In my opinion, one of the best part of being a movie fan is the anticipation. Sometimes, the very idea of a movie that is coming up can be better than the movie that follows (Phantom Menace, anyone?). The hype leading up to movies can come from many different things. It usually starts with a trailer, which can come up to a year before the movie actually comes out. Every thing from there on until the movie actually comes out just feeds into the hype.
For a time, one of the more memorable pieces of hype for me came from official movie magazines. Most of the big movies from the 80s and into the early 90s had them. Whenever I went into a book store or the grocery store, there was always a chance that there would be a surprise in the form of a movie magazine. Over the years, I had pretty many of them. Today, I still have a stack of them in the house. For the purpose of this review, I have selected the official movie magazine for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
This was a very hyped movie at the time. Not only was it the last hurrah for the original crew, it was produced while The Next Generation was a huge hit in syndication. It was also the 25th Anniversary of the beginning of the original series. Around this time, I got a set of all the original crew movies on video that, when lined up, made a picture of the original enterprise. So, when I saw the magazine at the grocery store magazine section, I know I wanted it.
Starlog Magazine was behind most of these movie magazines, so the people behind the magazine knew the properties they were dealing with, and there was a continuity to each of their magazines. There are sections for each of the main characters, with the actor talking about their characters actions in the movie in general terms. Sections are given to William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koening, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, as well as newcomers Kim Catrall as the Vulcan Lt. Valeris, and Christopher Plummer as the Klingon General Chang.
The most interesting part of the magazine for me is the “Mission Report” section. Coming right in between the Koening and Nichols sections, this portion pretty much lays out the entire movie, using photographs. This section tells you exactly how the movie opens (Sulu aboard the U.S.S. Excelsior), and how it ends (the Enterprise is ordered back to space dock to be docommissioned), spoiling the major events of the story in between.
Today, there’s no way they would do this. I’ve noticed that junior novelizations of Marvel movies simply end before the conclusion of the story. Apparently because of the internet, the people that make movies today are more paranoid about spoilers getting out early than filmmakers were 20 years ago. Starlog knew that no “spoilers” could ruin the experience of seeing the completed movie for the first time.
These magazines fed into my hype surrounding the movies they were promoting. They were a nice collectible from movies that didn’t get much attention otherwise. In addition to Sci-Fi movies, Starlogs’ sister publication, Fangoria, did a lot of horror movie magazines, such as Freddy’s Dead, Jason Goes to Hell, and even The Island of Dr. Moreau! Back in the day, there weren’t “adult collectibles”, so the magazines were one of the few ways to merchandize the movies.
Since the 90s, movie magazines have become less common. With Starlog going out of business, there are fewer genre publishers interested in producting them. The only ones to survive are Disney doing the occasional Marvel one, and Titan Magazines doing the occasional sci-fi movie one. Titan Magazines does have a montly Star Trek magazine, so we’ll see what they do next year when the newest movie comes out in time for the 50th Anniversary (!!), hopefully the tradition will continue.