If Star Trek is your thing, then San Diego was THE place to be on Wednesday night. Embarcadero Marina Park played host to the world premiere of Star Trek Beyond. And this was no ordinary screening. We're talking IMAX outdoors, on a picture-perfect evening, with the San Diego Symphony performing the score live to screen. We're talking a dazzling pre-screening fireworks and laser display. Conan O'Brien cracked the crowd with a mini-routine and with his introductions of the cast and crew. After the fireworks concluded, he quipped, "Ladies and gentlemen, that was the promotional budget for the film. You won't see another billboard."
Then, one by one the actors, director Justin Lin, and producers J.J. Abrams and Lindsey Weber took the stage and greeted the appreciative audience of several thousand fans. Karl Urban noted that the black Starfleet delta badge he sported was in tribute to Anton Yelchin, who died tragically, and tragically young, last month.
Zachary Quinto paid tribute to his friend and Spock predecessor, Leonard Nimoy, and recounted sharing the spotlight with Nimoy at Comic-Con in 2007.
Abrams shared memories about Yelchin and forcefully said "He should be here tonight," then noted that Yelchin's parents, Irina and Viktor, were in attendance at the screening. Then, at Abrams' request, everyone observed a moment of silence.
Moments later, composer Michael Giacchino discussed his love of Star Trek. He generated huge chuckles when he explained how, on the first day of fifth grade, he wore a Starfleet uniform to school. It was, of course, a red shirt... as illustrated by an old photo that flashed on the screen. And then Lin came out to explain how his parents, after immigrating to the United States, let him watch Star Trek after they closed up their restaurant each night. Years later, receiving a phone call from Abrams to discuss directing Beyond, Lin asked for a day or two to think about it. "It was a call that changed my life," he noted. And, before the lights went dark and the film played, Lin added, "Thanks Mom and Dad for letting me stay up late." And then it was on with the movie.
But, all of the above was only part of the day's festivities. Thousands of fans enjoyed a variety of pre-screening activities, freebies and a suprise appearance by Star Trek's original Uhura, Nichelle Nichols.
On screens adjacent to the main screen, "The Corbomite Maneuver" played to an enthusiastic response, as did Rihanna's "Sledgehammer" video. There was free ice cream, and giveaways of seat cushions and more.
Meanwhile, just outside the enclosed screening area, the stars and filmmakers engaged in pre-screening red carpet festivities, chatting with media from all over the world, including StarTrek.com.
"These nine years have gone by in like the blink of an eye," Quinto told StarTrek.com. "The nine years have been full of adventure and excitement and incredible opportunities with Star Trek and... I almost said beyond. And it's so exciting to be here on the 50th anniversary, at Comic-Con, where it all began for me, and to be outside for this screening, with a live orchestra, and with all my family and friends. It's really exhilarating, and I'm very proud at this moment to be a part of this franchise."
"I watched Star Trek and loved it as a kid. Never in a million years, as that kid, not in my wildest dreams, did I think I'd get to do what I'm doing here today with the franchise," said Star Trek Beyond composer, Michael Giacchino. "I just feel honored and lucky to follow in the tradition of what came before me and to contribute to the franchise."
Gene Roddenberry's son, Rod Roddenberry, shared a story about J.J. Abrams' early days working on Star Trek. "He actually asked for our family's blessing, when my mother was still alive. He didn't have to do that, but he did. It was sort of a nice touch, so it's nice to brought in and, on some level, be a part of this. I've heard from people who've seen it say that it's a very Star Trek-esque movie and very Gene Roddenberry-esque. And I'm excited to be a part of that."
"When we were constructing Beyond, we talked about it being 50 years, and about deconstructing Star Trek and the Federation. The Enterprise is the crew's home, and it felt like ripping it away would be a literal deconstruction. When we're doing it, even in the pre-viz phase, it was pretty emotional," Justin Lin told StarTrek.com. "I think for J.J.'s ship, there was no official blueprint, so we had to kind of build the ship as we were tearing it down. It's hard to describe, but it was just very emotional."
John Cho reflected on his time on Star Trek. "It's weird that it's almost nine years," he said. "I don't know how to process all of it. I know I'm honored. I know it feels like more than a job. And I think it will be a long time before I realize the extent of it. The more fans I meet and the more kinds of fans I meet, from all over the world, it gets deeper and deeper for me. It's wild, but it means a lot to me to be associated with something that brings so much positivity and optimism into the world."
One of the newest members of the Star Trek family, Sofia Boutella, shared her experience in becoming Jaylah. "The makeup took a long time, many hours every day. But I couldn't find Jaylah until I had the makeup on. And as soon as I had it on, and my shoes on, because the shoes were very important to me, I felt like the character."
Chris Pine, the U.S.S. Enterprise's captain, James T. Kirk, talked about the movie's director, Justin Lin. "I was really impressed by Justin's decisiveness," he said. "He came in very late in the game and we needed somebody to make a lot of decisions very quickly and be as much of a general as anything else, and he did that supremely and superbly."
"I will be totally honest with you about (the just-announced fourth Trek film, which will involve George and James Kirk interacting). I haven't been this excited about a specific story for a Star Trek movie that we've worked on before. It's my favorite story we've worked on," J.J. Abrams told StarTrek.com. "Even though I have great affinity for the movies we've done, this story is fantastic. It's one of the reasons I hope people see Beyond, because I so desperately want to make that next movie to be made."
And, during her time talking to StarTrek.com, Saldana became emotional as paid tribute to Yelchin. "This is a bittersweet moment," she said. "It's bittersweet because we are missing a member of our family. It why we're wearing a black pin in his honor. It's for Anton. So, we are all here smiling and celebrating... because we know it's what he would have wanted to do."
Star Trek Beyond opens July 22.