Ceti Alpha V

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is the second feature film based on the Star Trek science fiction television series, following 1979s Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The film is a sequel to the original TV series episode "Space Seed", with Ricardo Montalbán reprising his role as the genetically-engineered tyrant Khan. When Khan returns from a fifteen-year exile to enact revenge on his nemesis, James T. Kirk, the crew of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise must stop Khan from acquiring a powerful but unstable terraforming device. The events of Wrath of Khan begin a story arc that concludes in the fourth feature film.

After the lackluster critical and commercial response to The Motion Picture, series creator Gene Roddenberry was forced out of the sequel's production. Executive producer Harve Bennett wrote the original outline for the film, which Jack B. Sowards developed into a full script. Nicholas Meyer was made director after writing a final script for the film in twelve days, without accepting a writing credit; Meyer's style would evoke the swashbuckling atmosphere of the original series, reinforced by James Horner's musical score. Production used various cost-cutting techniques such as using old miniatures from past movies. Among the technical achievements of the film is the first film sequence created entirely by computer graphics. The character of Spock was intended to be killed off permanently in the film, the only reason actor Leonard Nimoy reprised his role; negative audience reaction to the character's death led to significant revisions of the film's ending without Meyer's consent, allowing the possible return of the character in later movies.

Upon release, The Wrath of Khan was a box office success, earning over $70 million in the United States and setting a world record for first-day gross. Critical reaction to the film was positive, with reviewers highlighting Khan and the film's pacing as strong elements. Dissenting reviewers, such as the Washington Post, called the special effects outdated and the cast geriatric. The film is now considered one of the best films of the franchise, and is credited with bringing renewed interest in Star Trek.


The film opens with a female Vulcan in command of the USS Enterprise, attempting to rescue a stranded ship in the Neutral Zone. The Enterprise is attacked by Klingon cruisers, and is critically damaged. The "attack" is revealed to be an exercise known as the "Kobayashi Maru", a no-win situation designed to test the character of Starfleet officers. The Vulcan is Captain Spock’s protégée, Lieutenant Saavik. Admiral James T. Kirk oversees the training session externally.

Meanwhile, the USS Reliant is on a mission to search for a lifeless planet for testing of "Project Genesis", a device which reorganizes molecular matter in order to create hospitable worlds for colonization. Reliant officers Pavel Chekov and Clark Terrell beam to the surface of a possible candidate, Ceti Alpha VI, and are captured by Khan Noonien Singh. Khan and his fellow genetically-advanced supermen were once rulers on Earth in the late 20th century, but were exiled to space in a sleeper ship. After a foiled attempt to capture the Enterprise, Kirk exiled Khan and his followers to Ceti Alpha V to build a new civilization. Soon after being left by the Enterprise, Ceti Alpha VI exploded, destroying Ceti Alpha V's ecosystem and shifting its orbit. Khan blames Kirk for the deaths of his wife and followers and their harsh life, and plans to revenge his people. Using mind-controlling Ceti eels which crawl into the ears of their victims, Khan manipulates Chekov and Terrell and hijacks the Reliant.

The Enterprise embarks on a training voyage under the command of Captain Spock, while Kirk conducts an inspection. The Enterprise receives a message from Space Station Regula I, a remote science laboratory where Kirk's former lover, Dr. Carol Marcus, and son, Dr. David Marcus, have been developing the Genesis Device. Informing Starfleet Command of the situation, the Enterprise is ordered to investigate; since the ship is now on an active-duty mission, Kirk assumes command. En route, Khan attacks and cripples the Enterprise, killing many of the ship's trainees. A transmission between the two ships reveals Khan knows of the Genesis device; determined to stop Khan from gaining such a potent weapon, Kirk stalls for time and disables the Reliants defenses by use of a special prefix code and counterattacks. With his own ship badly damaged, Khan is forced to retreat.

The Enterprise makes its way to Regula I, where they find most of the Genesis team dead. The remaining scientists, including Carol and David, have hidden deep inside the planetoid of Regula itself. Using Chekov and Terrell as spies, Khan steals the Genesis Device. When Khan orders Terrell to kill Kirk, the eels' influence wanes; Terrell kills himself while Chekov overcomes the parasite's control. Kirk and Spock arrange a rendezvous in code, and upon boarding the Enterprise pilot the ship into the nearby Mutara nebula, which will interfere with both ships' defenses and weapons. Despite the advice of his lieutenants, Khan pursues.

Blinded by the nebula, both starships attempt to outmaneuver the other; Kirk uses Khan's inexperience in three-dimensional combat to critically disable the Reliant. Khan, mortally wounded, activates the Genesis Device, which will reorganize all the matter within the nebula—including the Enterprise. Though Kirk's crew detects the activation of the Genesis Device and begins to lumber away using impulse engines, with the warp drive damaged they will not be able to escape the nebula in time. Spock goes to Engineering to restore warp drive; when McCoy tries to prevent him from exposing himself to high levels of radiation, Spock disables the doctor and performs a mind meld, telling McCoy to "remember". Spock restores power, allowing the Enterprise to escape the explosion. Kirk arrives in Engineering just as Spock succumbs to radiation poisoning.

A space burial is held in the Enterprises torpedo room, and Spock's coffin is shot into orbit around the newly formed Genesis planet. Kirk and David make peace, and the crew leaves the planet reminiscing about Spock. In the final scene the coffin is seen to have soft-landed on the planet as Spock narrates Star Treks "Where no man has gone before" monologue.


William Shatner as James T. Kirk

A Starfleet Admiral and former commander of the Enterprise. Shatner and his film nemesis, Khan Noonien Singh, were never actually face-to-face at any point during the film; all of their interactions are over a viewscreen or through communicators, due in part to the fact that the same set served as the bridge for the Reliant and Enterprise; the two actors' scenes were filmed four months apart. Meyer described Shatner as an actor who was naturally protective of his character and himself, and who performed better over multiple takes.Ricardo Montalbán as Khan Noonien Singh

Montalbán stated in promotional interviews for the film that he believed all good villains do villainous things, but still believe that they are acting for the "right" reasons; Khan's anger at the death of his wife justifies his pursuit of Kirk. Meyer made it clear in film commentary that despite speculation that Montalbán used a prosthetic chest, no artificial devices were added to Montalbán's muscular physique, which the costume department took into consideration in designing Khan's outfit. Montalbán thoroughly enjoyed making the film, counting the role as a career highlight. His major complaint was that he was never face-to-face with Shatner for a scene. "I had to do my lines with the script girl, who, as you might imagine, sounded nothing like Bill [Shatner]," he explained. Bennett noted that the film was close to getting the green light when it occurred to the producers that no one had asked Montalbán if he could take a break from Fantasy Island to take part in the movie.Leonard Nimoy as Spock

The Captain of the Enterprise, who gives control of the ship to Kirk after Starfleet sends the ship to Regula I. Nimoy had not originally intended to have a role in The Motion Pictures sequel, but was enticed back on the promise that his character would be given a dramatic death scene. According to Nimoy, he reasoned that since he believed The Wrath of Khan would be the final Star Trek film, having Spock "go out in a blaze of glory" seemed like a good way to end the character.DeForest Kelley as Leonard McCoy
The Enterprises doctor and a close friend of both Kirk and Spock. Kelley looked over an early version of the Wrath of Khan script and was dissatisfied to the point that he considered not being in the film. Kelley noted in an interview that he spoke many of the film's lighter lines, and felt that this role was essential to bring a lighter side to the onscreen drama.James Doohan as Montgomery Scott

The Enterprises chief engineer. During Spock's death scene in the film, Kelley felt that him speaking his catchphrase "He's dead, Jim" would crack up the audience and ruin the moment. Doohan says the line "He's dead already" to Kirk instead. In the film, Scott loses his young nephew due to Khan's attacks on the Enterprise. The cadet, played by Ike Eisenmann, had many of his lines cut in the original theatrical release of the film, including Doohan's dialogue that explained he was Scott's relative. These scenes were readded in home video releases, making Scott's grief at the crewman's death more understandable.George Takei as Hikaru Sulu:
The helm officer of the Enterprise. Takei had not wanted to reprise his role for The Wrath of Khan. Shatner called the actor on the phone and persuaded him to return.Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov

The Reliants first officer and a former member of the Enterprises crew. During filming, Kelley noted that Chekov never actually met Khan in "Space Seed" (Koenig had not joined the cast), and thus Khan recognizing Chekov on Ceti Alpha as in the script did not make sense. Star Trek books have tried to rationalize this discrepancy; in the film's novelization by Vonda N. McIntyre, Chekov is "an ensign assigned to the night watch" during "Space Seed" and thus met Khan in an off-screen scene. The non-canonical novel To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh by Greg Cox explains the discrepancy by having Chekov escort Khan to the surface of Ceti Alpha after the events of "Space Seed". The real cause of the error was a simple oversight by the filmmakers. Meyer justifies the mistake in audio commentary by noting that Arthur Conan Doyle made similar oversights in his Sherlock Holmes stories. Chekov's screaming while being infested by the Ceti eel in the film lead Koenig to jokingly dub the film Star Trek II: Chekov Screams Again, in reference to how Chekov had screamed during The Motion Picture.Nichelle Nichols as Uhura
The Enterprises communications officer. In her autobiography, Beyond Uhura, Nichols noted that she advocated on Gene Roddenberry's behalf to the producers over elements of the film, including the naval references and militaristic uniforms. Nichols also defended Roddenberry when the producers believed he was the source of script leaks.Bibi Besch as Carol Marcus.
The mother of Kirk's son, Marcus is the lead scientist working on Project Genesis. Meyer was looking for an actor who looked beautiful enough that it was plausible a wandering womanizer such as Kirk would fall for her, yet could also project a sense of intelligence.Merritt Butrick as David Marcus:
Kirk's son, who has grown up to be a scientist like his mother. Meyer said that what he physically liked about Butrick was that his hair was blond like Besch's and curly like Shatner's, making him a plausible son of the two.Paul Winfield as Clark Terrell
The captain of the Reliant. Meyer had seen Winfield's work in films such as Sounder and thought highly of him; there was no reason for casting him as the Reliants captain other than Meyer's desire to direct him in scenes. Though upon reflection Meyer thought that the ceti eel scene might have been corny, he felt that Winfield's acting helped add gravity.Kirstie Alley as Saavik
Spock's protege and a Starfleet officer-in-training aboard the Enterprise, the film was Alley's first feature film role. During Spock's funeral, Saavik tears up and cries. Meyer remembers during filming someone asked him, "'Are you going to let her do that?' And I said, 'Yeah', and they said, 'But Vulcans don't cry,' and I said, 'Well, that's what makes this such an interesting Vulcan.'" The character's emotional outbursts can be partly explained by the fact that Saavik was described as of mixed Vulcan-Romulan heritage in the script, though no indication is given on film.Alley was so fond of her Vulcan ears that she would take them home with her after filming.Judson Scott as Joachim
Khan's chief henchman. Scott had several speaking lines with Montalbán, but was uncredited. According to TV Guide, this was because Scott's agent tried to negotiate top billing; Scott wound up with more money but no credit.



After the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, executive producer Gene Roddenberry wrote his own sequel to the film, involving a plot he had presented before in which the crew of the Enterprise travel back through time to assassinate John F. Kennedy and set a corrupted time line right. This sequel was turned down by Paramount executives, who blamed the poor performance and inflated budget ($46 million) of the first movie on the constant rewrites demanded by Roddenberry and the movie's plodding pace. As a consequence, Roddenberry was ultimately removed from the production and according to Shatner, "kicked upstairs" to the ceremonial position of "executive consultant". Harve Bennett, a new Paramount television producer, was made producer for the next Star Trek film. According to Bennett, he was called in front of a group including Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Eisner and asked if he thought he could make a better movie than The Motion Picture. When Bennett replied in the affirmative, Charles Bluhdorn asked, "Can you make it for less than forty-five-fucking-million-dollars?" Bennett replied that "Where I come from, I can make five movies for that."

Bennett realized he faced a serious challenge in developing the new Star Trek movie, including the fact that he had never seen the show. To compensate, Bennett watched all the original episodes. This immersion convinced Bennett that what the first movie lacked was a real villain; after seeing the episode "Space Seed", he decided that the character of Khan Noonien Singh was the perfect enemy for the film.

Bennett wrote his first film treatment in November 1980. In his version, titled Star Trek II: The War of the Generations, Kirk investigates a rebellion on a distant world and discovers that his son is the leader of the rebels. Khan is in fact the mastermind behind the plot, and Kirk and son join forces to defeat the tyrant. Bennett then hired Jack B. Sowards, an avid Star Trek fan, to turn his outline into a filmable script. Sowards wrote an initial script before a writer's strike in 1981. Sowards' draft, The Omega Syndrome, involved the theft of the Federation's ultimate weapon, called the "Omega system". Sowards was concerned that his weapon had nothing uplifting about it, so the art director Michael Minor suggested the device be turned into a terraforming tool instead; in recognition of the Biblical power of the weapon, Sowards renamed the "Omega system" to the "Genesis device". By April Sowards had produced another draft which moved Spock's death to later in the story and introduced a male character named 'Savik'. As preproduction of the film began in earnest, Samuel A. Peeples, writer of the Star Trek episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before", was called in to offer his own script, but the resulting draft (which entirely omitted Khan) was judged insufficient. With deadlines looming for the special effects production to begin(which required detailed storyboards based on a finished script), director Nicholas Meyer and Bennett pooled the written drafts. Meyer contributed his own screenplay written in twelve days which he described as "'Hornblower' in outer space", utilizing nautical references and a swashbuckling feel. Despite Roddenberry's disagreements with Meyer's naval texture or Khan's Captain Ahab undertones (see Themes), production of the film began in fall 1981.


Meyer said that he did everything within budget to change the look of Star Trek in order to create a nautical atmosphere. The Enterprise, for example, was given a ship's bell and a boatswain's call. To save money on set design, production designer Joseph Jennings utilized existing elements from The Motion Picture, which had been left standing after filming was completed. Nearly 65% of the film was shot on the same set, as the bridge of the Reliant and the "bridge simulator" from the opening scene were simply redresses of the Enterprises bridge. Star Trek II reused models and footage from the first Star Trek film to stretch the film's budget, including shortened versions of the same shots of the docked Enterprise at the beginning of The Motion Picture. The original ship miniatures were used when possible, or else modified to stand in as a new construction. The orbital office complex from The Motion Picture, for example, was inverted and retouched to become the Regula I space station. Elements of the cancelled Star Trek: Phase II TV show, such as bulkheads, railings, and sets were also cannibalized for the film. A major concern for the designers was that the Reliant be easily distinguishable from the Enterprise. The ship's design was flipped after Bennett accidentally opened and approved the preliminary Reliant designs upside-down.

Meyer utilized camera and set tricks to spare the construction of large sets. For a scene taking place at Starfleet Academy, scenery was placed close to the camera to give the sense the set was larger than it really was using forced perspective. To give the illusion that the Enterprises elevators moved between decks, corridor pieces were wheeled around to change the hall configuration while the lift doors were closed.

Producer Robert Sallin wanted the uniforms from The Motion Picture changed, but did not want to discard the jumpsuits entirely for budgetary reasons. Dye tests of the fabric showed that the old uniforms took three colors well: a blue-gray, a gold, and a dark red. Costume designer Robert Fletcher decided to use the dark red due to the strong contrast it provided with the background to create The Wrath of Khans naval-inspired uniforms, which would be used in the films until 1994s Star Trek Generations. The first versions of the uniforms had stiff black collars, but Sallin suggests changing it to a turtleneck, using a form of vertical quilting called trapunto. By the time of The Wrath of Khans production, the machines and needles needed to produce trapunto were rare, and Fletcher was able to find only one needle for the wardrobe department. The crew was so worried about losing or breaking the needle that one of the department's workers took it home with him as a security measure, leading Fletcher think it had been stolen.

For Khan and his fellow supermen, Fletcher created a strong contrast with the highly organized Starfleet uniforms; his idea was that the exiles' costumes were made out of whatever they could find. "My intention with Khan was to express the fact that they had been marooned on that planet with no technical infrastructure, so they had to cannibalize from the spaceship whatever they used or wore. Therefore, I tried to make it look as if they had dressed themselves out of pieces of upholstery and electrical equipment that composed the ship," Fletcher said. Khan's costume was specially designed with an open chest to show Ricardo Montalbán's physique. Fletcher also designed smocks for the Regula I scientists and civilian clothes for Kirk and McCoy, designed to look practical and comfortable.


The Wrath of Khan was much more action-oriented than its predecessor, but was much less costly to make, with a modest special effects budget and TV production schedule. The project was supervised not by Paramount's theatrical division, but by its television unit, and produced by Bennett, a respected TV veteran, at a budget of US$11,000,000—far less than The Motion Pictures $46 million cost.

Spock's death was shot over three days; during that time, no visitors were allowed on set. The initial scripts called for Spock's death to have been early in the movie, but fan reaction led to the event's movement to the climax of the film. Shatner disagreed with the clear glass separation between Spock and Kirk during the death scene, instead wanting a translucent divider allowing viewers to only see Spock's silhouette; his complaint was overruled. During Spock's funeral sequence Meyer wanted the camera to track the torpedo that served as Spock's coffin as it was placed in a long trough and slid into the launcher. Initially the camera crew thought the entire set would have to be rebuilt in order to accommodate the shot, but Sallin suggested putting a dolly into the trough and controlling it from above with an offset arm. Scott plays \"Amazing Grace\" on the bagpipes during the scene, which was James Doohan's idea.

Spock's death was to remain irrevocable, but Nimoy had such a positive experience during filming that he asked if he could add a way for Spock to return in a later film. The \"remember\" sequence was initially filmed without Kelley's prior knowledge of what was going on. Test audiences at screenings of the film reacted badly to Spock's death and the film's ending (the tone of which was dark and final), so Bennett modified the ending. The scene of Spock's casket soft-landed on the planet and Nimoy's closing monologue were added to positive response; Meyer objected to the changes, but did not stand in the way of the modifications.


The Wrath of Khans special effects were created by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), George Lucas' effects house. ILM also created the new models for the film; the Reliant was the first non-Constitution-class Federation starship seen in the series. Due to budget and time constraints, the effects team sought to simplify the complicated effects of The Motion Picture. As the script called for the Reliant and Enterprise to inflict significant damage on each other, ILM developed techniques to illustrate the damage without physically harming the models. Rather than move the models on a bluescreen during shooting, the Vistavision camera was panned and tracked to give the illusion of movement. Damage to the Enterprise was cosmetic, and simulated with pieces of aluminum that were colored or peeled off. Phaser damage was simulated using stop motion. The script called for large-scale damage to the Reliant, so larger versions of the ship's model were created to be blown up.

The battle in the nebula was a difficult sequence to accomplish without the aid of computer-generated models. The nebula was filmed first, using a saltwater and freshwater mixture inside a specially-lit cloud tank to generate the nebula. All the footage was shot at two frames per second to give the illusion of faster movement. Using matte work, the ships were physically stuck on a background plate to complete the shot. The destruction of the Reliants engine nacelle was created by superimposing shots of the engine blowing apart and explosions over the actual model. The Ceti eel shoots used several different models, which were overseen by Special Effects Supervisor Ken Ralston. Ralston had finished creature design for Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and used a string tied to the eel in order to inch the model across the actors' faces before entering the ear canal. Footage which used a giant model of Koenig's ear was discarded from the theatrical release due to the visceral reaction it elicited in viewers.

Among ILM's technical achievements for The Wrath of Khan was cinema's first entirely computer-generated sequence, demonstrating the effects of the Genesis Device on a barren planet. The first concept the animators discussed was turning a rock into a flower, but after poor feedback the artists decided on a planet flyby. The programmers spent a significant amount of time and detail on the sixty-second sequence; one artist ensured that the stars visible in the background matched those visible from a real star light-years from Earth. The animators hoped it would serve as a "commercial" for the studio's talents.


James Horner was hired to score The Wrath of Khan and compose music evocative of seafaring and swashbuckling. The Washington Post described the style as "echoing both the bombastic and elegiac elements of John Williams' Star Wars and Jerry Goldsmith's original Star Trek scores." The soundtrack was Horner's first major film score, and was recorded with a 88-piece orchestra. Horner used synthesizers for ancillary effects; at the time, science-fiction films such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and The Thing were eschewing the synthesizer in favor of more traditional orchestras.


The Wrath of Khan features several recurring themes, including death, resurrection, and growing old. Upon writing his own version of the script, Meyer hit upon a link between Spock's death and the age of the characters:
This was going to be a story in which Spock died, so it was going to be a story about death, and it was only a short hop, skip, and a jump to realize that it was going to be about old age and friendship. I don't think that any of those other scripts were about old age, friendship, and death.
In keeping with the theme of death and rebirth symbolized by Spock's sacrifice and the Genesis device, Meyer wanted to call the film The Undiscovered Country, in reference to Prince Hamlet's description of death in William Shakespeare's Hamlet, but the title was changed without the director's knowledge during editing. According to a Extrapolation article by Lane Roth, Spock is Kirk's doppelgänger, and Spock's sacrifice at the end of the film allows a spiritual rebirth of Kirk; after commenting earlier in the film that he feels old and worn out, Kirk states in the final scene of the film that "I feel young. Spock's death also forces Kirk to confront death, after continually cheating it throughout the movie. Sight and sound reinforce the themes of death and aging, as well as the promise of rebirth; Spock is the first character seen in the film and his voice is the last heard in the film, and his coffin follows the same trajectory towards the new planet as the Genesis device does in a video-lecture earlier in the film.

Meyer added elements to reinforce the aging of the characters. Kirk is unhappy about his birthday, compounded by McCoy's present of reading glasses for Kirk's eyes. The script for the film stated that by the events of the film Kirk was 49, but Shatner was unsure about being specific about Kirk's age. Harve Bennett remembers that Shatner was hesitant about portraying a middle-aged version of himself, and believed that with proper makeup he could continue playing a younger Kirk. Bennett convinced Shatner that he could age gracefully like Spencer Tracy; unbeknownst to the producer, Shatner had been the aide for Tracy years earlier in Judgment at Nuremberg, and was very fond of the actor. Meyer made sure to emphasize Kirk's parallel to Sherlock Holmes in that both characters waste away in the absence of their stimuli; new cases, in Holmes' case, and starship adventures in Kirk's.

Khan's pursuit of Kirk is central to the film's theme of vengeance, and the film purposefully heavily borrows elements from Herman Melville's Moby Dick. To make the parallels clear to viewers, Meyer added a visible copy of Moby Dick to Khan's dwelling. Kirk represents both the restless elements of Ishmael as well as serving as the titular white whale. Khan's blind pursuit of Kirk mirrors Captain Ahab's obsession with Moby Dick. Both pursue their quarry against the better judgement of their crew, and both end up killing themselves in an effort to take their foe with them. University of Northern Colorado professor Jane Wall Hinds argues that the themes of The Wrath of Khan clash with the optimistic and transcendentalist perspectives found in the shows such as The Original Series and The Next Generation. The themes of revenge as explored in Moby Dick would later heavily influence Star Trek: First Contact.

Release and reception

Critical response

Star Trek II grossed $78,912,963 in the U.S. for a total of $97,000,000 worldwide. Although the total gross of Wrath of Khan was less than The Motion Picture, it was more profitable due to its lower cost of production. The film earned $14,347,221 in its opening weekend at the US box office, at the time the largest opening weekend gross in history. The film's novelization, written by Vonda N. McIntyre, stayed on the New York Times paperback bestsellers list for more than three weeks.

Critical response to The Wrath of Khan was positive. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a "fresh" rating, with 92% of featured critics giving the film a favorable review; The Wrath of Khan is the highest rated Star Trek film on the site. After the lukewarm response to the first feature film, Trek fan response to The Wrath of Khan was highly positive, crediting the film's success as bringing renewed interest to the franchise. Entertainment Weekly went further, calling The Wrath of Khan "the film that, by most accounts, saved Star Trek as we know it.

A near-universal note of praise was for the film's pacing, which was much swifter than its predecessor and closer to the TV series. Janet Maslin of The New York Times also credited the film with a stronger story than The Motion Picture and stated the sequel was everything the first film should have been. Variety agreed that The Wrath of Khan was closer to the original spirit of Star Trek than its predecessor. Strong character interaction was cited as a strong feature of the film, as was Montalbán's portrayal of Khan.

Complaints about the film focused on what was seen as tepid battle sequences, and perceived melodrama. While many publications felt that Spock's death was dramatic and well-handled, The Washington Posts Gary Arnold stated Spock's death "feels like an unnecessary twist, and the filmmakers are obviously well-prepared to fudge in case the public demands another sequel." Negative reviews of the film also focused on the acting of the aged stars.

The film has had an impact on other movies. Meyer's rejected title for the film, The Undiscovered Country, would later be used for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, retaining the nautical influences. Director Bryan Singer has cited the film as an influence on X2, as well as his abandoned sequel to Superman Returns. The film is also a favorite of director J. J. Abrams, producer Damon Lindelof and writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the creative crew of the relaunch film Star Trek.

Home video

Paramount released The Wrath of Khan on VHS in 1983. Unlike contemporary releases, Paramount sold the VHS for $39.95, more than $40 below other movie cassette prices. The movie's release was credited with more competitive VHS pricing, and an increase in the adoption of increasingly cheaper VHS players.

Paramount released The Wrath of Khan on DVD in 2000; no special features were included on the disc. Montalbán drew hundreds of fans of the film to Universal City, California where he signed copies of the DVD to commemorate its release. In August 2002, the film was rereleased as a highly anticipated two-disc "Director's Edition" format. In addition to remastered picture quality and 5.1 Dolby surround sound, the second DVD contained extras including director commentary, cast interviews, storyboards and the theatrical trailer. The expanded cut of the film was given a Hollywood premiere before the release of the DVD. In a speech, Meyer spoke about directors' cuts of films, stating that he didn't believe they were necessarily better than the original but that the rerelease gave him a chance to add in elements which had been removed from the theatrical release by Paramount. The four hours of bonus content and expanded director's cut of the movie were favorably received.



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