Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon in Lithia, Florida, on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. It is a hot summer day in the Tampa Bay area. Currently, the temperature is 92°F (33°C) under mostly sunny conditions. With the wind blowing at 2 MPH (4 KM/H) from the north-northwest and humidity at 64%, the heat index is 104°F (40°C). Today’s forecast calls for – yep, you guessed it – thunderstorms to pass through the area. The high will be 95°F (35°C). Tonight, we can expect scattered rain showers and a low of 76°F (24°C).
Today I learned – via Blu-ray.com – that Paramount Home Media Distribution will release on September 6 all six of the original Star Trek films (1979-1991) in 4K UHD, either as individual releases or in bundles such as Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture 6-Movie Collection, which is a scaled-up version of the Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture 4-Movie Collection from last year. It’s now available for pre-order online on Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and other retailers, with Amazon offering it for $125.99.
I’ve been watching how studios handle their franchises and their reissues on new media for a while, and it was apparent to me – and a lot of other fans – that last year’s Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture 4-Movie Collection box set was a “let’s test the waters and see how this set sells” project on the part of Paramount. The folks who run the Blu-ray division know that quite a few people are not buying physical media and are switching to streaming services such as Paramount+, citing the convenience of watching stuff on computers, smartphones (ugh), and on their “smart” Internet-connected TVs. They also say that not buying discs allows them to declutter and not have so much “stuff” on their shelves.
The film industry is, by its nature and practice, highly conservative and profit-driven. This makes studios such as Paramount – a division of Paramount Global, formerly known as ViacomCBS Inc. – risk-adverse. I imagine that before Paramount Home Media Distribution got the green light to release the sextet of feature films with the cast from the original Star Trek television series on 4K UHD, the “suits” probably had a pow-wow in a conference room at One Astor Plaza in Manhattan that must have gone something like this:
Paramount Home Media Distribution: So, okay, we’re thinking about releasing all six of The Original Series movies on 4K UHD and a reissue of the hi-def Blu-rays in a box set within the next year.
Paramount Exec: Will this set include the 2001 Director’s Cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture?
Paramount Home Media Distribution: David C. Fein, Mike Matessino, and Daren R. Dochterman are working on a 4K remaster of that one, but it won’t be ready till early 2022.
Paramount+ Exec: Yeah, and we got dibs on that!
Paramount Exec: But it will be out on physical media, right?
Paramount Accountant: I’m kinda “meh” about that. Blu-ray sales are dropping, and we don’t have a lot of replicating plants for disc-based home media in North America. On the one hand, yeah, there are die-hard physical media fans out there that will have our heads on a pike if we go “streaming only,” but more folks seem to love streaming because they don’t need discs or players.
Paramount Home Media Distribution: While I don’t dispute those points, I must point out that discs still have better audio and video quality because they don’t suffer from the compromises of compression and bandwidth limitations inherent in streaming.
Paramount+ Exec: Mere details….
Paramount Exec: All right. This is what we’re going to do. We’ll go ahead with the remastering of the first six movies – the Blu-rays we issued with them in 2009 didn’t go over well because of shitty transfers –
Paramount Home Media Distribution: Hey, my team wasn’t involved in that!
Paramount Exec: (holds up one hand, palm up) Whoa, whoa, Larry. Don’t get your shorts in a wad there. I know your team came in back in 2014 to fix the screwup with the Kelvin Timeline Star Trek Blu-rays. Anyway, as I was saying, the 2009 Blu-rays aren’t fan favorites, so let’s redo those with a better transfer and include those with the 4K discs.
Paramount Accountant: But that’ll cost more money to do! What if we can’t sell enough sets? Then we’ll lose our investment in the remastering and replication processes.
Paramount Exec: Look, I’ve got a great idea. Let’s remaster all six movies, including the Director’s Cut of Star Trek I –
Paramount Home Media Distribution: Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Paramount Exec: Whatever. Anyway, let’s remaster them, and to see how much support we get from fans –
Paramount Accountant: You mean, how many box sets we can get them to buy.
Paramount Exec: Yeah, that. Anyway, since six-movie sets aren’t exactly cheap, let’s see how a box set with the first four films –
Paramount+ Exec: Except the Director’s Cut! We got first crack at that!
Paramount Exec: (exasperated) Duly noted and logged. Anyway, if the set with the first four movies sells well, we’ll get the suck….I mean, fans to double-dip next year and buy an even more expensive six-movie set. We’ll sweeten the pot with the Director’s Cut edits of Star Trek I and VI, of course, but we’ll wring more money out of a 6-movies, three-cuts set.
Paramount Accountant: (rubbing hands with glee) Great! I like that! Now, let’s break for lunch. Sardi’s, anyone?
So, yep. Paramount Global is finally going to give Blu-ray collectors several options to add more discs to our collections. Not only is Paramount Home Media Distribution offering the Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture 6-Movie Collection, but each film is going to be available in individual 2-disc sets. Moreover, fans of Star Trek I, er, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, also have the cash-grabby option of buying a pricey one-movie, three-cuts version of that movie in a box set called The Complete Adventure.
If Paramount had released all six of The Original Series movies in 2021 for Star Trek’s 55th anniversary, I might have plunked down the $99.00 it is asking for The Complete Adventure set. It would still be a bit of a cash-grab, but not as painful as having to get the two missing films that were not included in the 2021 set and The Complete Adventure set just to get the Director’s Cut of the first movie.
Anyway, I balked at getting the pricey The Complete Edition set with just the first Star Trek film and pre-ordered the Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture 6-Movie Collection set.
Now, here’s hoping that this order doesn’t suffer the same fate that its precursor did last year and arrives on time, rather than three weeks later.