Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

PG | 105 mins | Adventure, Science fiction | 1 June 1984

Director:

Leonard Nimoy

Writer:

Harve Bennett

Producer:

Harve Bennett

Cinematographer:

Charles Correll

Production Designer:

John E. Chilberg, II

Production Companies:

Paramount Pictures , Cinema Group Venture
Full page view
HISTORY

The film opens with footage of “Spock’s” death and funeral from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, see entry), tinted with a blue filter that gradually transitions to full color. Leonard Nimoy narrates a modified version of the opening narration from the original Star Trek television series (NBC, 8 Sep 1966—3 Jun 1969): “Space: the final frontier. These are the continuing voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life forms, and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
       End credits are preceded by a title card reading, “...and the Adventure continues…”
       Onscreen acknowledgments state: "Special Thanks to United States Marine Corp Air/Group Combat Center, 29 Palms, California."
       Roughly a month before the 4 Jun 1982 release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the 18 May 1982 LAHExam announced Paramount Pictures’ intent to continue the franchise with Star Trek: In Search of Spock, a working title that quelled the concern of fans who believed Nimoy’s character, Spock, had been killed off at the end of the previous film. On 22 Jan 1983, LAHExam stated that Nimoy would not only reprise the role, but also direct. Although the project marked his first time as a feature film director, the former U.S. Army sergeant directed several theater productions while stationed in Georgia in the 1950s, and went on to direct episodes of the television series Night Gallery (NBC, 16 Dec 1970—27 May 1973), The Powers of Matthew Star (NBC, 17 Sep 1982—15 Apr 1983), and ... More Less

The film opens with footage of “Spock’s” death and funeral from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, see entry), tinted with a blue filter that gradually transitions to full color. Leonard Nimoy narrates a modified version of the opening narration from the original Star Trek television series (NBC, 8 Sep 1966—3 Jun 1969): “Space: the final frontier. These are the continuing voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life forms, and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
       End credits are preceded by a title card reading, “...and the Adventure continues…”
       Onscreen acknowledgments state: "Special Thanks to United States Marine Corp Air/Group Combat Center, 29 Palms, California."
       Roughly a month before the 4 Jun 1982 release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the 18 May 1982 LAHExam announced Paramount Pictures’ intent to continue the franchise with Star Trek: In Search of Spock, a working title that quelled the concern of fans who believed Nimoy’s character, Spock, had been killed off at the end of the previous film. On 22 Jan 1983, LAHExam stated that Nimoy would not only reprise the role, but also direct. Although the project marked his first time as a feature film director, the former U.S. Army sergeant directed several theater productions while stationed in Georgia in the 1950s, and went on to direct episodes of the television series Night Gallery (NBC, 16 Dec 1970—27 May 1973), The Powers of Matthew Star (NBC, 17 Sep 1982—15 Apr 1983), and T. J. Hooker (ABC and CBS, 13 Mar 1982—28 May 1986), the latter of which starred Star Trek’s William Shatner. According to a 4 Aug 1983 LAT article, Nimoy welcomed the chance to contribute ideas he had about the series, and the May 1984 Marquee noted his intent to return the focus of the story to its characters, which he felt were severely underserviced in the first film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979, see entry). The budget was set at roughly $15-$16 million—a marginal increase from the $12-million cost of The Wrath of Khan.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files indicate that principal photography began 15 Aug 1983 at Stage 9 of the Paramount studios in Hollywood, CA. Stage 9 contained the entirety of the “USS Enterprise” sets, as well as the San Francisco bar used in a scene featuring DeForest Kelley’s character, “Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy.” Partway through filming, the Enterprise bridge was redressed to double as the “USS Grissom,” a vessel reportedly named for fallen Apollo astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom. On 25 Aug 1983, production moved to the San Francisco transporter station set on Stage 8, which was also home to “Jim Kirk’s” San Francisco apartment, the Starfleet Electronics Center, and the prison where Dr. McCoy is incarcerated. That afternoon, an arson fire destroyed Paramount’s famed New York Street, but production of Star Trek III was unaffected.
       The Stage 5 set used for “Kruge’s” Bird-of-Prey warship was previously featured in both preceding Star Trek film installments: first as the Klingon cruiser bridge in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, then as the Enterprise torpedo room in The Wrath of Khan. Scenes on the altar of Vulcan’s Mount Seleya were shot using forced perspective and oversized sets. The Vulcan surface landing was filmed over two nights on the Occidental College campus in Glendale, CA, and later completed on Paramount’s Stage 4. In mid-Sep 1983, production began on the Genesis planet action sequences on Stages 12, 14, and 15. In an article in the Aug/Sep 1984 issue of AmCin, director of photography Charles Correll expressed doubts about shooting the picture almost entirely on soundstages, and suggested locations in Kauai, HI, and Nevada’s Red Rock Canyon that could stand in as the two featured planets. However, Nimoy and Bennett remained determined to uphold the simpler, more cost-effective methods used on both the original television series and the previous films, forcing Correll to become creative with his use of color, lenses, and scale miniatures. The climactic shot of Kruge falling into a pit of lava was achieved by filming actor Christopher Lloyd against a black screen, then rotoscoping each frame and compositing the image with footage of a stop-motion puppet. Correll used Panaflex Gold equipment throughout production. Exterior Genesis scenes used Eastman 5247 film stock, while interior ship scenes were shot using Eastman 5294 color negative. Principal photography concluded 21 Oct 1983. According to a 28 Oct 1983 DV brief, Nimoy completed the film under budget at around $16 million, $4 million of which the 6 Jun 1984 Var estimated was spent on special effects.
       During production, the 19 Sep 1983 DV reported that the role of Vulcan “Lt. Saavik” originated by Kirstie Alley in The Wrath of Khan had been assumed by Robin Curtis after various sources suggested that Paramount refused to honor Alley’s increased salary demands. The 4 Aug 1983 LAT and 1 Jun 1984 NYT claimed Dame Judith Anderson was convinced to join the cast by Nimoy, who visited her Santa Barbara, CA, home to propose the role; and her nephew, who was an “ardent Star Trek fan.”
       According to Var, Paramount originally planned to book the film in 1,300-1,400 theaters, offering roughly twenty-five percent fewer seats than the previous entry, which debuted on 1,621 screens. However, increased exhibitor interest following positive test screenings in anti-blind bidding states prompted the studio to reconsider, and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock opened on a record-setting 1,966 screens. The 18 Apr 1984 HR stated that 100 of those engagements were shown in 70mm format. The film’s three-day gross of $16,673,229 was the largest non-holiday domestic opening weekend to date, and the Aug 1984 Box calculated ten-day earnings of more than $35 million.
       Reviews were generally positive, although several critics commented how the ambitious special effects clashed with Nimoy’s directorial approach to return to the more modest roots of the TV series.
       Nimoy reprised his duties as director for 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (see entry), and starred alongside the returning principal cast in two additional installments: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989, see entry) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991, see entry). Following the original Star Trek series and Star Trek: The Animated Series (NBC, 1973—1974), further television programs included Star Trek: The Next Generation (syndication, 1987—1994), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (syndication, 1993—1999), Star Trek: Voyager (UPN, 1995—2001), and Star Trek: Enterprise (UPN, 2001—2005). The Next Generation also spawned four feature films. In 2009, filmmaker J. J. Abrams “rebooted” the original series characters for Star Trek (see entry) and its sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness (2013, see entry). As of 18 Aug 2015, a third film is scheduled for release in summer 2016. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Aug/Sep 1984
pp. 54-63.
Box Office
Aug 1984.
---
Daily Variety
19 Sep 1983.
---
Daily Variety
28 Oct 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 1984
p. 4.
LAHExam
18 May 1982.
---
LAHExam
22 Jan 1983.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Aug 1983
Section VI, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
1 Jun 1984
Section H, p. 1, 11.
Marquee
May 1984
p. 26.
New York Times
1 Jun 1984
p. 14.
New York Times
1 Jun 1984.
---
Variety
30 May 1984
p. 12, 14.
Variety
6 Jun 1984
p. 5, 26.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Also Starring:
as Sarek
Introducing
as Lt. Saavik
and as Spock:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Harve Bennett Production
In Association with Cinema Group Venture
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d cam op
2d asst, 2d cam
Chief lighting tech
Best boy
Best boy
Key grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Video playback and displays by
Video supv, The Burbank Studios
Chief eng, The Burbank Studios
Video coord, The Burbank Studios
ART DIRECTORS
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Leadman
Swing gang
Swing gang
Const coord
Const foreman
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Set des
Set des
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's ward supv
Women's ward supv
Ward accessories
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
SOUND
Boom op
Utility
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
Foley by
Foley by
Spec sd eff by
Spec sd eff by
Addl sd eff
Addl sd eff, Sprocket Systems
Addl sd eff, Sprocket Systems
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec visual eff prod at
Marin County, California
Supv of visual eff, ILM
Visual eff art dir, ILM
Visual eff art dir, ILM
Opt photog supv, ILM
Visual eff cam, ILM
Visual eff cam, ILM
Visual eff cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Opt cam op, ILM
Opt cam op, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Gen mgr, ILM
Prod supv, ILM
Prod coord, ILM
Supv modelmaker, ILM
Addl spacecraft des, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Creature supv, ILM
Matte painting supv, ILM
Matte artist, ILM
Matte artist, ILM
Matte cam supv, ILM
Anim supv, ILM
Eff anim, ILM
Eff anim, ILM
Chief visual eff ed, ILM
Visual eff ed, ILM
Miniature pyrotechnics and fire eff, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Still photog supv, ILM
Equip eng supv, ILM
Instrumentation displays computer anim by
Graphics Division
Instrumentation displays computer anim by
Instrumentation displays computer anim by
Addl opt eff by
DANCE
Choreog
Asst choreog
MAKEUP
Spec makeup appliances created by
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Addl hairstylist
Addl hairstylist
Addl hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec consultant
Scr supv
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Craft service
Unit pub
Alien language created by
Asst to Mr. Schoenbrun
Dial coach
Voice-over casting
Asst to Mr. Bennett
Asst to Mr. Nimoy
Prod asst
Casting
Casting
Casting
STAND INS
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Voices:
Spock screams
Enterprise computer
Flight recorder
Space dock controller
Elevator voice
[and]
Background voices
Stunt double for William Shatner
Stunt double for Christopher Lloyd
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the television series Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry (NBC, 8 Sep 1966--3 Jun 1969).
SONGS
Theme from Star Trek television series, music by Alexander Courage
"Genesis Project," by Craig Hundley
"I Remember You," by Johnny Mercer & Victor Schertzinger
+
SONGS
Theme from Star Trek television series, music by Alexander Courage
"Genesis Project," by Craig Hundley
"I Remember You," by Johnny Mercer & Victor Schertzinger
"That Old Black Magic," by Johnny Mercer & Harold Arlen
"Tangerine," by Johnny Mercer & Victor Schertzinger.
+
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Titles:
Star Trek: In Search of Spock
Star Trek III: In Search of Spock
Star Trek III
Release Date:
1 June 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 1 June 1984
Production Date:
15 August--21 October 1983
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
20 June 1984
Copyright Number:
PA214571
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo® in selected theaters
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
105
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27384
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Following the devastating attack of Khan Noonien Singh, USS Enterprise Admiral James “Jim” T. Kirk records in his captain’s log that his son, David Marcus, has accompanied Lt. Saavik in exploring the surface of the newly-formed Genesis planet. While his crewmembers repair the ship for its return to Starfleet headquarters on Earth, Kirk remains deeply affected by the death of his best friend, Spock. Elsewhere in space, a female Klingon named Valkris waits in a freighter vessel for her lover, Kruge, who arrives in a “Bird-of-Prey” warship and receives a tape containing top-secret information about Project Genesis. When Valkris admits to watching the video, Kruge determines that she must die, and detonates her ship before heading toward a neutral space zone. As the Enterprise reaches the space dock orbiting above Earth’s surface, the crew admires the USS Excelsior, a modern ship equipped with high-powered “transwarp” drive. Helmsman Pavel Chekov picks up an impossible life form reading from Spock’s quarters onboard, prompting Kirk to discover that the sealed door has been breached. Inside, he finds Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, seemingly deranged, reciting words and phrases from Spock’s spiritual memories, or katra, which were telepathically transmitted to him just before the ... +


Following the devastating attack of Khan Noonien Singh, USS Enterprise Admiral James “Jim” T. Kirk records in his captain’s log that his son, David Marcus, has accompanied Lt. Saavik in exploring the surface of the newly-formed Genesis planet. While his crewmembers repair the ship for its return to Starfleet headquarters on Earth, Kirk remains deeply affected by the death of his best friend, Spock. Elsewhere in space, a female Klingon named Valkris waits in a freighter vessel for her lover, Kruge, who arrives in a “Bird-of-Prey” warship and receives a tape containing top-secret information about Project Genesis. When Valkris admits to watching the video, Kruge determines that she must die, and detonates her ship before heading toward a neutral space zone. As the Enterprise reaches the space dock orbiting above Earth’s surface, the crew admires the USS Excelsior, a modern ship equipped with high-powered “transwarp” drive. Helmsman Pavel Chekov picks up an impossible life form reading from Spock’s quarters onboard, prompting Kirk to discover that the sealed door has been breached. Inside, he finds Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, seemingly deranged, reciting words and phrases from Spock’s spiritual memories, or katra, which were telepathically transmitted to him just before the Vulcan’s death. On the space dock, Starfleet Commander Harry Morrow announces that the Enterprise crew will be granted high honors and extended shore leave, barring Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, who has been assigned as Captain of Engineering on Excelsior. When Scotty refuses the post to stay on the Enterprise, he learns that the ship will not be refitted for futher voyages to Genesis, which has been officially quarantined. Back on the Klingon warship, Kruge watches Kirk’s tape describing the ability of the Genesis device to create life on uninhabitable planets, and decides to break the Klingon peace treaty with the United Federation of Planets by colonizing Genesis. Meanwhile, science vessel Grissom arrives at Genesis to begin research under the supervision of David, Saavik, and Captain J. T. Esteban. When they discover an unidentified life form in Spock’s casket lying on the surface, David and Saavik beam down to investigate. At his house in San Francisco, California, Kirk is visited by Spock’s Vulcan father, Ambassador Sarek, enraged that Spock’s body was not returned home to Vulcan. Sarek requests to form a telepathic “mind meld” with Kirk to determine Spock’s last words, which mention nothing about the preservation of his katra. Using security video footage, Kirk realizes that Spock transmitted his spirit to Bones, who must be brought to Vulcan’s Mount Seleya to find peace. On Genesis, David and Saavik discover Spock’s empty casket, with only his burial robe left behind. When Harry refuses to let Kirk search for Spock’s body, the captain elects to go anyway, accompanied by Chekov and Hikaru Sulu. Meanwhile, at a bar, Bones attempts to charter an illegal flight to Genesis, but is subsequently arrested by a Federation security officer. As Kirk and Sulu break him out of prison, Scotty secretly repairs the Enterprise, and Nyota Uhura takes a job at a run-down transporter operation station to illicitly beam her friends onto the ship. Uhura promises to meet them on Vulcan, and the men hijack the Enterprise, sending it into warp speed. Excelsior Captain Styles prepares to use transwarp to pursue them, but Scotty has sabotaged the ignition, causing it to fail. Back on the stormy surface of Genesis, David and Saavik encounter a young Vulcan boy and theorize that he is Spock, regenerated by the planet. While waiting for instructions from Starfleet, Kruge’s Klingon warship appears, and its gunman makes an unauthorized shot which destroys Grissom. Kruge tracks the location of the marooned landing party, who seek shelter from possible capture. David admits that he bent the rules in Genesis’s formation by knowingly using an unstable substance, which may yield detrimental effects on the life forms created there. As the planet and Spock simultaneously age at unnaturally rapid speed, Saavik mates with the boy to quell his Pon farr —an intense, potentially fatal mating period experienced by adult Vulcans every seven years. In the morning, Kruge finds their camp to demand Saavik divulge details about the Genesis experiments, but she reveals nothing except the project’s failure. Just then, Kruge is summoned back to his ship, now hidden behind a cloaking device, to challenge the oncoming Enterprise. Although the starship’s systems overload, rendering their weapons useless, Kirk threatens to destroy the Klingons if they do not immediately surrender. Calling the captain’s bluff, Kruge allows Kirk to speak to Saavik and David via transmitter, and the scientists reveal that the planet will self-destruct within hours. The Klingon orders his henchman to execute one of the captives, and David is stabbed attempting to save Saavik. Devastated by the loss of his only son, Kirk programs the ship to self-destruct and leads his crew to the planet’s surface. Seconds after Kruge’s entire Klingon team invades the empty Enterprise, the starship explodes, killing them instantly. The Enterprise crew find Saavik and Spock, whose painful physical transformations continue until his body matures to its state at the time of his death. Although his mind is underdeveloped, Bones surmises that he is mentally carrying the entirety of Spock’s knowledge. Realizing that they need to evacuate the rapidly deteriorating planet, Kirk communicates with Kruge, offering to reveal Genesis secrets if he beams them aboard his warship. However, Kruge transports himself to the surface to negotiate, and the two men fight until the Klingon falls to his death in a fiery pit. Using Kruge’s hailing device, the crew, Saavik, and Spock hijack the enemy vessel and turn it toward Vulcan. Once there, the crew meet Uhura and Sarek, carrying Spock to a temple in Mount Seleya, where the elderly priestess T’Lar conducts the fal-tor-pan ceremony to re-fuse Spock’s katra with his body. Despite the risks, Bones consents to the mind meld, which successfully restores the Vulcan’s spirit without harm. Sarek thanks Kirk for his sacrifices to save his son, but Kirk insists the mission was necessary. Spock begins to walk away, but stops to acknowledge his crew, gradually remembering his friendship with Kirk and the context of their final conversation before his death. As they happily huddle, Spock raises an inquisitive eyebrow at Kirk, who is overjoyed by the return of his friend. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.