Star Trek 4's Release Date Delay Shows How The Franchise Has Changed

After the delay of the newest Transformers film, Rise of the Beasts, Paramount Pictures announced Star Trek 4 had also been delayed to Dec. 22, 2023, which continues to highlight a distinct trend in how the marketing of sci-fi films has changed. Over the last few years, there has been a noticeable shift in the way that sci-fi films have been marketed, largely thanks to the success of tentpole franchises such as Star Wars and Star Trek, to name but two.

Initially battling against its fellow sci-fi franchise, the release of Star Trek 4 would have opened the same weekend as Rogue Squadron, which has also since been delayed. This trend, which began to emerge over the past several years, sees moviegoers becoming accustomed to traveling to their local theater during the holiday season to see what is being marketed as “must-see” entertainment, which often targets moviegoers' sense of nostalgia.

Related: Why Transformers Is Finally Making Beast Wars Now

Since its return in 2015 and before its brief hiatus, Star Wars had made a claim on the holiday season, had dominated the global box office, and broke records. Though not exclusive to December, major studios appear to have taken notice of the lucrative potential of the holiday season because of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker's box office returns, and have seemingly allocated this time as a premier stage to debut their boldest sci-fi or fantasy blockbuster film, which is, in all likelihood part of a franchise. 

In general, contemporary blockbuster films are often based on a pre-existing intellectual property, and the holiday season appears to be particularly effective at bringing back families to the theater to see characters they are presumably familiar with back on the big screen. Although this time of year is not exclusively where moviegoers can expect to see the next installment into a popular franchise, there does seem to be a noticeable trend happening during this time of year. Looking at the top 20 all-time biggest weekend domestic box office returns for November and December, 95% of the films are based on an existing intellectual property. Coincidentally, accounting for that 5% is James Cameron’s high-grossing box office record-breaking hit, Avatar, which is getting a sequel slated for release in December 2022.

Though it’s not exclusive to the holiday season, this time of year seems to bring out a desire among family members to pass on or share the properties they grew up with. Pairing Star Wars, a series that has a decade between each new trilogy, with the holiday season encourages this sense of nostalgia, which is precisely the desired effect from major studios. The delay of Star Trek 4 by Paramount Pictures continues to demonstrate how lucrative this time of year can be. As long as they continue to reboot or offer sequels to these pre-existing intellectual properties, there is going to continue to be a sense of community and bonding that happens over these films, which is perfect for the holiday season. 

Next: Star Trek 4 Should Replace Captain Kirk With Young Picard

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