As Stargate fans have worried over the past six months, Amazon and MGM may indeed be ready to turn the page on the science fiction franchise.
Stargate’s television co-creator and executive producer Brad Wright is now speaking of his new series pitch in the past tense, stating that the pilot script is “likely destined to gather dust.” He commented on the state of the pilot script on social media this week, giving the strongest indication yet that he hasn’t been involved in any active talks with Stargate’s new owners.
Wright shepherded the television franchise over the course of 14 years and 17 seasons. He co-created Stargate SG-1 with Jonathan Glassner in 1997, and both Stargate Atlantis (2004) and Stargate Universe (2009) with Robert C. Cooper.
He was brought on to develop a new Stargate project in late 2018 or early 2019. By the spring of 2020 he had a pilot script for a fourth live-action television series, which would have continued the existing canon and introduced a new team — while also providing ample opportunity for actors from previous incarnations to make guest appearances.
When Wright and the MGM team were preparing to go out and pitch the project and find a home with a broadcast or streaming partner, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought everything to a screeching halt. Wright set to work on refining his script during the long shutdown. But in the spring of 2021 MGM announced that it was selling the entire studio and all its assets to Amazon.
After Amazon completed its $8.45 billion acquisition of MGM this past spring, fans of the current canon had one remaining hope: that the studio would see Wright’s script as low-hanging fruit, a likely hit that was ready to green-light from one of the TV franchise’s original creators.
Wright’s latest message seems to indicate that he has not been in any ongoing negotiations with the studio thus far. In response to a fan inquiry about a possible new series he wrote: “You won’t hear news from me. MGM did hire me to write a pilot for a new show but that was just before COVID hit. Timing couldn’t have been much worse. All the players have changed in the interim so it’s likely destined to gather dust. Would’ve been fun, though.”
Thanks! But you won't hear news from me. MGM did hire me to write a pilot for a new show but that was just before covid hit. Timing couldn't have been much worse. All the players have changed in the interim so it's likely destined to gather dust. Would've been fun, though.
— Brad Wright (@bradtravelers) November 1, 2022
This is in line with the statement he made on a livestream for The Companion in July, that his pilot will “probably never see the light of day.”
So what are Amazon and MGM going to do with the Stargate franchise? By any account this would seem to be a high-profile property that, more than 10 years after SGU went off the air, is ripe for revisiting. In the current era of the mass proliferation of streaming services, it’s pretty surprising that it has not happened already.
Wright is confident that the studio will eventually do something with Stargate, even if it isn’t his proposed series.
“Thank you to everyone who’s been asking MGM and Amazon to bring Stargate back,” he tweeted on Stargate SG-1‘s twenty-fifth anniversary in July. “With amazing fans like all of you, I’m sure they will.”
On Monday he wrote on Twitter: “MGM/Amazon will make another Stargate. It may just take some time for them to decide what they want to do. But they own it. Not me.”
Broadly speaking, three possible scenarios suggest themselves for the future of the franchise — when Amazon and MGM executives eventually do turn their attention back to Stargate. One is that they could turn to Brad Wright, as a writer and producer who holds 14 years of experience and the trust of the established fan base, and revive the script that has been collecting dust.
The second possibility is that the studios seek out new creatives to pitch a new direction for Stargate — either as some form of continuation of what has come before, or as a reboot of the franchise. (This was MGM’s short-lived plan in 2014, when original Stargate feature film creators Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin were given the go-ahead to produce the first in a planned trilogy of movies. After some creative differences the project languished, and was finally declared dead in 2016.)
Third and finally, if studio execs are not interested in producing the 2020 script but do want to “dance with the one that brung ’em” and reassure fans that Stargate is in good hands, they could ask Wright himself to pitch something different. Other Stargate writers are also still active in pitching and running shows, from Robert Cooper (Generation Mars) and Jonathan Glassner (The Ark) to Joseph Mallozzi (Dark Matter) and Martin Gero (Quantum Leap).
Where Amazon and MGM will come down on this question is anybody’s guess. GateWorld and Stargate fandom at large have been riding the studio hard for more than four years (since 2018’s Web series Stargate Origins), including numerous social media campaigns — all of which has been met with silence. Both before and after the sale to Amazon, MGM hasn’t given any public indication that it has any intention of doing anything further with the brand.
So where do we go from here?