Kel shak Stargate fans, and welcome to our humble pitch that it's time for a new Stargate series.
Amazon’s acquisition of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and all its assets last year was one of the biggest business-related earthquakes in the film and T.V. industries recently. Of course, with No Time To Die waiting for the final go-ahead, most words written about the creative prospects of the deal focused on the future of the James Bond franchise. But there’s another big property in MGM’s gigantic library that could prove immensely fruitful for Amazon’s film and T.V. divisions.
Stargate, directed by now-disaster-master Roland Emmerich, hit theaters in 1994 to poor box office results – only $71 million worldwide on a $55 million production budget plus marketing costs. The hope of kickstarting a new big sci-fi franchise was dead … on the big screen. MGM didn't give up on the IP and developed Stargate SG-1, a T.V. series which debuted in summer of 1997 and spawned ten seasons across three different television networks.
Due to the show’s massive success (and how much it expanded the Stargate universe), Stargate Atlantis was born in 2004 after SG-1’s seventh season finale and eighth season premiere. After SG-1 closed its story in 2007, Atlantis kept going until 2009, and later that same year, Stargate Universe started a short-lived run of two seasons. And that’s just the bulk of it, as the Stargate franchise expanded in a number of ways outside of T.V. series too.
New material hasn’t been too abundant since Universe’s cancellation, but fans haven’t abandoned the IP and are hopeful for a continuation of the existing Stargate universe or, at the very least, a reboot of sorts under Amazon’s wing. Does it make sense for the growing entertainment giant to toy with this franchise?
Stargate feels nothing like Star Trek or Star Wars
The current streaming landscape is harsh and ruthless – everyone wants a piece of that cake, but success ain’t happening overnight, and huge, strategic investments have to be made. What could Stargate bring to the table that Star Wars and Star Trek aren’t already doing?
Well, for starters, both Star Wars and Star Trek (despite their abundant differences) appear to be mainly concerned with overarching stories and interconnectivity at the time of writing. Yes, The Mandalorian has a big serial sensibility, and Star Trek: Discovery often delivers nice “problem/adventure of the week” episodes, but they’re very much tied to their respective grand mythologies. Same goes for Picard, the other ongoing Star Trek live-action series – it’s a big, dramatic story which cannot escape already established rules and events.
Stargate has the benefit of being “much younger” than either of those giant IPs. It’s also historically not afraid of taking big swings (see the image above) and rewriting its canon. For example, SG-1 reworked key characters from Emmerich’s film and retconned big chunks of the pre-existing mythology as soon as it started. Moreover, Stargate’s T.V. series have always gone for a more “boots on the ground” approach (originally because of budget limitations) and, if watched today, resemble classic Star Trek more than Paramount’s current efforts, which are solid, but move in a different direction.
In conclusion, Stargate could be Amazon’s next big sci-fi endeavor, especially now that The Expanse (which they rescued in 2018) is finally coming to an end. Why? Because it can reclaim currently abandoned space in the sci-fi landscape. Looking for the next Star Wars doesn’t make sense as long as Disney and Lucasfilm’s behemoth is alive (it’ll probably outlive us all), and Star Trek is doing big dramatic space journeys just fine. Stargate is traditionally silly and more flexible; even with a bigger budget, a new series should stick to what made SG-1 and Atlantis special – Universe’s biggest weakness was that it took itself too seriously and tried to bring in new viewers while forgetting about Stargate diehards who just wanted more wacky adventures.
Stargate can do “Game of Thrones in space”
We’ve just stated that Stargate has always done “silly and wacky” better than high-stakes drama, but that doesn’t mean peak Stargate didn’t deliver the dramatic goodies as well. Season finale cliffhangers were embedded in the series’ D.N.A., and the overarching conflicts often developed over many years. Furthermore, Stargate T.V. overlord Brad Wright and his team of writers weren’t afraid of taking risks with the main characters – remember Daniel Jackson’s ascension?
In fact, a new Stargate series could easily become “Game of Thrones in space” and entice viewers who know nothing about the universe. As SG-1 progressed, much of its screentime was devoted to the ongoing wars between different factions of Goa’uld (aliens who liked to dress up and basically set up our Egyptian pantheon) and other highly developed species. Asgard? Yeah, that’s also a real thing in the Stargate universe, and Thor is your stereotypical short, gray alien. As the years passed, the folks behind the series became excellent at juggling zany episodes, light-hearted adventures, and earth-shattering dramatic beats. They managed to do all this without losing sight of what separated them from other sci-fi properties.
Considering other paths
And what about new films? Well, don’t hold your breath. Roland Emmerich and his longtime collaborator Dean Devlin explicitly stated in recent years that they still wanted to do something with the plans they had back in the ‘90s for a Stargate film trilogy. Of course, their idea was to ignore what happened on T.V. (99% of the universe, basically) and start anew or just reference the original story. Needless to say, this idea hasn’t been welcomed with open arms by the Stargate fandom, and we’re pretty sure that MGM and Amazon would rather push forward with something closer to the series that elevated the franchise.
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Amazon might order scripts for a new film, but evidence suggests they’d rather focus on streaming and longform storytelling with big IPs right now. Could a new Stargate series be a fresh reboot instead of a semi-disconnected new chapter in order to achieve full creative freedom? Yes, we can see that happening as well. For now, we recommend you watch the original film and check out SG-1, both of which are available to stream on Netflix. We guarantee that, at the very least, you’ll fall in love with Christopher Judge’s Teal’c.