Could we ever see Star Trek V: The Shatner Cut?

The Shatner Cut
The Shatner Cut

Fans are powerful. Though studio executives make the decisions on what makes it to the screen, but ultimately, it is the fans who decide which franchise lives and which one dies. It is in this spirit that we bring to you the new movement to see William Shatner’s original vision of what Star Trek V should be. They’re calling it The Shatner Cut.

For those who are unaware, 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was directed and largely written by Captain Kirk himself. After watching Leonard Nimoy helm Star Treks III and VI, Shatner made a deal with Paramount. He would appear in The Voyage Home if he was allowed to have creative control over the next film. The producers agreed.

Harve Bennett, the legendary Hollywood producer who stepped in after The Motion Picture to revive the franchise, even called Star Trek V “Bill’s turn.”

William Shatner directing Walter Koenig on the Enterprise bridge on Star Trek V.
William Shatner directing Walter Koenig on the Enterprise bridge on Star Trek V. Courtesy of Paramount

From the very start of the process, Shatner faced an uphill battle, including the writer’s strike, finding a new special effects firm (as Industrial Light and Magic was booked solid), a shorter-than-normal window to finish the film, and a struggle over the plot of the film itself.

Shatner wanted to create an epic, which pitted the crew of the Enterprise against Satan, which would reveal God’s existence. Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was against this idea from the start, as it too closely resembled his scuttled “The God Thing” movie plot.

Eventually, the film’s original premise was reformed by writer David Loughery, Bennett, and Shatner. Left out were Shatner’s original ideas to have the crew mutiny against Kirk for the command of Sybok (played by Laurence Luckinbill). Sybok was Spock’s half-brother and antagonist of the film. Later, Spock and McCoy were changed as to not mutiny.

Shatner had a fantastical vision for Star Trek V, but budget cuts made the final product less than he hoped for.
Shatner had a fantastic vision for Star Trek V, but budget cuts made the final product less than he hoped for. Courtesy of Paramount

Some of the other decisions that changed the final film’s presentation were largely due to budgetary reasons. Yep. They ran out of money to produce the film as Shatner visioned it. As he told CinemaBlend a few years ago, this lack of funds changed an ending from spectacular to pedestrian

“I got the chance to direct a several-million-dollar movie, Star Trek V, and I did not get the help I needed in allocating my budget, so when it came to shooting the ending — needing a good villain and lots of computer graphics — I had run out of money,” said Shatner.

“I had to use footage that I had already shot — and spit on it a lot. I wanted to give [the audience] earth-breaking granite monsters spewing rocks and fire,” he said. “Instead, I had a few pebbles in my hand that I threw at the camera.”

Those rockmen suits would have cost $350,000 each, and Paramount wasn’t going to pay for ten of them.

The rockmen.
The rockmen. Courtesy of Paramount

The final result for Star Trek V was lackluster, by almost every account. The Final Frontier had the lowest opening weekend gross, when compared to its five predecessors, and seemed crowded out in the Summer of 1989, competing against Batman, Indiana Jones, Lethal Weapon, and Ghostbusters.

So forward to the present, when fans of Zack Snyder forced the corporate hand of Warner Brothers to release his version of Justice League. Snyder had been forced out by WB and the final version of the film was — by many accounts — terrible. Fans rallied after bits and pieces of footage and concept are leaked. And soon, WB will release Justice League: The Snyder Cut, the version of the film as the director intended.

That got some Trek fans thinking. If DC Comics fans could get WB to release the Snyder Cut, could Paramount release a version of Star Trek V, using the original concepts and ideas as put forth by William Shatner?

The original #ReleaseTheShatnerCut Tweet.

Thanks to Twitter user Kobayashi Saru (who we attempted to contact for this story, but were unable to) a little movement started online. Trek fans retweeted Saru’s original statement, and the hashtag #ReleaseTheShatnerCut started circulating. So much so, that Captain Kirk responded:

William Shatner's response on Twitter after #ReleaseTheShatnerCut became popular.

With modern technology, Shatner and Star Trek czar Alex Kurtzman could easily add the effects that were stripped from Star Trek V’s original release, from the breakthrough at the Great Barrier to the battle with the rockmen. There are additional scenes that were filmed but not included in the original cut as well, which could be introduced.

As noted before, only the fans have the power to make something like this happen. Can Trek fans rally to see Star Trek V: The Shatner Cut released as DC fans did before them?

Besides, George Lucas fiddled with his films for years (for better or for worse), which set a precedent for creators everywhere to have license to redo what should have been done the first time. Who better than to fix Star Trek V than Captain Kirk?