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November 21, 2008

A peek under the 'Star Trek' hood


The scene was a packed showing of "Quantum of Solace" at the AMC 16 in Burbank, one of the heaviest trafficked venues in the nationwide multiplex chain. Pre-show ads and promos -- a bunch. Trailers -- quite a few, including "Gran Torino," "Seven Pounds," "Valkyrie," and the next "Fast and the Furious," featuring the reunion of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Car stunts! Eye candy! What's not to love?

But the only preview to get a noticeable rise out of the assembled action fans this past Sunday? J.J. Abrams' version of "Stark Trek." Amid hoots and hollers, the crowd met the young Enterprise crew -- Spock (Zachary Quinto from "Heroes"), Scotty, Kirk and the rest -- in the first widely-seen footage of the summer opener.

That reaction probably bodes well for the Paramount tentpole.

And today, THR details the studio's efforts to whip up and sustain that kind of enthusiasm for the flick, even though it's still six months from launch.


That has involved a roadshow to cities like Rome, Madrid, Paris, London and New York with the Emmy-winning filmmaker and key cast members showing a handful of scenes. Yesterday's L.A. presentation is described in detail here (minor spoilers included).

While it might be mostly an international play -- the "Trek" movies historically have underperformed outside the U.S. -- it's also a sharp business move to reintroduce the franchise to the media and the faithful and to spur some Interwebs chatter to try to snag the newbies.

THR's Borys Kit called the footage "emotional, thrilling, funny, visceral," though he saw the comedy as a little goofball. Might not matter when it's sandwiched between a lot of action.

Paramount bumped the action fantasy from this holiday to May and, as a result, have the luxury of a finished product. Hawking it this early, especially with hand-picked crowd-pleasing scenes, could be a smart decision. (The first TV ads ran this week, but there's no way the studio could keep up steady ad buying from now until May. Look for event-style marketing during marquee TV events.)

For us, we'll take most any chance to see Simon Pegg on the big screen (we were one of about 10 people who actually paid to see "Run, Fatboy, Run." Conclusion: Meh).

Hopes are much higher for "Star Trek."



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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

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  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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