After Gene Roddenberry and Paramount Studios decided to move Star Trek from a television show into a movie, the results left Paramount a little unhappy. Star Trek: The Motion Picture had a whopping $46 million budget at a time when that was a lot of money. And while the film did opening at number one at the box office and made a respectable $139 million worldwide (only $82 million domestically) Paramount was hoping for more. The critics weren’t too kind on the film either. The main complaints were that the movie was boring and talky. Paramount also felt that Gene Roddenberry’s interference during production drove up the film’s cost and created an inferior film. When it was decided that they should make a sequel, Roddenberry was removed from production. Harve Bennett was placed in charge of the franchise and Nicholas Meyer was tasked with directing the film.
The film’s budget was slashed to $8 million and then bumped up to $11 million. Footage, sets, props and costumes were reused to cut costs but redressed so it wasn’t so obvious. The plot followed up an old Star Trek episode called Space Seed to give the film a villain and it kicked up the action too. Meyer wanted the film to be similar to Horatio Hornblower and added a nautical and swashbuckling feel to the film.
The plot has the aging crew of the Enterprise taking the ship out with a group of Starfleet trainees. They receive a distress call from a nearby science station. It appears that the science crew have uncovered someone long forgotten and his wrath is long reaching. What ensues is a battle between two captains over revenge and a powerful science experiment that can be used as a weapon.
The movie opened in June of 1982 and was number one at the box office for a week, kicking the previous week’s winner, Rocky 3 down to the number two spot. It also beat another new film, Poltergeist, which debut in the number three spot. The following week a certain Steve Spielberg movie opened that broke all sorts of box office records and moved Star Trek II into the number two spot. Of course who could forecast that E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial would become the highest grossing movie at the time. Still the success of Wrath of Khan ensured that there would be a Star Trek franchise for a few years to come.