Study Guide

Star Trek: The Motion Picture Screenwriter

Screenwriter

Harold Livingston, Alan Dean Foster, Gene Roddenberry

Star Trek's path from pen to page to screen is more confusing than all of the time paradoxes in J.J. Abrams' reboot. (And don't even get us started on that.)

Our story begins in 1975 when Paramount Pictures officially commissioned the film's script from Gene Roddenberry, creator of the franchise. This first draft, known as The God Thing, follows Enterprise as it battles an alien entity that calls itself "God" and takes the form of Earth's most famous deities. This script was roundly rejected by execs, possibly for religious reasons, and they went back to the drawing board.

Next up came some of the most famous sci-fi novelists of all time: Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, and Harlan Ellison. All three struck out.

The next full script was written by two British screenwriters named Chris Bryant and Allan Scott. This one was called Planet of the Titans and involved giant aliens, time travel, and slightly mystical implications. And guess what—it was approved. Unfortunately, the second draft was rejected by executives in 1977, shuttering production for some time.

In 1978, production would restart. Paramount had been planning to create a new Star Trek television series, but after reading the script for the pilot episode "In Thy Image," they canceled the project in favor of a feature film. The idea for "In Thy Image" came from Roddenberry; the treatment was written by Alan Dean Foster; and both scripts would be written by Harold Livingston.

The original teleplay for "In Thy Image" is fairly similar to film, with the big Voyager VI twist already in place, but several aspects of Roddenberry's The God Thing popped back up—most notably Spock's character arc.

Ugh. Our brains are hurting so much it's like we just played 3D Chess with a Vulcan.