Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

PG | 108 mins | Science fiction, Adventure | 9 June 1989

Producer:

Harve Bennett

Cinematographer:

Andrew Laszlo

Editor:

Peter Berger

Production Designer:

Herman Zimmerman

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures
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HISTORY

A few months after the successful release of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986, see entry), the 15 Apr 1987 DV announced that returning producer Harve Bennett had begun developing a screenplay for Star Trek V with star William Shatner. According to the 22 Apr 1987 DV, the sequel was included in the renewal of Bennett’s three-year production deal with Paramount, and marked Shatner’s feature directorial debut. Although he previously worked behind the camera on several episodes of his ABC-CBS television series, T. J. Hooker (13 Mar 1982—28 May 1986), Shatner told the 29 Dec 1988 DV that he was assigned the job due to “contractual obligations,” and suggested that Paramount executives were initially hesitant to entrust him with such a large-scale project.
       While the studio hoped to release the film by Christmas 1988, a 3 Dec 1987 DV brief reported that production was delayed a year due to scheduling conflicts with Leonard Nimoy’s own directorial effort, The Good Mother (1988, see entry). During this time, DeForest Kelley fell ill and was forced to undergo surgery, but the Jun 1989 issue of Music Express stated that he recovered in time to start filming.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files indicate that principal photography began 11 Oct 1988 in California’s Yosemite National Park. Three days later, production relocated to the dry bed of Owens Lake in Inyo County, CA, which doubled as the surface of “Nimbus III.” There, the art department spent more than six weeks constructing the “Paradise City” set using rusted steel from a nearby mine and lumber transported ... More Less

A few months after the successful release of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986, see entry), the 15 Apr 1987 DV announced that returning producer Harve Bennett had begun developing a screenplay for Star Trek V with star William Shatner. According to the 22 Apr 1987 DV, the sequel was included in the renewal of Bennett’s three-year production deal with Paramount, and marked Shatner’s feature directorial debut. Although he previously worked behind the camera on several episodes of his ABC-CBS television series, T. J. Hooker (13 Mar 1982—28 May 1986), Shatner told the 29 Dec 1988 DV that he was assigned the job due to “contractual obligations,” and suggested that Paramount executives were initially hesitant to entrust him with such a large-scale project.
       While the studio hoped to release the film by Christmas 1988, a 3 Dec 1987 DV brief reported that production was delayed a year due to scheduling conflicts with Leonard Nimoy’s own directorial effort, The Good Mother (1988, see entry). During this time, DeForest Kelley fell ill and was forced to undergo surgery, but the Jun 1989 issue of Music Express stated that he recovered in time to start filming.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files indicate that principal photography began 11 Oct 1988 in California’s Yosemite National Park. Three days later, production relocated to the dry bed of Owens Lake in Inyo County, CA, which doubled as the surface of “Nimbus III.” There, the art department spent more than six weeks constructing the “Paradise City” set using rusted steel from a nearby mine and lumber transported from Ridgecrest, CA. Scenes on the surface of the mythical planet “Sha Ka Ree” were shot at the Trona Pinnacles in Trona, CA.
       According to the Star Trek V official movie magazine, the remainder of the production was completed 26 Oct—27 Dec 1988 on five different sound stages at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, CA. For the fifth installment of the series, production designer Herman Zimmerman, who was simultaneously working on the television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation (syndication, 28 Sep 1987—23 May 1994), made several technical updates to the “USS Enterprise” set, including backlit plexiglass panels, a new ceiling and viewscreen, polar-motion screens, and television monitors. In addition, costume supervisor Dodie Shepard redesigned the “Federation” and “Klingon” uniforms, while dialogue consultant Marc Okrand, author of The Klingon Dictionary (1985), perfected the words and grammar spoken by the Klingon characters in the script.
       Although some location shooting had to be eliminated to stay within the budget, the 29 Dec 1988 DV stated that principal photography was completed two days ahead of schedule at a cost of $32 million. A 4 Sep 1988 LAT item reported that Paramount registered titles with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for both Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek V: The Last Frontier, but Shatner told Music Express that neither title was intended to indicate the end of the film series.
       Despite its heavy special effects, post-production was limited to just eighteen weeks in order to meet the scheduled 9 Jun 1989 release date. The 9 Jun 1989 issue of Back Stage stated that visual effects producer Bran Ferren of the New York-based Associates & Ferren subcontracted Peter Wallach to develop additional effects from his warehouse in Hoboken, NJ. Although intended as a temporary facility, Wallach’s studio housed a miniature model shop; a rigging shop; a pyrotechnics lab; and the industry’s second largest motion-control track next to Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) in San Rafael, CA. Production notes state that the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at the California Institute of Technology provided infrared satellite images to “enhance the accuracy and beauty” of the film’s outer space backgrounds.
       While visual effects were being completed on the East Coast, Paramount screened a rough cut of the picture for audiences in Los Angeles, CA. Although the preview was intended to test how the dialogue played onscreen, the 15 Jun 1989 HR stated that many viewers were confused by the partial effects in the climactic “god” sequence, inciting rampant rumors of an overall negative reception. As the studio attempted to execute “damage control” to eliminate gossip, the 8 Jun 1989 HR indicated that critics responded warmly to the film at a media screening held 5 Jun 1989 at Mann’s Village Theatre in Westwood, CA. Regardless, the film was generally panned by both critics and audiences upon its release.
       A 14 Jun 1989 DV advertisement listed a three-day box-office gross of $17,375,648 from 2,202 theaters, making it the most successful opening weekend of any Star Trek film to date. However, the Aug 1989 Box reported a rapid decline in business, and a 16 Jul 1989 LAT article stated that The Final Frontier had taken in just $45.7 million after four and a half weeks.
       To coincide with the film’s opening, Pocket Books published Captain’s Log: William Shatner’s Personal Account of the Making of ‘Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,’ which featured a behind-the-scenes look at the filmmaking process as told by his daughter, Lisabeth Shatner.
       Two years later, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and the rest of the principal cast reprised their roles for the final installment in the original film franchise, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991, see entry). In addition to Star Trek: The Next Generation, additional television series include 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). A third film, Star Trek Beyond, was released in Jul 2016.
       End credits state: “Highest Descender Fall Recorded in the United States, Ken Bates”; “Star Trek® is the registered trademark of Paramount Pictures Corporation and is registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office”; “Special Thanks to: Jim Bissell; Tim Down; Robert Parker; Yosemite National Park Services, Jack Morehead, Superintendent; Bureau of Land Management; California Film Commission; State of California, State Lands Commissions; Madera County Film Commission; Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena; Reebok International, Ltd.; Jack Daniels; Apple Computers; Monster Cable®; Revo, Inc.; International Scientific Instruments, Inc.; Denton Vacuum, Inc.; Princeton Gamma-Tech; Electron Microscopy & Image Processing Equipment Provided by Carl Zeiss, Inc., de Graf/Wahrman, Inc., Base Gamma Electronic Systems; Marshmallows and Dispenser by Kraft, Inc.; Denim and Casual Clothing Provided by Levi Strauss & Co.”
       Special sound effects technician John Pospisil is credited onscreen as “John P.,” while Yosemite climbing sequence stunt rigger John McLeod is incorrectly listed as “John McCloud.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Back Stage
9 Jun 1989
p. 6, 16.
Box Office
Aug 1989.
---
Daily Variety
15 Apr 1987.
---
Daily Variety
3 Dec 1987.
---
Daily Variety
29 Dec 1988
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 1987
p. 1, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1989
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 1989
p. 4, 23.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1989
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
4 Sep 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Jun 1989
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
16 Jul 1989
Calendar, p. 29.
Music Express
Jun 1989
#137, pp. 72-73.
New York Times
9 Jun 1989
p. 10.
Variety
14 Jun 1989
p. 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Harve Bennett Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
Dir, Yosemite climbing seq
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Prod, Yosemite climbing seq
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst photog
1st asst photog
2d asst photog
2d asst photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
1st company grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
1st asst climbing photog, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Cam op, Yosemite climbing seq
Cam op, Yosemite climbing seq
Asst photog, Yosemite climbing seq
Asst photog, Yosemite climbing seq
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutting by
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Lead person
Prop master
Prop master
Const coord
Const foreperson
Paint foreperson
Prod painter
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Climbing rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Men's ward
Men's ward
Men's ward
Women's ward
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Utility sd tech
Sd eff
Spec sd eff
Spec sd eff
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Foley ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd eff rec
Sd eff rec
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff by
Spec eff supv
Spec eff asst
Computer anim and tactical display
Computer anim and tactical display, Novocom
Computer anim and tactical display, Novocom
Computer anim and tactical display, Novocom
Computer anim and tactical display, Novocom
Spec visual eff prod by
Visual eff coord, Associates & Ferren
Gen mgr, Associates & Ferren
Asst prod, Associates & Ferren
Purchasing agent, Associates & Ferren
Asst to Mr. Ferren, Associates & Ferren
Photog, Live action eff unit
Photog, Live action eff unit
Cam op, Live action eff unit
Asst photog, Live action eff unit
Mechanical eng, Live action eff unit
Mechanical fabrication, Live action eff unit
Mechanical fabrication, Live action eff unit
Elec eng, Live action eff unit
Elec eng, Live action eff unit
Elec eng, Live action eff unit
Elec tech, Live action eff unit
Elec tech, Live action eff unit
Elec tech, Live action eff unit
Spec projects supv, Live action eff unit
Computer eng, Live action eff unit
Computer eng, Live action eff unit
Computer eng, Live action eff unit
Equip mgr, Live action eff unit
Film librarian, Live action eff unit
Process projection support, Live action eff unit
Motion control & anim supv, Model unit
Motion control & anim prod, Model unit
Model photog des and lighting, Model unit
Sr motion control photog, Model unit
Motion control cam op, Model unit
Prod exec, Model unit
Model unit mgr, Model unit
Motion control stage mgr, Model unit
Model unit coord, Model unit
Sr model maker, Model unit
Model maker, Model unit
Asst model wrangler, Model unit
Fabricator, Model unit
Chief lighting tech, Model unit
Chief lighting tech, Model unit
Set const, Model unit
Motion control support, Model unit
Props, Model unit
Opt coord, Model unit
2-D supv, Model unit
Anim stand cam op, Model unit
Anim stand cam op, Model unit
2-D artist, Model unit
2-D artist, Model unit
2-D artist, Model unit
Decals and graphics, Model unit
New spacecraft models des by
Opt supv, Opt unit
Sr opt photog, Opt unit
Sr opt layout, Opt unit
Sr col timer, Opt unit
Opt photog, Opt unit
Opt layout, Opt unit
Opt layout, Opt unit
Opt layout, Opt unit
Eff anim supv, Opt unit
Sr eff anim, Opt unit
Sr anim stand photog, Opt unit
Eff anim, Opt unit
Precision printer, Opt unit
Precision painter, Opt unit
Titles and opticals, Addl opt eff
Titles and opticals, Addl opt eff
Addl opt eff, Visual Concept Engineering
Matte paintings by
Matte paintings, Illusion Arts
Matte photog, Illusion Arts
Stock opt recomposites by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Spec makeup des by
Spec makeup artist
Spec makeup artist
Spec makeup artist
Spec makeup artist
Spec makeup artist
Spec makeup artist
Klingon and Vulcan prosthetics by
Klingon and Vulcan prosthetics by, Richard Snell M
Klingon and Vulcan prosthetics by, Richard Snell M
Klingon and Vulcan prosthetics by, Richard Snell M
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec consultant
Casting
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Wrangler
Craft services
Unit pub
Klingon dial consultant
Prod auditor
Asst prod auditor
Asst prod auditor
Asst to Mr. Shatner
Asst to Mr. Shatner
Asst to Mr. Bennett
Secy to Mr. Bennett
Asst to Mr. Winter
Asst to Mr. Roddenberry
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Voice casting by
Yosemite climbing seq provided by
Coord, Yosemite climbing seq
Prod asst, Yosemite climbing seq
Tech adv, Yosemite climbing seq
Tech adv, Yosemite climbing seq
Paramedic, Yosemite climbing seq
Scientific adv
Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, Jet Propulsions Lab, Pasadena
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt double for William Shatner
Stunt double for Leonard Nimoy
High fall stunt
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Climbing double for William Shatner, Yosemite clim
Stunt rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
Stunt rigger, Yosemite climbing seq
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry (NBC, 8 Sep 1966--3 Jun 1969).
SONGS
"The Moon's A Window To Heaven," music by Jerry Goldsmith, lyric by John Bettis, performed by Hiroshima, produced by Dan Kuramoto, Hiroshima courtesy of Epic Records
Fanfare From "Star Trek" Television Series, music by Alexander Courage.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Titles:
Star Trek V
Star Trek V: The Last Frontier
Release Date:
9 June 1989
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 9 June 1989
Production Date:
11 October--27 December 1988
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
28 November 1989
Copyright Number:
PA436660
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
108
Length(in feet):
9,598
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29579
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In an area of neutral space located between the United Federation of Planets and the Romulan and Klingon Empires, the renegade Vulcan missionary, Sybok, approaches a scavenger named J’onn on the arid surface of Nimbus III. Sensing the man’s anguish, Sybok uses his telepathic abilities to encourage J’onn to let go of his pain and accompany him on a quest for “ultimate knowledge.” In the capital of Paradise City, Federation representative St. John Talbot, Klingon consul Korrd, and Romulan Caitlin Dar meet in secret to discuss the planet’s future. Although Nimbus III was intended to represent peace between their people, the settlements failed and the unscrupulous colonists quickly resorted to violence. Accompanied by a band of followers, Sybok descends on Paradise City, kidnaps the ambassadors, and convinces them to join his cause. Meanwhile, on Earth, Starfleet Captain James “Jim” T. Kirk spends his shore leave climbing mountains in Yosemite National Park with his friends, Spock and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. From his position on the ground, Bones anxiously watches as Kirk loses his footing and plummets off the side of the cliff. Wearing a pair of rocket boots, Spock propels himself through the air and narrowly saves Kirk. That evening over a pot of baked beans, Kirk and Bones attempt to teach Spock their favorite childhood campfire songs. Back at the Starfleet space dock, chief engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott and communications officer Nyota Uhura receive a distress call alerting them to the hostage situation on Nimbus III. Although the newly refitted USS Enterprise is undergoing ... +


In an area of neutral space located between the United Federation of Planets and the Romulan and Klingon Empires, the renegade Vulcan missionary, Sybok, approaches a scavenger named J’onn on the arid surface of Nimbus III. Sensing the man’s anguish, Sybok uses his telepathic abilities to encourage J’onn to let go of his pain and accompany him on a quest for “ultimate knowledge.” In the capital of Paradise City, Federation representative St. John Talbot, Klingon consul Korrd, and Romulan Caitlin Dar meet in secret to discuss the planet’s future. Although Nimbus III was intended to represent peace between their people, the settlements failed and the unscrupulous colonists quickly resorted to violence. Accompanied by a band of followers, Sybok descends on Paradise City, kidnaps the ambassadors, and convinces them to join his cause. Meanwhile, on Earth, Starfleet Captain James “Jim” T. Kirk spends his shore leave climbing mountains in Yosemite National Park with his friends, Spock and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. From his position on the ground, Bones anxiously watches as Kirk loses his footing and plummets off the side of the cliff. Wearing a pair of rocket boots, Spock propels himself through the air and narrowly saves Kirk. That evening over a pot of baked beans, Kirk and Bones attempt to teach Spock their favorite childhood campfire songs. Back at the Starfleet space dock, chief engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott and communications officer Nyota Uhura receive a distress call alerting them to the hostage situation on Nimbus III. Although the newly refitted USS Enterprise is undergoing extensive repairs, Uhura assembles a skeleton crew, and the ship departs for Nimbus III. As Kirk reviews a video transmission from the hostages, Spock identifies Sybok as a former schoolmate who rejected the Vulcans’ “logical” way of life and embraced his primal emotions. With the transporters still inoperative, Kirk, Spock, and Bones shuttle a rescue team to an obscure location on the planet’s surface, hoping to reach Paradise City before their Klingon counterparts. While Uhura creates a distraction, the crew steal several horses and enter the city disguised as Sybok’s followers. Once they find the hostages, however, they realize the kidnapping was a ruse to hijack a Federation starship. Under Sybok’s command, the crew and the three diplomats shuttle back to the Enterprise, but navigator Pavel Chekov is forced to raise the defense shields against an oncoming Klingon “Bird-of-Prey” warship led by the ruthless warrior, Captain Klaa. In order to bypass the usual docking procedure that would put the Enterprise at risk, helmsman Hikaru Sulu manually steers the shuttle and crashes inside the loading bay. Once the vessel is safely onboard, the Enterprise shifts into warp drive and evades Klaa’s torpedoes. Although Kirk overpowers Sybok, Spock is unable to shoot his fellow Vulcan, and Sybok seizes control of the ship. On the bridge, Sybok makes an announcement claiming he has found the mythical eden of Sha Ka Ree, located at the center of the galaxy. In the brig, Spock reveals that Sybok is actually his paternal half-brother, born to a Vulcan princess. With Scotty’s help, Spock, Kirk, and Bones escape from their cell and reach the ship’s emergency beacon on the upper deck. Kirk emits a distress signal to Starfleet, noting their approximate location, unaware that Captain Klaa’s ship has intercepted the message. When Sybok finds them, he encourages them to share their fears and pain, causing Bones to relive traumatic memories of his father’s death. Although momentarily swayed by the Vulcan’s powers, he and Spock decide to remain at Kirk’s side. Kirk insists that Sybok is a madman and braces himself as the missionary orders the Enterprise to travel through a dangerous energy field known as the Great Barrier. The ship safely emerges on the other side, revealing an illuminated blue planet, which Sybok assumes to be Sha Ka Ree. Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Sybok shuttle to the surface, where a glowing blue entity bursts from the ground. Using a male voice, the entity identifies itself as an almighty god, and declares that they are the first travelers to ever breach the Great Barrier. When Kirk and Spock express their doubts about its omnipotence, the entity becomes angry and demands use of their ship to escape imprisonment on the planet. Realizing he has been manipulated, Sybok sacrifices himself so his comrades can escape. On the Enterprise, Scotty restores enough transporter power to beam Spock and Bones onboard, leaving Kirk stranded. As the Klingon warship approaches, Captain Klaa hails the Enterprise and orders Spock to disclose Kirk’s coordinates on the planet below. Devising a plan, Spock convinces Korrd to use his rank as a senior officer to assume control of Klaa’s ship and destroy the entity. Suddenly, Kirk is beamed aboard the Bird-of-Prey, and Korrd forces Klaa to apologize. As Kirk extends his thanks, Korrd acknowledges that Spock was the one responsible for saving his life. After celebrating the Federation’s new alliance with the Klingon and Romulan Empires, Kirk, Spock, and Bones resume their trip in Yosemite, where Spock plays a rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” on his Vulcan lute. +

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

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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.