On Blu-rays: Paramount Celebrates Star Trek’s Emerald Anniversary with a 4K Release of Four Classic Kirk-Era Films

Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Tuesday, August 31, 2021. It’s another hot, humid late summer day, Florida style. Currently, the temperature is 87˚F (31˚C) under sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the southwest at 6 MPH (10 KM/H) and humidity at 56%, the heat index is 96˚F (35˚C). Today’s forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies. The high will be 90˚F (32˚C). Tonight, we can expect partly cloudy skies and a low of 77˚F (25˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 45 or Good.

(C)2021 Paramount Home Media Distribution

Next week marks the 55th Anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek: The Original Series.[1] That’s right, the original missions of the USS Enterprise and her crew, led by Capt. James T. Kirk (William Shatner), First Officer/Science Officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and Chief Medical Officer Leonard “Bones” McCoy, MD (DeForest Kelley) debuted on NBC on Tuesday, September 8, 1966. Never a top contender in the Nielsen ratings during its three seasons on network television, Star Trek: The Original Series nevertheless became a cultural phenomenon almost as soon as its 79 aired episodes hit the syndication market, first in the U.S., then world-wide.

Since the late 1970s, Star Trek: The Original Series has expanded into a multimedia franchise that includes canonical TV spinoffs such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, and Star Trek: Discovery. The franchise also encompasses non-canonical novels and comics published by Pocket Books and IDW, respectively.

So it’s no surprise that Paramount Home Media Distribution is celebrating Star Trek’s Emerald Anniversary with next Tuesday’s release of Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection, an eight-disc box set that marks the first 4K UHD Blu-ray release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986).

Per Paramount’s announcement as posted on Blu-ray.com:

Paramount Home Media Distribution will bring to 4K Blu-ray the original four Star Trek movies: Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock, and The Voyage Home. Currently, the release is set to arrive on the market on September 7.

Of course, I already set aside a portion of my limited personal expenses budget (I pay the Caregiver rent for my tiny bedroom/study) for this and pre-ordered Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection, even though it comes with four of the six feature films that centered on The Original Series cast.

(Why Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) were excluded from this box set is a matter for speculation. My guess is that Paramount and CBS/Viacom want to see how well this set sells before releasing a larger six, 10, or 13 film box set that includes the four movies based on The Next Generation and the Bad Robot/Paramount Kelvin Timeline soft reboots from 2009-2016.)

Sadly, Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection won’t include the 2001 Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture on 4K or Blu-ray even though CBS Studios, the current owner of all things Trek, hired the digital team that worked with the late Robert Wise to match the first Star Trek movie to the director’s vision. According to the fan website TrekCore.com:

Nearly two years after first concrete rumors about bringing Robert Wise’s fan-preferred Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture back out of DVD-era exile first began, those hopes have finally been confirmed in a new announcement made today.

Only ever available on standard-definition Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Edition was a hit with fans, trimming down overly-long scenes and enhancing unsatisfactory visual effects with then-state-of-the-art digital updates…. but in the 20 years since The Director’s Edition arrived, fans have been clamoring to see that version of the movie upgraded to a high-definition release.

(C) 2021 Paramount Home Media Distribution

Unfortunately, it looks as though physical media fans – including Yours Truly – will have to wait a while until Paramount releases the Director’s Edition on 4K UHD Blu-ray discs. When the restoration team finishes the time consuming and expensive process of upgrading Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition to ultra-high definition standards, it will head first to Star Trek’s current home, CBS/Viacom’s Paramount+ streaming service.Perhaps, after a year on that format, we’ll see a physical media release; in that sense, Paramount has – thus far – done better than The Walt Disney Company; all of its new Star Trek shows get Blu-ray releases eight or nine months after their season finales. In contrast, I have yet to see Lucasfilm announce physical media releases of Star Wars: The Mandalorian or The Bad Batch.)

On the brighter side of things, the Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection comes with enough positive features, such as an isolated audio track with Jerry Goldsmith’s classic score on the 4K UHD version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as well as two cuts of Nicholas Meyer’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The “regular” Blu-rays, presumably, are identical to the discs in 2009’s six-film Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture Collection and will have the same extra features.

As I said earlier, Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection is scheduled to ship out a week from today. But considering the problems Paramount had with June’s release of Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection, I am steeling myself for delays with my pre-order. Based on that nerve-racking experience, I will hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

And on that note, Dear Reader, this is where we part company – at warp speed. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and live long and prosper.

Sources:

Director’s Edition of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE to Be Remastered, Restored for 4K Release

Paramount: Four Classic Star Trek Films Heading to 4K Blu-ray


[1] Since the early 1990s, Paramount Pictures and the current owners of the franchise, CBS/Viacom, have used this retronym to differentiate Gene Roddenberry’s original 1966-1969 series from the larger Star Trek franchise, which now includes 13 feature films and nine TV shows. The studio – and fans – also use the acronym TOS as a convenient and concise identifier.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

2 thoughts on “On Blu-rays: Paramount Celebrates Star Trek’s Emerald Anniversary with a 4K Release of Four Classic Kirk-Era Films

  1. Well, 5 was pretty dreadful. I could see why they wouldn’t include it nor invest the expense into 4K Ultra-HD for it. But 6 was fantastic. I wouldn’t invest in another set unless it included at least all of the six TOS films. I could live without 5 but they would include it regardless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I bought this set (which I don’t think I’ll get tomorrow) despite its lack of The Final Frontier and The Undiscovered Country for various reasons. First, because I love those four films (er, okay…I like Star Trek I but it’s not my fave) and want to see them on 4K. Second, I see this partial release as Paramount testing the waters for fan interest in physical media. If this set sells well, then the studio will support 4K Blu-rays and keep releasing Star Trek and other titles on discs. If it undersells, then CBSViacom and Paramount will focus only on streaming. And that would suck big time. Streaming has its advantages, I know, but it doesn’t have as good a video/audio quality as physical media, plus its performance is predicated on bandwith availability.

      Liked by 1 person

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