The relationship between Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and Paramount Pictures, the franchise's production company, was far from made in heaven…or even in a massive energy cloud ruthlessly moving toward space.
First: some context. The original Star Trek series was actually a flop when it first aired in 1966, bombing in the ratings and lasting a mere three seasons. We know; how is it possible that the show that became so popular it birthed a hand signal, a language, and the concept of mind-melding started off with a "pfft" and not a bang?
By 1975, however, the show had become a cult hit all over the world. And you know what that means, folks: time to cash in with a movie.
Because Paramount Television produced the TV series, it only made sense that Paramount Pictures took over duties for the film. Founded in 1912, Paramount Picture is (and was) one of the biggest production studios ever, but they didn't have much experience with science fiction at the time.
Still, with the success of films like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind during Star Trek's production process, the studio became excited about the potentially interstellar success of their own sci-fi franchise.
They were less enthused about working one-on-one with Roddenberry, however. There were numerous clashes between the sci-fi savant and studio executives over the direction of the film from moment one, finally culminating in 1977 when production was halted.
At that time, Paramount decided to pivot and work on a new Star Trek television series instead. This show was mere days from production before it too was cancelled—this time because Paramount wanted to adapt its pilot script "In Thy Image" into a full-length film. Indecisive much?
As you can tell, this wasn't the smoothest filmmaking process in the world. Trouble continued well into shooting, with the script changing up until the moment it was shot and production being delayed numerous times. Despite this, the film was a solid success at the box office, making about $11 million on its opening weekend and leaving Paramount Pictures open to more entries in the franchise.
In other words, the future of Star Trek movies was set to live long and prosper.