Space Ramblings

How Nokia and Bud Lite Showed Up on Star Trek

Wondering why James T. Kirk ordered Bud Lites in a bar or listened to the Beastie Boys on his Nokia car thingie? Looks like you can thank Roberto Orci for that (Along with blowing up Vulcan) and his commitment to shoving brands into a movie. Once upon a time the thought of having Spock smoking a spacecigar because a sponsor wanted him to was out of bounds. Now bring on the spacecigars.

Mr. Yospe was not a screenwriter, not a producer, not even a studio executive. No, Mr. Yospe was a lawyer with the firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. He was meeting with the writer-producer Roberto Orci, who co-wrote “Transformers” and “Star Trek,” to talk about how to include brands in “The 28th Amendment.”

The 28th Amendment, brought to you by Gordon Earplugs and Orion blindfolds. For when you’re stuck in a bad movie.

Deals like that mean lower-budget movies like “Up in the Air” can be made. They also mean movie viewers are increasingly paying to see more elaborately constructed advertising.

That is one reason that screenwriters’ groups like the Writers Guild of America-West have objected to the practice, and some writers are worried about further product placement.

“I think it’s lazy writing,” said Mary Gallagher, a screenwriter and instructor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

It’s not writing at all. It’s more advertising. Moviegoers see ads before a movie and during a movie. When it’s in a realistic context, that’s one thing. Kirk drinking a branded beer in the 20th century in Star Trek IV is one thing. Doing it in the 23rd is distracting and wrecks the movie’s reality.

While Mr. Yospe often writes dialogue, in the meeting with Mr. Orci, he was suggesting types of advertisers to include. (Mr. Orci’s father, Roberto Orci, who is president of the advertising agency Acento, and his staff joined the meeting to discuss how brands might help market the movie.)

Orci is really enthusiastic about this. So any movie he’s associated with is going to be covered in this crap. Unfortunately he’s producing the next Star Trek reboot which means crap advertising galore. In some better alternate universe, Orci joined his father in advertising. In this worse universe, he was responsible for a merchandising movie cashing in on Star Trek.

“You’ve written Gray has a Dodge Ram,” Mr. Yospe began, discussing a character. “Does it have to be a Dodge?’

“What’s wrong with Dodge? What have you got against Dodge?” said Mr. Orci, a soft-spoken 36-year-old.

The group began debating. In the script, Gray is described as “soldier-fit” but with “psychic damage.” Could someone like that drive, say, a Lincoln Navigator?

Can Kirk drive a Land Rover while ordering a Bud Lite? Can he use a Windows 7 phone? Can Microsoft pay for a logo on a shuttlecraft? Which brands will make into AbramsTrek2011? Stay tuned to find out!

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  • leilamahmoud February 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    star trek is a great movie

  • Heavy Armor February 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Or how about Kirk, Spock, and McCoy in 20th century casual wear provided by Levi Strauss and Reebok in Star Trek V?

    In the end, however, Gene and Majel’s deaths and Berman’s ouster means that all of the old guard of Star Trek are gone. For all of Berman’s storytelling faults and disdain for the Original Series, he at least had a sliver of understanding what Star Trek – and proper storytelling – is.

    Star Trek Alternate 2 sounds like its going to go the same way as sequels do these days – loud, overblown, bloated, makes a lot of money, and leaves the franchise is utter ruin (see James Bond, Transformers, Batman, and a few others).

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