STAR TREK 4: THE VOYAGE HOME
Release Date: November 26, 1986
Screenplay By Steve Meerson & Peter Krikes and Harve Bennett & Nicholas Meyer
Story By Leonard Nimoy & Harve Bennett
Music By Leonard Rosenman
Executive Producer Ralph Winter
Produced By Harve Bennett
Directed By Leonard Nimoy
Domestic Gross (US): $110 Million.
Leonard Nimoy: "(Bennett and I) were asked by the studio to come up with a story, and our very first conversation was about doing time travel, which we both agreed was a good idea. We also felt that we should lighten up. The picture should be fun in comparison to the previous three. The first movie had no comedy at all. That was intentional. It was intended to be a serious study of a problem. The second film had a little. The third film had a little, but there we were dealing with a lot of serious drama."
Leonard Nimoy: "Someone had been constantly dying in the films, and this time I said, 'Nobody's going to die. I don't want anybody hitting anybody. I don't want anybody shooting anybody or any of that stuff.' . . . I insisted that there be no bad guy. We had done two pictures in a row with black-hat heavies, and I didn't want a bad guy anywhere. Circumstances would be the problem. Lack of awareness, lack of concern. Ignorance would be the problem, not a person."
Leonard Nimoy: "We knew we wanted them to come home and face trial for all that had happened in Star Trek III, rules being broken, the Enterprise destroyed and all that. It would have been out of character for them not to at least try to come home and deal with their obligations. So we figured we would start them on their way home in this Klingon Bird of Prey. Does something go wrong? Do they find themselves going through a time travel accidentally, or was it intentional? For a number of reasons, we chose that it would be intentional. If they're coming back to the 20th century, what are they coming back for? Is it something they need, something they want? That led us to the idea that there's a problem in the 23rd century, which can only be solved by something that's now gone, extinct."
Leonard Nimoy: "It's a . . . lot more interesting and challenging, cinematically, to come back to the 20th century to pick up a pair of whales than it is to pick up a plant or an insect."
Comedian Eddie Murphy, a Star Trek fan, expressed interest to Paramount about playing a major role in Star Trek IV. Harve Bennett: "Eddie has a certain amount of clout and he said that he hadn't decided whether he wanted to do it or not and so much of the development of the story was with the very distinct possibility that Eddie Murphy was in it."
Word of Murphy's possible involvement in the film was leaked to the fans, who were led to believe the outcome would be similar to Richard Pryor's appearance in Superman III, sparking yet another letter-writing campaign. Harve Bennett: "The Star Trek fans, who are our greatest asset, are also gigantic pains-in-the-ass. They know I love them and they know I can say that. They do have a propriety interest and to some extent they do pay for it. The fans found out about this and they got the word out."
Steve Meerson and Peter Krikes were commissioned to write the screenplay for Star Trek IV, and told to keep Eddie Murphy in mind for a character. Meerson: "Eddie Murphy was going to play a college professor who taught English, but a professor who we probably all had in the '60's or '70's who's a little bit wacky and believes in extraterrestrials."
Peter Krikes: "He would play whale songs, and it was the whale songs he played in the classroom that the ship locked on to."
Peter Krikes: "When (the crew) first appeared in the 20th century, they were in a fog, and as they lowered, the monitors picked up all of this cheering and applause. As they come out of the fog, they find themselves over a Super Bowl game and everyone thinks it's a halftime show. Then they cloak and disappear."
Steve Meerson: "That's how we introduced the Eddie Murphy character, because he's at the Super Bowl and he's the only one who believes he just saw what he saw."
Steve Meerson: "It was the boy who cried wolf. No one would ever believe him so he took it upon himself to follow the crew. And in one scene, he lifted a phaser from Kirk, took it back to a newswoman and said, 'See? They really do exist.' And she says, 'What's this?' and casts the gun aside, accidentally activating it. The phaser lands on the floor and her cat jumps off the couch. We follow (the journalist) to her bedroom and she goes to sleep. The cat keeps phasing things out of the apartment by hitting the phaser, and when she wakes up, she sees that all the furniture is gone."
Steve Meerson: "I think (the Star Trek cast) became terrified that Eddie would blow them off the screen. They also got a lot of negative mail from the fans."
Harve Bennett: "The studio started getting very anxious for a very good reason. Here, you have a franchise called Star Trek and it performs in a certain wonderful way. Here, you have a franchise called Eddie Murphy and it performs in an even bigger way. Why not take them together and form one franchise? Bad economics because you are probably diminishing by compositing."
Leonard Nimoy: "Eddie's character was to have a hunch that we were really spacemen, and he'd chase us all around during the story, trying to get evidence to prove himself right. Frankly, the character didn't work very well; he simply played the same note over and over. We finally decided it wasn't good for him or us, so Eddie moved on to other projects."
Eddie Murphy: "I'm a Trekkie. I've always loved Star Trek and have wanted to do one of the films. I wanted to be in Star Trek and that's where they got the idea of coming back in time to Earth in 1987. The script was developed, but we eventually dropped the idea. Golden Child came along and I decided to do that film instead, because I thought it would be better for my career. In retrospect, I might have been better off doing Star Trek IV."
Harve Bennett: "We went through every writer we could think of. We finally found Steve Meerson and Peter Krikes, whose work was highly regarded. Nothing came of it. Some of that, in fairness to them, was because we had saddled them with what appeared to be a male character that we thought was going to be Eddie Murphy at one time." Nicholas Meyer and Harve Bennett wrote the final screenplay, but when Meerson and Krikes received no credit they took the matter to arbitration with the Writer's Guild. They eventually won the arbitration and received a credit in the film.
Steve Meerson: "Every beat of the film's first, second, and third acts is exactly the same as our script. The only thing that changed slightly was that our Eddie Murphy character and the marine biologist were combined."
Peter Krikes: "There was a scene where the Eddie Murphy character was trying to convince the Catherine Hicks (who played Dr. Gillian Taylor in the final film) character that aliens do exist on Earth. In the first draft, Hicks was a newswoman and there was a marine biologist as well. Gillian Taylor was ultimately a marriage of about three characters."
Peter Krikes: "If you look at our script and the movie you saw, basically everything is still there, like Eddie Murphy going to meet the aliens in the park to bring them gifts and he runs into the invisible ship, which is what Catherine Hicks did when she ran into the park to find Kirk."
Harve Bennett: "Frankly, there are two scenes in the picture that they wrote that stayed pretty much the same. One of them is outstanding, which is the hospital scene that had minor modifications by Nick Meyer and me. They had also laid down the outline for the Plexiglas factory scene. But essentially, we didn't have a script we felt good about or even submittable to the studio."
Harve Bennett: "Now we're getting down to where we've got a movie to make and a whole new script to write. That's when we were fortunate enough to find that Nicholas Meyer (the director and unaccredited writer of Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan) was available."
Nicholas Meyer: "I got involved in number four because they had another script they were not happy with. Dawn Steel, who (was) the head of Paramount and has been a friend of mine for many years, called me and said, 'Would you do us an enormous favor?' And I said, 'For Harve and Leonard? Yeah, absolutely.' They had a script written. The script, I guess, was for Eddie Murphy as a guest star. I never read it, so I don't know. . . .I didn't read the (Meerson/Krikes) script because I just thought it would confuse me and since (Bennett and Nimoy) didn't like it, why bother?"
Nicholas Meyer: "They said, 'We're a little bit under the gun now because our production date is closing in. Is that a problem for you?' And I said, 'Hey, c'mon, "Under the Gun" is my middle name! Remember me? I'm the twelve day wonder! I'm in!'"
Nicholas Meyer: "Harve said, 'Great, here's what will happen. I'll write the bookends, I'll write Act One and Act Four, which is the stuff in space, and you write Act Two and Act Three, that's the stuff on Earth.'"
Harve Bennett: "If you think about that in structural terms, I got us into the dilemma and into time travel, he carried us through San Francisco, and I got us back. That was like breathing for me because it's pure Star Trek and it was like breathing for him because his irreverence is what really makes the film fun. Then we swapped pages and I rewrote him a little bit and he rewrote me a little bit and we put it all together and had a script."
Nicholas Meyer: "I can even tell you exactly where I start and where I stop. First line of mine in the movie is, 'Judging by the pollution content of the atmosphere, we've reached the late twentieth century," and I go out right before the line about D.H. Lawrence and the whales. That was Harve's."
Nicholas Meyer's first movie, before directing Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan in 1982, was Time After Time, starring Malcolm McDowell. William Shatner: "Time After Time is a terrific film that Nick directed in 1979. A romantic adventure-fantasy, the film mixes and matches elements of The Time Machine and Jack the Ripper. Basically, Jack the Ripper successfully uses H.G. Wells's time-travelling device to escape Scotland Yard's best. Wells chases after the legendary bad guy, ending up in San Francisco of the late seventies."
Nicholas Meyer: "When I heard the story (for Star Trek IV), I had to say, 'Wait a minute. Wait, there is one problem here. This is just like Time After Time. I already did this. Can't they go to another city? Do they have to go to San Francisco, because that really is Time After Time. Can't we go to Paris? I've always wanted to go to Paris.' They said, 'Nope, sorry, we can't go to Paris because Starfleet is located in San Francisco and Paramount is located here in L.A.' So I just said, 'Well, okay. Maybe it's not such a big deal.'" Meyer's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country would later establish Paris as the location of the Federation President's office.
Nicholas Meyer: "I stayed away from III because I didn't want to resurrect Spock, which somehow in my mind attacked the integrity and authenticity of the feelings provoked by his death. However, by the time we got to IV, Spock was alive, it was a de facto thing, and on top of that, my friends were in trouble. Dawn was my friend, Leonard's my friend, Harve is my friend, (William Shatner is) my friend, so I thought, '&ldots;Be useful. These people were awfully good to you, awful good. You be good back.' So, I was quite happy playing the waiter. The most fun thing for me was getting to recycle moments that I'd cut out of Time After Time."
Harve Bennett: "Nick always said, 'You know the problem with this script is you've got five endings.' And he was right, we did have five endings. He said, 'Why don't you have the whales save the Earth? That's the end of the picture!" No, I said, that's the end of the picture for the hoped for extended audience who's never seen Star Trek before. But for people who have seen Star Trek before, we have a trilogy to complete. So we've gotta get them back, get them off the hook and give them the Enterprise back. . . .So that's what we did. We kept every ending."
Nicholas Meyer was also against Catherine Hicks' character of Dr. Gillian Taylor traveling to the 23rd century at the end of the film. Meyer: "In my version of the script, originally, when they all leave to go back, she didn't leave. She said if anyone's going to make sure this kind of disaster doesn't happen, somebody's going to have to stay behind, which I still think is the 'righter' ending. The end in the movie detracts from the importance of people in the present taking responsibility for the ecology and preventing problems of the future by doing something about them today, rather than catering to the fantasy desires of being able to be transported ahead in time to the near-utopian future society of the Star Trek era."
Leonard Nimoy: "Harve and Nick turned in a fantastic script. In fact, Ned Tanen, who was the studio executive in charge of Star Trek IV's production, told us after reading it, 'I'd make this picture even if it wasn't Star Trek.'"
Leonard Nimoy: "We were off the soundstages for the first time. The first three pictures were almost exclusively on the soundstages. . . .To get off the soundstages on this one was very invigorating. It gave a lot more energy to me and the cast of the picture."
William Shatner: "Look closely at the scenes in which Chekov grills random passers-by as to how he might find the nearest 'nuclear wessels,' and you'll notice that he's most often soliciting that advice from real-life, unrehearsed, slightly shocked pedestrians. Their resultant looks of incredulity are quote genuine, as most of them just assumed that Walter was simply out of his mind."
Leonard Nimoy: "Up walked this woman with long, dark hair, whom none of us had ever seen before. She paused to listen to Walter, then said helpfully, 'I think they're across the Bay, in Alameda.' Her reaction was so ingenuous and perfect that we included her in the shot, and wound up negotiating a contract with her, so that we could pay her for talking. It was a wonderful accident, from our perspective as well as hers."
George Takei: "When I got my script for IV, I read it and was disappointed by the fact that Sulu was basically just being used as an animated prop again, but instead of just complaining about that, I came up with a plan." Takei and Bennett created a scene in which Sulu meets his great-grandfather, a little boy, in 20th century San Francisco.
George Takei: "As it was written, McCoy and Scotty and I were walking down a busy city street in front of an old apartment building when this little lost Asian boy comes running up to us, and he hugs Sulu and smiles because he thinks I'm his uncle. Turns out I look just like the guy. And when the kid finally realizes I'm not his uncle, we get into a conversation. I ask him his name and address, and that's how I come to the realization that he's my great-grandfather."
The young child who would have portrayed Sulu's great-grandfather was unable to properly perform the scene, and due to the setting sun on the location shoot, production was wrapped for the day. Takei: "When I got to the set the next day, I found out the scene had been cancelled. I was devastated, absolutely devastated. Immediately, I went to Leonard and he said, 'I'm sorry, George, we just don't have the time to go back and shoot the scene. We're going to have to move on.' I said, 'But Leonard, it's such a charming, delightful and heartwarming scene. We need this in the movie.' And Leonard said, 'Yes, I know, I agree, but we're only here at this location for a very limited time, and we've just got to move on. Sorry, George.' I could have cried, but I didn't because you know, it's happened to me so often."
George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic once again produced the special effects for this film, the third Star Trek movie in a row in which their services were used. The Klingon Bird of Prey, now christened the Bounty by Dr. McCoy, was featured heavily in Star Trek IV. Several Starfleet vessels were also shown, and many of them, such as Excelsior and the new Enterprise-A, were in Earth's spacedock, first seen in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. ILM's Jeff Man: "We . . . ended up putting the space dock back together, which was a major undertaking. It's huge! It's 20 feet in diameter, and it has thousands of feet of fiber optics in it. We had wanted to use stock footage of the interior of the space dock from Star Trek III. We hoped that we could take some of the old effects elements from that scene and composite them with some new movement, but nothing worked quite right, so we had to refurbish and rebuild it. It was an expensive undertaking."
Several models of the probe were created, in various scales. Jeff Mann: "Then we built a large section of the (probe), just a third of a side of it, and it was tapered for a shot where the (probe) is heading towards the camera and then flies overhead. Like a takeoff on that first shot in Star Wars."
Jeff Mann: "ILM handled the second unit whale sequence so we had the task of finding a whaling ship. The one we found was named the Golden Gate, and it was a 140-foot mine-sweeper from World War II, and I had to put it together to make it look like the real thing. It had a lot of rigging on it, it was the right size, so all we had to do was build a flying bridge and some props on it. We built a big harpoon deck, and then the model stage pyro guys built a big harpoon cannon and some harpoons and gear."
Leonard Nimoy: "There was only two shots of a live whale in the film - one of a humpback breaching the ocean's surface . . . and one of a humpback briefly surfacing during the hunting sequence, when the Russian ship is in pursuit of the whales. Every other shot of a whale was accomplished using either a mechanical miniature or a life-size reproduction of part of the whale's anatomy, such as the tail."
Leonard Nimoy: "Right as work was beginning on designing the whale's special effects, Humphrey the humpback whale swam into San Francisco Bay. The joke around the set was that he'd come to audition for us! Unfortunately, we failed to get anything on film that could be used in the movie."
ILM's Walt Conti: "In some ways, doing something like this, trying to replicate a real mammal, is actually tougher than trying to do a fictitious creature because the audience already has a preconceived idea of how it should look." The whale models were so perfect that they could actually swim using only their flippers and tails.
ILM's Ken Ralston: "I hope I have lent a certain boldness to the shots, but a lot of times the Trek approach goes against what I might actually want to do. There's a certain world that the Trek films encompass, and a certain reality that we have to follow, because it's amazing how picky the fans are, how we are scrutinized by them. I don't think Leonard Nimoy or Bill Shatner know as much as some of the fans do about Trek, and if I do something that doesn't go quite right with what's come before, I always hear about it."
Harve Bennett: "I (was) emotionally beat up by Leonard Nimoy. I respect him for what he has done, but in the transition between III and IV, Leonard had come to regard me as in his way, with regards to the auteurship of the film. I was not only the man who said 'No,' but the man who was conspiring to . . . you know. So that on one occasion, it got really mean on the stage - mean from him to me. I was smarting. 'Who needs this sh-t?' was foremost on my mind."
Leonard Nimoy: "In all fairness to Harve, I think we came into Star Trek IV having been given different signals. The signal I got was, 'This is your picture. Do you want Harve Bennett to return?' At the same time, I think the signal he got was, 'You're our guy. You're our guy.' I think he may have been set up, put into a position wherein I wasn't going to be reporting to him."
A memorial to the seven astronauts killed in the space shuttle Challenger tragedy on January 28, 1986 was placed at the opening of the film. It reads: "The cast and crew of Star Trek wish to dedicate this film to the men and women of the spaceship Challenger whose courageous spirit shall live to the 23rd century and beyond . . . ."
The closing credits of Star Trek IV featured still shots and highlight scenes from the movie. A number of outtake scenes were also presented during the closing credits. In one of the outtakes, actor James Doohan can be seen emerging from the top of the Bird of Prey, losing his balance, and slipping into the water below.
Nichelle Nichols: "The first film was good science fiction if you don't think of it as being Star Trek. Unfortunately, that's what everyone thought they were getting, which is why it seems to be people's least favorite film. The second film was centered around Spock dying, and the third around bringing Spock back to life, so there wasn't enough time to introduce the things that made Star Trek on TV so great. Those elements finally came together with Star Trek IV. The humor and action were there. . . .It was definitely a step in the direction of what the old series was all about."
Walter Koenig: "The biggest surprise was seeing Leonard's performance (in Star Trek IV), because I'd never seen him work in (this) picture, except for the scenes in which he was behind us on the bridge (so) those scenes with Bill, I'd never actually seen....I'm very pleased for him, for his success, for the picture's success, and I'm very pleased to have been part of that."
James Doohan: "Star Trek IV was absolutely delightful. It was a delight to do, and a delight to watch. Our best, dramatically speaking, mostly on account of Ricardo Montalban, was Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, but Star Trek IV was cute and funny, and everybody loved it just for that."
William Shatner: "It may very well have represented the finest portrayal of our crewmen ever penned."
Harve Bennett: "In moving through the trilogy (of Star Trek II, III, and IV), I confess that every one of the major tricks I learned in television, I used. I'm out of tricks now. I've gotta find another one because we have now completed a trilogy and we have to go where no man has gone before. When you go where no man has gone before, you have to build things and then it starts getting expensive."
Earning 110 million dollars in domestic release, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home remains the highest grossing Star Trek film.
McCoy: "I just wish we could cloak the stench."
Spock: "I must apologize for my attire. I seem to have misplaced my uniform."
McCoy: "You mean I have to die to discuss your insights on death?"
Kirk: "May fortune favor the foolish."
Kirk: "Everybody remember where we parked."
Kirk: "That's simply the way they talk here. Nobody pays any attention to you unless you swear every other word."
Spock: "They like you very much, but they are not the hell your whales."
Kirk: "If we play our cards right, we may be able to find out when those whales are leaving." Spock: "How will playing cards help?"
Kirk: "Him? He's harmless. Back in the '60's he was part of the free speech movement at Berkley. I think he did a little too much LDS."
Spock: "Are you sure it isn't time for a colorful metaphor?"
Kirk: "You're not exactly catching us at our best." Spock: "That much is certain."
McCoy: "Don't bury yourself in the part."
Gillian: "Sure you won't change your mind?" Spock: "Is there something wrong with the one I have?"
Gillian: "Who are you?" Kirk: "Who do you think I am?" Gillian: "Don't tell me, you're from outer space." Kirk: "No, I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space."
Gillian: "Dont tell me they don't use money in the 23rd century." Kirk: "Well, we don't."
Agent: "Let's take it from the top." Chekov: "The top of what?" Agent: "Name." Chekov: "My name?" Agent: "No, my name!" Chekov: "I do not know your name!" Agent: "You play games with me, mister, and you're through!" Chekov: "I am? May I go now?"
Kirk: "Hello Alice, welcome to Wonderland."
Gillian: "See you around the galaxy."
Kirk: "My friends, we've come home."
Kirk: "Let's see what she's got."