It's illogical to feel this old, but the Leonard Nimoy-directed Star Trek III: The Search for Spock opened in theaters on June 1, 1984... or 33 years ago today. To celebrate the occasion, StarTrek.com shares 12 Things You Should Know About Star Trek III.
Return to Genesis
Just a few days -- or even a day, depending on the source -- after Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan opened in theaters, writer-producer Harve Bennett started tapping out what would become The Search for Spock. The title of his initial 20-page treatment/outline was Return to Genesis.
Favorite Line #1
"And Enterprise feels like a house with all the children gone. No, more empty even than that. The death of Spock is like an open wound."
The Beginning and the End
Star Trek III commenced production on August 15, 1983. According to Memory Alpha, "the opening scene on the Enterprise bridge was the first to be filmed." The shoot concluded on October 20, 1983 after wrapping a scene on the Excelsior bridge.
New and Old
Nimoy cast an array of veteran actors and newcomers in key ST III roles. On the veteran spectrum, Mark Lenard returned to reprise his TOS role as Spock's father, Sarek, and Nimoy convinced the revered, Oscar-nominated Dame Judith Anderson to play the pivotal role of the Vulcan High Priestess T'Lar. Meanwhile, Robin Curtis was just in her mid-20s and relative rookie when she took over the role of Saavik from Kirstie Alley, and Merritt Butrick was a year or two younger than Curtis -- and best known for the short-lived, but cult-favorite series Square Pegs -- when he reprised the role of Kirk's doomed son, David.
Favorite Line #2
"To absent friends..."
Taxi to the Stars
Christopher Lloyd had serious dramatic chops, as anyone who'd seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or The Lady in Red knew well, but when tapped to play the Kruge, the Klingon commander, he was in the midst of generating laughs as Rev. Jim on the comedy series Taxi. According to Memory Alpha, Nimoy's first choice to play Kruge was actually Edward James Olmos, who later went on to star in Battlestar Galactica, but Paramount said no. On a side note, Lloyd and William Shatner just reunited to shoot an upcoming film comedy, Senior Moment, in which they portray best friends.
Nimoy, The Director
Star Trek III, of course, represented Leonard Nimoy's first stint as a feature film director. Back in a 2011 interview, StarTrek.com asked Nimoy the following: How at home were you behind the camera? Did you feel like you had training wheels on? And how satisfied were you with the finished film? He replied, "I was very comfortable shooting the movie. I did feel that I was being quite controlled, I guess is the word. I was made to justify everything that I did and explain everything that I was doing, which took a lot of energy. And I resented it. It bothered me that I was being so carefully monitored because I really felt that I knew what I was doing. I thought the script was workable and did what it had to do, which was to find Spock and get him back on his feet. I thought it was an interesting idea, the whole idea of the Genesis planet evolving and Spock’s remains evolving with the planet. It may not have been as much fun a film as some would like, but I thought it did the job. It did it what it set out to do. Maybe, in retrospect, we might have found a better story or construct, to get that job done. But we got the job done and the film was OK. At the box office, it did what was becoming the pattern for Star Trek films. It did about the same as was expected, so it was OK. It was not a gigantic runaway hit, but it was not considered a failure. And it was strong enough that they decided to go ahead and make another one after that."
Favorite Line #3 -- A Tie
"This isn't reality. This is fantasy! You wanted adventure, how's this? The old adrenaline going, huh? Good boy. Now get in the closet!" And then there's "Don't call me Tiny!"
There Be Tribbles
What's that we see in the bar scene in Star Trek III? Are those... Tribbles? They are indeed, making their first live-action appearance since TOS.
Favorite Line #4
You Klingon bastard! You've killed my son!"
The Bottom Line
Star Trek III cost $16 million to make. It grossed $76.5 million at the North American box office. That figure was just below the North American gross of Star Trek II, which beamed up $78.9 million on a budget of $11.2 million.
Favorite Line #5
"Jim. Your name is Jim."