On July 22nd, ‘Star Trek Beyond’, the highly anticipated third movie in the rebooted ‘Star Trek’ film franchise will be released in theaters. While not quite the box office juggernaut of a ‘Star Wars’. the past two films have predominantly been very well received, and have gone on to make decent profits at the box office. The opening weekend projections are in the $48-60 million range, which even though it would be lower than the prior two films, could very possibly be offset by stronger performances in foreign markets.
There are a couple of other factors which have generated additional buzz for this movie, and which may increase more interest in it. The first of which was the very untimely recent death in a freak accident of Anton Yelchin, the 27 year old actor who played ‘Chekov’ in all three films. As this will be one of his final on-screen performances it could very well encourage more moviegoers to see this movie.
The other more controversial factor is the decision to make Hikaru Sulu gay by including a scene in the movie which makes this explicitly clear. Reaction to this has been extremely mixed with even the openly gay George Takei being strongly opposed to this decision due to the creator of Star Trek making it clear to him that the character was heterosexual. He stated succinctly “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene Roddenberry’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
Conversely, Simon Pegg, the co-writer of the movie, and actor who portrays ‘Scotty’, wrote a fully fleshed out article on this issue on his official website which came across as quite hostile to anyone who disagrees with this creative decision. “I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humour are an inspiration,” he wrote. “However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.”
This issue has generated a fair amount of free marketing for the film, and certainly could help it drum up more interest. There is a wide degree of disagreement about whether or not this action qualifies as pandering by forcefully altering a character’s intended sexuality even over the objection of the actor who first played the role; but as the saying goes, any press is good press.
Looking ahead, the relative success of the new film franchise may have also sparked the decision to launch a new ‘Star Trek’ series which is slated to premiere next January. This marks the first time that a new television series will be in production since ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ was prematurely cancelled in 2005 after four seasons. It is clear that a new era for Trekkers has arrived. There will be issues of disagreement whether it comes to the direction of the films or the new series which we still have very little information on, but ‘Star Trek’ has always been one of the preeminent franchises in causing people to think, examine the world, and innovate for the future. We can only hope that many will want to use this as inspiration to see how far “beyond” humanity can go in every facet.
Ajay Bruno is a conservative political consultant, writer, internet talk radio host, and activist. He has worked on campaigns on all levels, including serving as New Hampshire State Director for the Michele Bachmann Presidential campaign. Additionally, he has appeared on NBC, FNC, CNN and C-Span in addition to a variety of publications. Steadfast in his resolve, Bruno is dedicated to standing up for Judeo-Christian values to build a better tomorrow. When not plotting world domination, his hobbies include learning about history, hiking, a variety of sports, and seeking new adventures and challenges!