The Return" on film?

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Well, it's good to see that he at least accepted the fact that certain phenomena are at work: media saturation of the franchise, and the aging (i.e.: original STAR TREK fan attrition due to Baby Boomer mortality).

Too bad he didn't get that saturation was a concern back in 1995 and 1996 when the fans themselves brought it up and when it might have made a difference.

But as for the "core" fanbase shrinking, that's both true and not. It's true that the original cohort of fans who watched the original Star Trek are aging and riding the mortality curve. That means that with each year, a larger proportion of committed Trekkies are those who got initated with one of the sequel shows.

But with that in mind, the "core" audience seems to be pretty much intact since 1999. See the post "DS9 v ENT Viewrship" on Shore Leave Forum for a discussion of these numbers.

---

Oh very clever Worf. Eat any good books lately?
-Q, "Deja Q"

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

NEWSFLASH: Berman to take over the UN
By Cpt. Insano ( ) at 15:29:42 on March 04 2003
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In a dramatic move today, the entire UN members and associated staff were let go and are to be replaced next week by one man: Rick Berman.

President Bush said it is a bold move to improve efficiency and clarity. Star Trek has long stood for peace and understanding, so it makes sense to get the world's foremost expert involved. " Rather than have thousands of people running around with no clue what to do or when to quit, now we've streamlined the process into one person".

The US representative on the council was heard to breathe a long sign of relief. "The Iraq situation has made a punching bag out of the US, and I personally can't think of a better use for Mr Berman, he'll excel"

The Iraqi delegate, for once, looked happy too. There was a brief cackle of laughter before he ran away. He had however left in such a hurry that he forgot his cellphone. The NSA found one SMS on it " Abdul! to baghdad back please! invade US tomorrow we do!"

Mr Berman is the producer of the once-popular Star Trek franchise.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

No mixed cast - go new!
By compupc1 ( compupc1@charter.net) at 15:14:04 on March 04 2003
URL: http://www.geocities.com/compupc1/ | User Info
I would NOT reccomend doing a mixed-cast film. At this point, I think the only thing that will work is to start TOTALLY fresh. We need a NEW bunch of 4-5 tops (wake up and get over the fetish with 7-member crews...that's TOO MANY for the casual viewer to learn to care about in the space of 2 hours). I mean, if you want to maybe have one character be an old favorite, that would be nice, or maybe have a couple cameos, but basically you need an all-new cast.

---

-James

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

ARGH
By Flake ( flaky@ukonline.co.uk) at 13:49:17 on March 04 2003
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For the millionth time: NO MIXED-CAST MOVIE.

CROSSOVER POTENTIAL = ZERO
BOMB POTENTIAL = 100%

Wake up! TNG was behind only the TOS cast in terms of its potential to pull in people who arent hardened fans, making any sort of DS9/VOY/ENT or a mixture of the three will only fragment those who saw Nemesis and result in an even lower box office take!

DS9, Voyager and Enterprise have not penetrated into the mass audience like TNG and TOS did, no one will bother to go and watch because of all the years of baggage and backstory that comes with the characters, and mixing them up does nothing but complicate things even more. You MUST be aware of this!!

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

  • RE: ARGH by Blok_Narpin @ 11:03:15 ET on 5 Mar
Armchair Quarterback?
By B ( bharvard@mythicaljourneys.com) at 13:33:19 on March 04 2003
URL: www.CTFaire.com | User Info
Berman says: "It is really easy to be a Monday-morning quarterback. You can blame it on the competition, you can blame it on what month it was scheduled to be released in, you can blame it on the movie itself, you can blame it on the fan base deteriorating to some degree. I think it is silly to make a guess as to what causes a film to do very well or not do very well."


What is he, nuts? We all thought it was pure idiotic a year prior to the films release that he had it up against Potter and Frodo. Any bonehead could have figured that out, but no no. Berman won't take any of the blame on himself.

Please, TPTB, hire someone to bring in common sense to the Trek franchise.

---

Brian Harvard
www.CTFaire.com

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Berman's world
By psp1 ( ) at 13:24:05 on March 04 2003
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I really wonder which world Berman inhabits. He must be in a different quantum phase of existence.

He can accept no personal responsibility for a venture that failed that is under his total control. Psychiatrists view this as one of the syptoms of dementia.

It's not bad enough he has besmirched the 'Star Trek' name- now he has to blame the 'aging' fans that have loyally stuck by the franchise until he decimated it to the point of unrecognizability.



---

psp1

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

denial
By cooper2000 ( ) at 12:43:45 on March 04 2003
URL: | User Info
Rick is still in denial.
How can you blame age or oversaturation. Plain and simple, if it were good, regardless of age, people are going to tune in.
If there were 4 Trek shows on air now and they were all amazingly written, I would set my recorder every night.
It comes down to the writing and the blandness of the show.
Enterprise is not an appointment show and as far as Nemesis, I think they said it best in that TV guide article in the sidebar. You dont make a Trek movie and cut out all the character stuff people have been waiting for.
They went for action over Trek characters and they got there just rewards.
Thanks Rick.
Wake up!!!

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

unbeleiveable!
By Beckett ( email@jonathan-davies.net) at 12:04:23 on March 04 2003
URL: http://www.jonathan-davies.net | User Info
The guy actually doesn't seem any blame resting on his shoulders - I really did laugh out loud when he ran through the reasons!

To me a mixed cast movie would be pure tackyness! Oh, what a co-incidence these guys got together, maybe a couple of characters at most, but they needs to stick with one core cast and ship etc I think. Unless they did a major Federation story, but with the Dominion War gone (i.e you missed your chance by choosing Insurrection Rick) such a plot may be contrived. As Steve rightly pointed out the next film needs a very different ST 1/4 approach where its not the end of the world for the Federation once again.

As for saying the show is 8 years older, err did he here of that TOS movie stint?

---

---------------------------------------
Nemesis had all the right buttons there waiting to be pressed, but like Data on a Reman keypad Paramount seem to have pushed the wrong ones. :/

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

aging fans
By sky ( ) at 12:03:02 on March 04 2003
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Glad to see Berman figured out that the fans are aging. I saw the first nine Trek movies on opening night. But now I'm older and have young kids and it's not that easy to jump out and see a show. We couldnt find a sitter for NEM. But we did line one up for the next week and went to see "LOTR: Two Towers." We didnt get around to NEM for weeks thereafter.

So here's two lessons for B&B from our experience -- a lot of long-time fans are older and less flexible when it comes to turning out for movies. And a lot of us are bored with Trek, especially the current product, and will opt for new, fresh things when given the choice.

It's time for TPTB to rethink the whole movie idea. The movie franchise was initially launched to feed the demand for TOS from fans who spent a decade watching reruns and writing letters. The TNG movies followed on this momentum.

Now P-mount should consider made-for-TV Trek movies. You can operate at a lower budget, make 3-4 mixed cast movies a year, and have TV events that can pull up the sagging UPN ratings.

---

"When I was your age, I didn't watch television! I LIVED! So... move out of your parent's basements!"

-- William Shatner on SNL, 1986

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Hope?
By Rat Boy ( ) at 11:44:14 on March 04 2003
URL: | User Info
link

Hell, if Battlefield Earth can get resurrected in home video rentals, then surely NEM will get a second shot.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Placement of One's Head
By Snails ( ) at 11:00:40 on March 04 2003
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It seems to me TPTB have gone from placing their head in the sand to placing it in another part of their anatomy (or is it the other way around ?)

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Stupid logic
By dinzy ( ) at 10:53:18 on March 04 2003
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Assuming only fans go on the first weekend is ludicrous at best. The fan base staying exactly the same and no one else going on the 1st weekend still explains the decline. Though I think both factors played a role.

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Read between the lines
By Corran_Horn ( ) at 10:01:35 on March 04 2003
URL: | User Info
"You can blame it on the competition, you can blame it on what month it was scheduled to be released in, you can blame it on the movie itself, you can blame it on the fan base deteriorating to some degree".

Looks like you got it right Rick, and you are blaming it for those reasons. That is exactly why it failed. You put a mediocre film with poor marketing coupled with a fan base already weary of BermanTrek in DIRECT competition with Lord of The Rings and a slew of children's movies at Christmas.

"I think it is silly to make a guess as to what causes a film to do very well or not do very well."

Why is that silly? You did a good job guessing.



---

Q: "What do I have to do to convince you that I'm human?"

Worf: "Die."

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]