Yesterday, Paramount released its newest movie trailer for Star Trek: Into Darkness on iTunes. As the second film in JJ Abrams’ re-imagining of Gene Roddenberry’s original franchise, fans have been speculating wildly about whether Abrams would retell Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan or explore a different aspect of the mythos through the film’s villain, John Harrison (played by Benedict Cumberbatch). Now, fans have a new question to speculate wildly about: are you the 1701?
As the camera zooms in on John Harrison at the 1:07 mark on the trailer, a display panel shows the website AreYouthe1701.com, a website featuring a simple registration page in grayscale.
JJ Abrams’ first Star Trek film was prefaced with Alert Vulcan, an intensely immersive alternate reality game that started similarly, with a website hidden in promotional photographs from a Star Trek event in Paris. The game eventually included a staged Romulan crash site in the UK, a crime scene with green blood, and a personal YouTube video from Leonard Nimoy thanking the most active players for their help.
Most of JJ Abrams’ projects find life outside the television screen or cinema. with this new Star Trek viral finding its place in a long line of puzzles, cross-references, and alternate reality games tracing back to the Alias Web Puzzle in 2001. It’s too soon to tell what form this particular iteration will take, but it’s the perfect time to decide: are you the 1701?
The most recent Star Trek movie has been a rousing success, earning $76.5 million on opening weekend. And like many projects involving JJ Abrams, Star Trek was promoted using an alternate reality game, Alert Vulcan. While the game has wrapped up, one fan has created a video summarizing the experience, and five lucky players are still receiving rewards for their contributions in the mail.
Back in April, Hollywood party blogger The Cobra Snake posted a series of Star Trek mixers in Hollywood and Paris. Hidden in the background of some pictures were barely discernable text strings that led players to a distorted video of the Narada, Captain Nero’s Romulan vessel in the film. Further code lead to a chat log of five Romulans conversing in English, French, Spanish, Japanese, and German.
One of them left an item in France, which was recovered by “Malako.” Following a series of clues, players uncovered a staged Romulan crash site with Romulan symbols visible from the air. They also gained the ability to manipulate a digital hologram of a starfield via webcam by going to johannbayer.eu, entering the code U04C5NMD413, and printing out the background image, using a system similar to the Experience the Enterprise viral.
Eventually, players received phone calls explaining the situation: two sets of Romulans crash landed on Earth, with one group attempting to help Captain Nero destroy Earth, and the other group attepting to prevent it. By recreating a transmission at AlertVulcan.comand reposting the file across the internet, players were able to prevent the end of the world.
Capping off the alternate reality game, Leonard Nimoy personally congratulated the participants on YouTube, five players in particular. Matt was selected to receive a replica of the USS Enterprise, while the other four top contributors received a collection of Star Trek related products pictured here and here.
Special thanks to ellisrico for putting together a great video summary of the game.
Producer/Director JJ Abrams is on a viral rampage this year, it seems. Hot on the tail of Cloverfield’s big screen debute, was the premiere of the initial teaser trailer for the 11th installment in the Star Trek film franchise. Reportedly, the movie will carry only the name “Star Trek”, as it returns to the academy days of our beloved Enterprise crew. The teaser can be seen on the official website. But as beautiful as it is, that is not the reason for this article.
If you navigate to the official website, scroll down to the “Under Construction” label. See the little red dot beside it? Click it. Yes, you’ve just found another viral website. JJ is known for tying common threads between his creative productions – his unique drink Slusho! being the most prominent example. Slusho has made cameo appearances in Alias, Heroes, and Kenan and Kel. But recently he’s taken a liking to extending his works beyond their base medium, into the internet world, and the real world.
If you’re familiar with the TV show Lost (also an Abrams production), there was a very well received extended reality called The Lost Experience which ran along the TV show. Currently leading up to the North American airing of season 4 is another campaign called Find 815. You’ve been living under a rock if you haven’t heard of the viral campaign surrounding the months leading up to the premiere of Cloverfield (which also, by the way, has a backstory around the development of the Slusho drink and its secret ingredient Seabed’s Nectar).
So the question is, will Abrams be providing another extended experience or alternate reality game related to the Star Trek franchise leading up to the movie’s release? Or will this turn out just to be another typical viral marketing campaign? Personally, I would love to see a Slusho! cameo appearance in the movie. Imagine: Kirk and Spock order a Slusho from a bar at the Academy. And Guinan serves it to them.
At the very least, we have a new website – a relatively covert website, which seems to be showing ‘streaming video’ from the construction site of the Enterprise NCC-1701. What will the days ahead reveal to us? We have nearly a whole year to find out. JJ knows how to bait and taunt his target market, so expect a lot of mystery and viral advertising.
Live long, and drink Slusho.
Comic-Con 2007 has arrived, and our roving reporter Celina Beach is at the event, ready for the action to start. This year’s event includes attendees many alternate reality gaming fans will be keeping tabs on, including J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse of the hit TV show Lost. If you remember, it was this time last year when Rachel Blake, a character in The Lost Experience, confronted panel members about their involvement with the Hanso Foundation. We don’t expect the same sort of large-scale ARG event to take place with this year’s Lost, but you never know.
Abrams will be serving double duty at the Con, as he will also be discussing the upcoming movie Star Trek movie. However, there are rumblings across the blogosphere that he will shed a little light into the 1-18-08 mystery that began with a pre-roll movie trailer earlier this month.
With Celina blogging and Tweeting from the event, we will have up-to-the-minute coverage if any ARG-related news breaks through the course of the next few days, so bookmark ARGNet and check back regularly.