When the crew of the Enterprise began its 5 year mission in 1966, few people understood the true significance of this little show that could. 50 years later, the Star Trek franchise has permeated deep into our collective consciousness, spawning seven TV series, including next year’s untitled reboot, and thirteen films. The franchise has influenced technological development (cellphones and touchscreens, among other items, owe their inspiration to the series) and inspired countless individuals to “boldly go where no one has gone before.”
And for a 50-year-old, Star Trek shows no signs of slowing down. With a new film, Star Trek Beyond, opening in this July and a new streaming TV series on the dockets for next year, as well as a non-canon movie on the horizon – assuming it survives the Paramount lawsuit – Star Trek is back onto the sci-fi radar in a big way. Fans of the series have plenty to celebrate.
And celebrate they will. Star Trek recently announced its 50th anniversary Star Trek: Mission New York convention in New York City. Held at from September 2-4 at the Javits Center, the site of the very first Star Trek convention in 1972, the commemorative convention will be hosted by CBS Consumer Products and ReedPop. The event brings together devotees and casual fans alike, offering scores of interactive activities, screenings of upcoming projects, a sea of merchandise, and of course, notables (to be announced) from the Star Trek universe past, present, and future. Larry Fensterman of ReedPop describes the convention:
“Star Trek: Mission New York will be a completely unique fan event unlike anything seen before, giving them the chance to go beyond panels and autograph signings, and immerse themselves in the Star Trek universe.”
For die-hard fans, this will actually be the second 50th anniversary convention, as Creation will also hold their semicentennial celebration in Las Vegas. Conventions aren’t just a fun place to hang out with fans and Star Trek luminaries; they enjoy a long history as microcosmical cultural events and have even shaped the course of history – at least Star Trek history. The first Star Trek convention was a gathering of like-minded fans, who pooled their money together and set up in a ballroom. Initially the convention was expected to draw in several hundred Trekkers, but convention organizers' low estimates rapidly ballooned into a crowd of several thousand aficionados. Guests speakers included creator Gene Roddenberry, show writer D.C. Fontana, author Isaac Asimov, and other TV and sci-fi luminaries.
One heavily attended convention blossomed into perennial events, which continue to attract top-flight Star Trek celebrities, visionaries, and vendors. The popularity of the Star Trek conventions, brought on in large effect by the syndicated run of the original Star Trek series, helped even helped convince executives at Paramount that there was enough interest in the series to create the short-lived Star Trek: The Animated Series and eventually fund Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
50 years later is a long time for a series. Some of the franchise’s moves have confounded old school fans, and maybe even Gene Roddenberry wouldn’t recognize his cinematic legacy. But he would undoubtedly appreciate the devotion of his fans and the impact his series had on the world.
Star Trek Beyond opens in U.S. theaters on July 22, 2016. The new Star Trek TV show will debut on CBS in January 2017.