The 1982 sci-fi drama Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is widely considered the best of all the Star Trek movies, a Shakespearean tragedy in which Spock (Leonard Nimoy) sacrifices his own life to save Kirk (William Shatner) and the Enterprise crew from the vengeance of the superhuman villain Khan (Ricardo Montalban). When the film was first shown to test audiences, however, the death of Spock was so devastating that producers demanded a more hopeful ending. “I fought it and fought it and fought it,” director Nicholas Meyer recalls in the featurette clip above, from the new Blu-ray edition of The Wrath of Khan. Over Meyer’s objections, Paramount spent an extra $100,000 shooting what would become the final scene of the film: the Vulcan officer’s coffin at rest on the Genesis planet, a place where life can be regenerated and restored. (The scene was actually shot at Golden Gate Park.)
“Now I look back and I think, what were you making such a big fuss about?” Meyer admits in the clip (which also features producer Robert Sallin and post-production executive Ralph Winter). “You do get a sense of closure and catharsis, but you also get that hope.” And, as Star Trek devotees know, that hope was rewarded: Spock was resurrected in 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and Nimoy went on to play the character in five subsequent Star Trek films before his death in February 2015.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Director’s Cut arrives for the first time ever on Blu-ray June 7, featuring over two hours of previously released special features and the new 30-minute documentary The Genesis Effect: Engineering “The Wrath of Khan” (from which the above clip is taken). Now everybody, all together: “KHAAAAAAAN!”