The co-creator of Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe is answering fans’ questions about the franchise, his work on Netflix’s Travelers (which he also created and executive produced), and more — including where Amazon, the franchise’s new owner, is taking Stargate.
Writer and executive producer Brad Wright participated today in an open Q&A session on Reddit. The AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) conversation is part of the r/scifi subreddit’s “30 Days of Stargate” event, sponsored by The Companion and running through mid-December.
In response to fans’ questions Wright acknowledged that Amazon looks to be moving on with Stargate without him. “I am sure MGM and Amazon will do something with the franchise,” he said. “I am less sure if I will have anything to do with it. A few years ago now, MGM reached out to me and asked me to develop a pilot script for a new series, but so much has changed since then, including all of the players. Amazon is probably deciding what to do with Stargate as a tent-pole franchise and that may take some time. I wish them well.”
Recent reports suggested that Amazon might have passed on Wright’s script because they want to make a higher-budget show that turns Stargate into a tent-pole franchise. But Wright pushed back on the notion that his script was too small for the next chapter of the brand.
“I doubt it’s because my script wasn’t ambitious enough, because it was huge!” he said. “But it wasn’t a reinvention of the franchise and that may be what they’re looking for. I don’t know. I’ve not spoken to anyone at Amazon. I’m not keeping secrets. … I don’t think Amazon has decided anything yet.”
He added that he would, of course, be up for future talks with Amazon — should the studio be interested in his take. “They have the resources to ask anyone in the world,” he said. “But if they asked me to give it another shot, of course I would. However unlikely that is.”
Wright said he doesn’t know whether Amazon will still with Stargate’s existing canon. “I’m sure they’re considering it, but I suspect they’re also considering starting afresh, without any of the ‘baggage’ of previous iterations. I can see both points of view.
“My own take was a continuation of the existing universe, but over a decade later, with brand new elements and an entirely new enemy. I tried to do both old and new. I have no idea what Amazon will do, but those decisions will take place at the highest level. I suspect they’ll bring in an A-list writer or writers. (I am not on that list.)”
In response to another fan question Wright pointed out that this would not be the first time that other creatives took the reigns of a show he helped to create. Wright himself stepped away from day-to-day showrunning after a few years on both Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. “I’ve already experienced what you’re talking about to a degree,” he said. “Rob [Cooper] took over from me as showrunner later in SG-1 and made different choices, just as Paul [Mullie] and Joe [Mallozzi] did with Atlantis. But just because it’s not what you would have done, doesn’t mean it’s not good.”
Along with Stargate SG-1 co-creator Jonathan Glassner, of course Wright himself took over the story from original film creators Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin.
“I am curious to see what Amazon’s plans are, and even more curious to find out if they’ll want to include me in some capacity. But I won’t take it too personally if the new people don’t want the old guy looking over their shoulder.”
So what can fans hope for from an Amazon-produced series? While many have expressed frustration over recent book adaptations like The Wheel of Time and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, there is some solace to take in Wright’s optimism. Amazon isn’t about to alienate a large, existing fan base. That would be bad business.
“Amazon will definitely do their research,” he said, and “if the built-in audience is big enough, their voices will be heard.”
Some other highlights from Wright’s AMA:
- Will Brad reveal the plans he had for Destiny and her crew? “Well, no. In part because there may be an opportunity for someone to tell that story in a future Stargate series.”
- Despite his inability to finish telling SGU‘s story, Wright did confess that he likes the way that the final episode ended it. “I actually like how SGU ended, although I know I’m in the minority. It’s hopeful, it’s mysterious, and it left the door open. Also, Joel’s music cue for the ending is glorious and moving.”
- On the decision to ultimately reveal the Stargate to the general public: “That was going to be part of the plot for the next SG-1 DVD movie. It was also going to be revealed in the first season of the series I wrote a pilot for, though not intentionally. It seems wrong at this point for S.G.C. to be keeping all that advanced tech secret at this point.”
- Favorite SG-1 episode to work on? “There are many, of course. 100 and ‘200’ were fun. I loved ‘Solitudes’ because we refrigerated the sound stage and the set was wonderful. ‘2010’ was a joy because Andy really hit it out of the park as a director. ‘Urgo’ was wonderful because Peter got to work with hid dad, who was hilarious. And of course Continuum.”
- Does Brad think that Jack and Sam eventually got together, after the series? “There’s a line in my unproduced pilot from O’Neill to Carter: ‘I still have your toothbrush. I’ve only used it once.'”
- Was there ever a time an episode turned out exactly as he envisioned it while writing? “Closest I ever came to that was the climax of ‘2010.’ Andy [Mikita, director] nailed it. Having said that, I think it’s important for my own vision to evolve and translate to the screen in a different way than I originally imagined. Most often it’s better.”
- Was Stargate Universe meant to get away from how advanced and powerful the S.G.C. and Atlantis had become over 15 seasons? “Yes, we wanted the characters of SGU to be the wrong people, entirely cut off, then eventually we wanted them to come together as a team. We probably took too long to do the latter.”
- On SGU‘s cancellation after just two seasons: “We were all disappointed. I wish we had at least one more season. Still, 40 episodes in today’s television world is 4 seasons. So there’s that …”
- On the sudden end of MGM’s plans for ongoing, direct-to-DVD movies: “We intended to make a series of DVD movies. We spent a fortune keeping the Atlantis set up, but the bottom fell out of the DVD market and MGM told us to stand down. Too bad, too. I really enjoyed making Continuum and they worked well alongside the TV shows.”
- On the possibility of more Travelers: “I think Travelers is going to be thought of as a cult hit eventually, but I don’t think we ever reached the numbers that would make Netflix want to revisit. Carrie [Mudd] and I did try, and Eric [McCormack] was all aboard to continue. But never say never. I love the world and the stakes and would love to make a version 2 some day.”
- Why does he think contemporary sci-fi is leaning into more grim and dark tones? “Good question. I like both. My episodes from Outer Limits were sometimes very grim. We got shit for that in SGU, but I think we found the right balance (just as MGM was going bankrupt.) Part of the change in tone stems from the realism that’s now possible on a television budget. It’s more feature-like. … I’ve written my share of ‘the world is about to end’ stuff on Outer Limits in the 90s. The reason for that, of course, is each episode was a one-off. You could end the world every other week and the show could still come back.”
- What was the biggest challenge? “Making SG-1 and Atlantis at the same time for those years, with the same story room, the same art department, construction department and post production department and production office … waay too much at once. But it was really the only way we could produce both with the limited budgets we had.”
Finally, what is next for Brad Wright? Those of us who have been fans of his work since the mid-1990s are eager to see what comes from his keyboard next. So with Stargate falling by the wayside once again, is he working on any exciting projects?
“Well, I think all my projects are exciting, of course, but the trick is convincing buyers of the same thing,” he said. “I’m trying. I’ve developed five or six series since Travelers that have not found a home (including my take on a new Stargate) but that’s the nature of the business.
“I’m at the point in my career where I only want to make stuff I created, so unless I come up with something … Without telling you my series in development, I will say they run the gamut from space-based drama to more earth-bound thriller with a sci-fi twist.”