It’s been fully a decade since The Ark of Truth and Stargate: Continuum arrived on DVD. It was a new era for long-form storytelling in the Stargate universe, and the show’s writers hoped that the DVD market would remain strong enough to support new SG-1 and Atlantis adventures for years to come.
History proved otherwise, of course. In his appearance on stage at Gatecon: The Invasion last month, Brad Wright — co-creator of all three Stargate television series — told fans about that day when MGM pumped the breaks on additional Stargate movies.
“I called MGM and they said, ‘Could you just slow development back a bit? We’ve got some weird numbers coming out …'” Wright told the crowd. “And we said, ‘OK.'”
“About a month went by and they said, ‘OK, we’re going to have to put the movies on hold.’ And I went, ‘Really?‘”
Two movies were on the drawing board in 2009, following the successful DVD releases of the two Stargate SG-1 films. Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie completed a script for Stargate: Extinction, continuing the story of the city of Atlantis. And Wright and Carl Binder were working on SG-1’s third film — the Jack O’Neill-centric Stargate: Revolution.
The production studio fought to keep Stargate’s sets in Vancouver standing for as long as possible, despite the ongoing costs to rent the sound stages. Eventually that proved to be a losing battle, and the S.G.C. and Atlantis sets were struck. MGM went into bankruptcy at the end of 2010.
“Ark of Truth and Continuum did very well,” Wright said. “For MGM is was a huge home run. And they may have been the last successful DVD releases. Because once streaming kicked in and you could just choose a movie from your house, and didn’t have to go to a video store any more, people found out that was better.”
Wright suggested that at the time online streaming was little more than an after-thought for the various production studios (including MGM).
“All the studios had just sort of given shows to Netflix as an extra revenue stream, without recognizing the paradigm shift that was actually happening,” he said. So they sold the streaming rights to various catalog films and series to Netflix below what they were worth.
Ironically the industry factor that helped to cut the legs out from underneath the home video sales a decade ago is today driving new programming — on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other digital streaming services. And it could be responsible for Stargate’s own return. MGM launched Stargate Command last fall, with the short-form Web series Stargate Origins streaming exclusively online earlier this year.
In his full, hour-long panel Wright also encouraged fans with the news that he is talking with MGM again. The studio wants to keep the Stargate franchise alive, he said, and is currently working toward that end.
Check out GateWorld’s exclusive video from Gatecon, which includes six minutes of highlights from the panel. Brad also talks about how Netflix changed the television industry, and how the writers’ room on all of his shows works together to hone a great story.