At Sci Fi Channel, the cycle went like this the last few days: cancel Stargate Atlantis on Wednesday, suffer the slings and arrows of outraged loyal fans — and then announce Friday the creation of a brand new Stargate Universe next year.
“It’s kind of hard to cancel one, but it’s good news to announce a new one,â€ Dave Howe, the network’s president, said on Friday.
For producer MGM Domestic Television and NBC Universal-owned Sci Fi, the Stargate franchise is big business, one that has now expanded beyond one-hour series to also include two-hour movie “events.â€
Atlantis, now five episodes into its fifth 20-episode season, wraps next January but will be followed by a two-hour movie Sci Fi has green-lighted for 2009.
There could be more Atlantis movies after that, as MGM has produced two so far extending the original Stargate SG-1 franchise after it ended a 10-year run of new episodes on cable (lastly on Sci Fi) in 2007.
“I think these things lend themselves to a bigger, kind of high-production-value, two hour event, which is great,â€ Howe said of Atlantis.
When the network canceled Stargate SG-1, fans reacted sharply, but Sci Fi had already put the spinoff Atlantis on the schedule.
This time, the network not only had the promise of continued life for the show in the form of at least one followup movie — it also said it will have a replacement show from the same creators (Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper) on the schedule next year.Stargate Universe will start with a two-hour movie early next year. Over the summer it will join the weekly schedule, with 18 more one-hour episodes to follow the movie.
Those moves may have muted the fans’ reaction to the cancellation — but not completely. One barometer: an online petition to save the show had close to 1,000 signatures the morning after the cancellation news broke at night. By 1 p.m. Friday it had 3,774 names.
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