Star Trek: The Tour

The five-year voyage of the Starship Enterprise marks its 40th anniversary this year, and a touring exhibit of some of most iconic artifacts and sets from “Star Trek” will visit new markets, to boldly go into 40 cities where no such tour has gone before.

“Star Trek: The Celebration” is a 30,000-square-foot “traveling theme park,” SEE Touring Productions President Martin Biallas told Pollstar.

The fully licensed exhibit will stop in some 40 cities for a month at a time with original set pieces, costumes and interactive exhibits that are sure to please even the most discerning Trekkie. The tour is expected to launch in Long Beach, Calif., in November.

Included in the exhibit are the original USS Enterprise bridge from the 1960s TV show as well as Captain Kirk’s chair, original costumes and props from the entire “Star Trek” television and film franchise spanning the four decades, and even a virtual reality space battle.

Fans are treated to full-motion simulator rides depicting a Borg attack, a museum, trivia games, a chance to be “beamed” from a transporter bay, dine in the Starfleet mess hall, quaff a Romulan Ale in Quark’s Bar and, of course, buy lots of memorabilia and other merchandise.

The formula has already been road-tested in the international market. But Biallas knows the “Star Trek” fandom mother lode is in America.

“We toured this in Asia and Europe the last few years, but to us it was always considered a test run for the ultimate market, which is the U.S.,” Biallas said of the build-up to the American tour, which he is in the process of selling to promoters.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the success this so-called test run had, especially in Europe. We had anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 per venue for an average four- to eight-week run.

“In London, especially, where we had to deal with winter weather and a temporary structure we put up in Hyde Park, even with all those problems the franchise still attracted more than 100,000 people. That was overshadowed by the financial difficulties that the local promoter had before we even made the deal, but it was very successful,” Biallas said.

Successful enough to create optimism for a five-year run of major American markets and arenas, with an option for another five years – potentially taking the 40th anniversary party into “Star Trek’s” 50th year.

“If this is as successful as we think it will be, we will add to those venues,” Biallas said, comparing the traveling show to a museum exhibition such as the recent King Tut tour. But it promises to be much more fun.

“This franchise has been going for 40 years, and it will go for at least another five to 10. There’s another movie coming out in a couple of years. We have things to celebrate for several years to come.”

The music industry vet said that he expects to name a promoter in coming weeks. Though he would not confirm who he was negotiating with, it’s believed that heavy hitters like Live Nation, AEG Live and John Scher’s Metropolitan Talent Presents are in the running.

“We are negotiating with several entities,” Biallas said. “There are several different proposals on the table. The one I like the most is where a promoter will take a lead but coordinate among local promoters. Besides a certain guarantee, we will then negotiate a certain percentage split, like we did with the other cities in Europe. There will be a mix.”

In addition to Long Beach, other cities on the tour’s itinerary include Seattle, Denver, Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Boston, New York, Atlanta, Houston, San Diego and Las Vegas.

Just getting the exhibit from city to city will be an effort in itself. Though it’s been scaled down to 35,000 square feet in a four-week run, it still requires 15 days to strike, transport its 100 tons in 40 containers, and set back up in a new city. Stops are no more than 500 miles apart. The permanent crew of five are backed up by local electricians, engineers and stage hands provided by local promoters, according to Biallas.

Once “Star Trek: The Celebration” hits town, though, fans can expect to rub elbows with some of the stars from the series and films, including William Shatner, who is a very big supporter of the tour, according to Biallas.

Among non-“Star Trek” stars who have been spotted at the London exhibition were Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon and Bijou Phillips, who tried out the transporters and what’s called “visual ops.”

“Yoko and Sean just happened to visit. She’s a big Star Trek fan,” Biallas said. “We introduced an attraction called video ops, where we have people read dialogue for a couple of minutes, and we actually edit it into an episode of the original series so that people can take home a DVD.

“You can stand on the bridge, talking to Kirk and Spock, and Yoko did that,” Biallas said, laughing. “Acting probably isn’t her forte, but she had fun.”

– Deborah Speer