Damian Dovarganes  /  AP
You've seen them: Star Wars fans waiting for the latest movie's opening night months in advance, or Star Trek convention geeks dressed in polyester suits talking about the space time continuum. But which giant franchise has the upper hand? Forbes.com weighs in.
updated 5/18/2005 4:40:59 PM ET 2005-05-18T20:40:59

It's a rivalry more fevered than any other in the universe. Harvard versus Yale? Coke versus Pepsi? Red Sox versus Yankees? All child's play. The real battle royale, the one that really inspires fanatical fandom, is between Star Wars and Star Trek, the titans of science fiction.

To their fans, these entertainment franchises aren't just something you watch on a TV or movie screen. They're a way of life, a philosophy, an obsession. From the huddled masses lining up outside theaters months before a movie opening, to the convention centers filled with adults in polyester jump suits, nothing inspires the fervent fandom of these, the galaxy's greatest space epics.

It's a rivalry frequently played out by fans who love to argue about hypothetical skirmishes. Who would win a fight: Captain Kirk or Han Solo? Could the Enterprise defeat a Star Destroyer? What about the Death Star versus a Borg Cube?

But this rivalry isn't just an imaginary one. Each franchise is a multibillion-dollar business, a decades-old entertainment brand that brings in huge revenue for everyone involved: movie studios, snack food manufacturers, toy makers and more. Both properties fight like Vulcans in Pon farr — or like Luke Skywalker in a Rancor pit, if you prefer — for the minds and wallets of sci-fi fans.

And the competition is more heated now than ever. On Friday, May 13, the final episode of “Star Trek: Enterprise” aired on the UPN network. For the first time in 18 years, there will be no new “Star Trek” series on TV. And on May 19, the “Star Wars” films will come to their own conclusion with the release of “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.” Both franchises are making a big bid to capture business before they go, at least temporarily, into hibernation.

So shields up, lock on phasers — and may the Force be with you. We're about to boldly go to a galaxy far, far away and match up two cosmic competitors.

© 2012 Forbes.com


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