True facts: Star Trek: The Motion Picture would have never existed without fan support.
After all, the original series was an absolute flop, bombing in the ratings and getting the axe after a paltry three seasons. In the years that followed, however, the show exploded in popularity. The first Star Trek-specific convention was held in 1972 (three years after the show's cancellation) and these die-hard fans—now known as "Trekkies"—realized that they were a force to be reckoned with.
And these guys pretty much single-handedly were behind the fact that Star Trek went on to, well, live long and prosper.
The passion of these fans was directly responsible for Paramount's decision to greenlight Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Well before Community fans were shouting for "six seasons and a movie," Trekkies were mounting letter writing campaigns to show Paramount their support for the franchise.
Given that this is the same fan base that regularly invests beaucoup bucks into making high-production-quality tribute films, we're not too surprised.
That being said, Star Trek: The Motion Picture isn't exactly a Trekkie favorite. It's not reviled or anything like that, but it simply doesn't stack up in fan's minds to other films like The Wrath of Khan and First Contact. There's actually a famous rule for Star Trek movies: every odd-numbered movie is bad, while every even-numbered one is good.
We're not sure if we agree (we've seen Nemesis) but we're not going to argue with a gang of Trekkies about that. When it comes to their favorite franchise, these folks do not set their phasers to stun.