Despite performing relatively well, 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture almost killed the franchise for good. It was too expensive and too inert for Paramount's liking ... but the studio was willing to roll the dice on Gene Roddenberry's creation one more time. And everything was riding on The Wrath of Khan's success.
Of course, no one making Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan—which opened June 4, 1982—realized precisely what "everything" would eventually entail. Writer-director Nicholas Meyer and producer Harve Bennett—picking up the slack left after Roddenberry was forced out of the production—simply wanted to make a good (and cheaper) movie, digging back into the original series' lore to find a worthy villain and a viable conflict. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley and the rest of the cast just wanted to play the characters they loved.
There's no way they could've known that without Star Trek II serving as the film series' high-water mark—creatively and commercially—there never would've been a Star Trek III through VI. There never would've been such popular love for the franchise that it would've made its way back to TV with Star Trek: The Next Generation. And without The Next Generation, there's no Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise.
In a very real way, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is the keystone that makes the entire Star Trek franchise as we know it possible, from the toys to the J.J. Abrams reboot.
So, hey, when you're done with your day, why not pour yourself a frosty O'Doul's—the 21st-century equivalent of synthehol—pop in The Wrath of Khan and raise a glass to Ricardo Montalban's preposterously muscled chest and the final frontier?