The world of Stargate fandom let out a gasp today with the announcement that Stargate Atlantis
will end this season, and yet continue on in a series of TV movies (story
). Was it the ratings? Has the show been kicked to the curb in favor of Stargate Universe
, the anticipated third series in the franchise? Is the franchise just running out of steam?
We took these questions to Brad Wright
, who co-created Atlantis
with Robert C. Cooper five years ago. In this frank and honest conversation, the executive producer answers all those questions, talks about the matter of blame, and shares why he believes that this is truly the best decision for Atlantis
and for Stargate moving forward.
GateWorld's interview with Brad Wright runs about 24 minutes. Listen online at your leisure, download it to your MP3 player, or subscribe now to the iTunes podcast
! The full interview is also transcribed below.
Our thanks to Brad for making himself available to us on short notice, as this news broke. Don't miss GateWorld's continuing coverage of Stargate Atlantis
and Stargate Universe
in the days to come, and tune in to our weekly podcast
for more discussion of these issues.
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net this is Darren Sumner, and I'm on the phone today with Stargate Atlantis executive producer and co-creator Brad Wright.
Brad Wright: Hi, Darren!
GW: Now we've just found out that SCI FI Channel has cancelled Stargate Atlantis, and will continue on the show in the form of movies for TV and DVD. Stargate Atlantis has been doing really respectable numbers in the ratings this year, and it seems to me that it's creatively still on an up-swing. Were you anticipating a renewal for the show?
BW: Well, I kind of already answered that. We have been in discussions with MGM and SCI FI about "Where to next?" and we decided basically to pull the trigger on movies sooner rather than later, while Atlantis was still doing well. It was a mutual thing. I honestly have neither the desire nor the inclination to blame anybody, because this is a wonderful thing to be able to continue.
GW: So was this MGM's decision or SCI FI's decision?
BW: [Laughter] People are trying to blame MGM and SCI FI!
GW: Well, there's an interesting little phenomenon that goes on with science fiction fans, as I'm sure you know: Any time a show comes to an end, whether it's been 15 episodes or 10 years, there has got to be someone held accountable for the show going away!
Atlantis burst onto the scene in 2004, smashing the SCI FI Channel's ratings records.
BW: Look, if they weren't in complete agreement on where to go next, if it wasn't a joint decision, there wouldn't be a movie deal already in place.
GW: Tell me what are some of the factors that went into this. Obviously in the press release there is a very positive spin, that we want to do movies instead. But is the show coming to an end because of the strength of the American dollar, or the increasing salaries, or just looking at the potential money that could be made from DVD sales (versus selling boxed sets)?
BW: You know, I'm not going to pretend to be SCI FI's or MGM's business affairs people. But once we realized that with the prospect of another series going forward -- which, I keep saying this, but it's so on the cusp of being ready to say that -- and SG-1 movies going forward, this was the right way for the partnership between MGM and us and SCI FI to go forward.
It's not like there was any -- like you said, the show was doing well. But you don't wait until the show isn't doing well before you try to launch movies. If you are going to go do movies when the show has still got life left in it, that's a good time!
GW: So you see this as going out on a high note for the television show?
BW: Yeah! Very much so. Very much so. And I feel good about it.
I have to say that maybe if we hadn't made Ark and Continuum that things might be a little different. But we did, and it was hugely creatively fulfilling, and it was very successful. So if it provides another strong leg for the franchise, I'm all for it.
And the fact is, SCI FI is all aboard. Now they have a deal to air those, but we did those movies without SCI FI. So the fact that it's basically a joint announcement is proof that it's not necessarily one or the other, or us. It's something we've all decided to do.
GW: So SCI FI is going to air The Ark of Truth and Continuum.
BW: Mmm-hmm! That was in the press release.
GW: So this is three legs that the Stargate franchise is now standing on, with Stargate Universe coming out eventually.
Atlantis will join SG-1 in the film medium, starting next year.
BW: Four. I have to count the game.
GW: Yeah! Stargate Worlds.
BW: Stargate Worlds is going to be out roughly the same time, if we get the green light on Universe soon -- we'll be talking about four Stargate "brands," if you will. And that's good for the franchise. Riding one horse until it's tired is not going to make it evolve into movies.
And you know, SG-1 owes Atlantis a debt in that sense. It helped revive the franchise for SG-1. And I think that's how it's going to proceed between Atlantis, SG-1, and Universe. And the game! That's going to help, too.
GW: So if there are on-going movies both for Atlantis and SG-1, do you anticipate one a year for each? Or what kind of schedule are you looking at?
BW: I would love -- love -- to do two a year going forward.
GW: Total, or for each series?
BW: Maybe one of each. Maybe even three. I don't want to test the marketplace -- I have no idea what the saturation point would be in that situation. But people seem to have responded very well to Ark and Continuum. And if the next two go just as well, I don't see why we wouldn't do two more the following year. Or more! That's why I say, "Or more."