The Only Reason Shatner Directed 'Star Trek V' Was A Feud With Nimoy

And he just about killed the franchise.
The Only Reason Shatner Directed 'Star Trek V' Was A Feud With Nimoy

Until the recent reboot, the most successful Star Trek film at the US box office was Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. That's pretty impressive—we can't offhand think of any other franchise where the fourth film manages to make the most money, and it did it on half the budget of Star Trek: The Motion Picture

That film was immediately followed up by Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Other than the supremely money-losing 2002 film Star Trek: Nemesis (which wasn't even the top film the week it came out, debuting behind a terrible Jennifer Lopez romcom), Star Trek V was the least successful Star Trek film. And yet, in its opening week, it made more money than any of its predecessors. 

So, safe to assume that this film did not have very good word-of-mouth. Take a look at how critics responded to the films. Again ignoring the (bizarrely highly reviewed) reboot movies, The Voyage Home was just about the best-received of the movies, neck and neck with Star Trek: First Contact. Star Trek V was the worst-reviewed Star Trek movie, by any measure. 

How'd the franchise get so much worse, so quickly, and so briefly? Possibly it was because Star Trek IV was directed by Leonard Nimoy, who'd directed other successful films as well, both Star Trek and non-Star Trek. The weird hunt-for-God movie Star Trek V, on the other hand, was the one Trek film directed by William Shatner.

When they were first starring in the original series, the two of them drew up contracts that guaranteed them equal compensation. That meant equal salaries as actors of course, but it also sorta meant that Shatner would get a crack at writing and directing a Star Trek film after Nimoy did, even if he wasn't up for the task.

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were bitter enemies, or dear friends, depending on which year of their lengthy relationship you're talking about. During the show, Shatner would sometimes try to steal Nimoy's lines, and other times he'd try to steal Nimoy's bicycle—to keep him from getting to the food before anyone else, Shatner claimed. 

Which may sound more like pranks between buds than a serious rivalry. But then, in the last years of his life, Nimoy refused to speak with Shatner, for reasons that remain undisclosed. Possibly it was because Nimoy finally accidentally saw Star Trek V on TV one day and never got over it. 

Top image: Paramount


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