The release of the upcoming Star Trek Beyond happens to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the franchise. To celebrate the new film and the franchise’s history, Paramount Pictures held a special Star Trek fan event Friday night on the same stage at the Hollywood studio where much of the original series was filmed.
In addition the unveiling of a new trailer and scenes from the film, director Justin Lin, producer J.J. Abrams, and stars Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, and Karl Urban were all in attendance to discuss Beyond and the history of the franchise.
Here are some of the highlights from the evening:
Rihanna is apparently a Trekkie
The event kicked off with a video featuring celebrity fans including Beyond actors Idris Elba and Zoe Saldana, as well as musicians Pete Wentz and Rihanna talking about their love of the franchise. Saldana recalled that her first Star Trek experience happened to be in a different language as she overheard the show’s music and found her mother and grandmother watching it in Spanish.
There was more personal nostalgia behind the camera this go-around
Beyond sees Justin Lin taking over the director’s chair from J.J. Abrams, who, after helming the last two films, has stayed on as a producer. Abrams admitted that he wasn’t a fan of Star Trek until he actually took the job on the first film and developed a love from there after going back and watching the original series.
That wasn’t the case for Lin, who has been a fan from a very young age, making his work on the franchise surreal. “There’s always that lag of three seconds of me bouncing back to my living room as a 10-year-old and back to on set,” he said.
His affection for the series played a significant role in his decision to make this film his follow-up to his highly successful run on the Fast and Furious franchise. “It’s something that’s a very personal choice,” he said. “I just couldn’t resist hopefully contributing something. It’s been around for 50 years and hopefully we can build something that can continue it for another 50 years.”
Beyond will have more variations of alien creatures than ever before
A special behind-the-scenes look offered a glance at just a few of the creatures the film has in store. In honor of the 50-year anniversary, 50 different unique alien creatures were made for Beyond, one being Idris Elba’s villainous Krall.
The video also included a look at the extreme locations that had to be created to stand in for the various stops the crew will be making on their five-year journey. A spotlight was also put on the development of Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah, who they hope to make an iconic character.
Characters become separated, which will force relationships to evolve
The backbone of the previous two films has been the growing relationship between Spock (Quinto) and Kirk (Pine). Beyond will see the two separated and having to survive without each other. “I think Kirk and Spock rely on each other a lot for guidance through those tough moments, and they don’t necessarily have that in this film,” Quinto explained. “So I think they both arrive at an understanding of who they are as individuals in an interesting way because they’re not together and don’t have each other to rely on.”
That separation means that characters will be paired with crew members they haven’t necessarily been with in the past. As Pine explains, that means a buddy comedy of sorts develops between Kirk and Anton Yelchin’s Pavel Chekov.
Meanwhile Spock and Bones (Urban) find themselves separated from the crew with only each other to rely on. “These are two characters who are historically pretty diametrically opposed, so I think there’s also a lot of humor that comes from that, and like Karl said, a lot of depth,” said Quinto. “And I really do think they finish this film with a deeper appreciation for one another than when they started it.”
Leonard Nimoy’s presence will still be felt
This is the first Star Trek film since the death of Nimoy, the original Spock who also appeared in the last two films. During the fan event a special ceremony was held to honor the late actor as Leonard Nimoy Way was unveiled on the Paramount Lot where the series had been filmed.
Quinto, who has taken on the role of Spock in the franchise and had become very close to Nimoy, shared his thoughts on the continued effect Nimoy still had on the film despite his passing. “In a way I feel like he’s actually more apart of this film then he was of the other two,” Quinto said. “We were all so cognizant of his absence, but I think in the face of that we all held him in our hearts so much more fully… Everybody on this film showed up to work celebrating his life and his indelible contributions to this franchise because honestly I don’t really see how it could have lasted as long as it did without him. You’ll see he’s there. He’s there in a really powerful way.”
Paramount also announced at the event that on July 20 in San Diego at Comic-Con, Star Trek Beyond will be the first-ever open-air IMAX world premiere. The film will then be released in theaters nationwide on July 22. See more from the fan event, below.