He did not take Stargate being cancelled lying down!
Many Gaters already know the legend of when Joe Flanigan (John Shepard in SGA) tried to save Stargate. His show, Stargate Atlantis was cancelled simply because MGM could not afford 2 expensive sci-fi shows at the same time… and they made the decision to go with a new show instead of sticking with the profitable and successful SGA.
And that decision, in my opinion, killed the franchise as we knew it.
But unlike most actors when his show was cancelled Joe Flanigan did not just move onto the next part… instead he made the decision that Stargate was too big to slip into nothingness… IT HAD TO SAVED!
So he took matters into his own hands and decided to do something. So he formed a plan and took that idea to a few backers who had the cash to make it happen.
So SGA was cancelled in 2009 and Stargate Universe was planned and Joe had his plan ready to go. At this point MGM was in serious financial trouble and Joe knew they needed cash. Initially Joe was asking to actually but the rights to the series but MGM executives quickly said they were in no position to do authorise such a deal, Joe talks about how that decision was way about the Executives head that he was negotiating with but it may have been that MGM, due to their financial situation, simply were not legally able to see any assets.
But MGM could license Stargate to Joe
Even though selling the franchise to Joe and his backers was impossible, they were willing in principal to license Stargate to them. But what would that mean? Well basically Joe wouldn’t own Stargate, but they could borrow it. They would purchase the rights to the franchise but for a limited time frame and they would be allowed to make their own show during that time frame. MGM would then have first refusal on anything that they then produced.
It was at this time that Joe and his backers got to see the financials related to the show. It was a lucrative franchise to say the least. Joe has reported in a couple of interviews since this happened that one season of his show, Atlantis, made more money than the 30 years of the Stargate Movies history, netting tens of millions of dollars in profit.
So what was Joes plan?
Well I think Joe was realistic about that show they could make. I think it is fair to assume it would have starred Joe Flanigan so would have been some sort of extension to the Atlantis series. He planned to make 20 episodes a season. Do you remember that? 20 episodes of a sci-fi show.. those were the days! He also planned to film it in Europe which would have been cheaper to them produce with the increasing value of the dollar at the time making producing TV in Canada more and more expensive.
But then the worst thing happened just as Joe started to think this could actually happen… BANKRUPTCY.
MGM went into administration on November 3rd 2010. Joe joked that it was completely crazy at the time, he would call MGM and the “cleaner” would answer the phone, “no one was there”. And for now at least, his plan was dead.
A couple of years later though once MGM reemerged from chapter 11 and Joe was back to try again.
Now by this point DVD sales had completely collapsed and streaming was still in its infancy so no one was really sure how a new show could make money. The bottom falling out the sales of DVD’s had already meant we did not get the third SG1 movie we had hoped for, nor the Atlantis movie that had been planned. Joe has talked about if he was able to follow through with his plan today he is certain he could package 10 or 13 episodes and be sure where he was going to sell them, but in 2013 or 2014? It was not so definite.
He tried again though going to the new people running MGM… he pitched his plan…AGAIN
This time the new executives thought his plan was great. However, of course there was a but… in this case the BUT was that they planned to give the franchise back to Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin to make a sequel to the 1994 movie starring Kurt Russell and James Spader.
A movie no one wanted!
In 2015 this was announced and to be honest I remember reading it and being appalled. Kurt Russell and James Spader planned to return into their roles as Colonel Jack Oneil (1 L) and Daniel Jackson. The plan was to make the movie a straight sequel to the original… FORGETTING all about SG1, SGA and SGU. As far as I was concerned when I read this the plan was a crime against Sci-fi, an abomination of an idea that would not stand.
Luckily someone saw sense and the plan was quickly dropped and we did not get a Stargate sequel or remake. Roland Emmerich has since talked about it
and said that even after this there were discussions with Amazon about a movie but he said he would not be involved because “they only care about the TV audience”. You see… there is a God and he/she is a Gater!
This close call though doesn’t taken anything away from the despair of losing Stargate, or the frustration that it was so nearly saved.
Joe Flanigan is an absolute legend as far as I am concerned for trying to do what MGM executives were too short sighted to do. It was a mix of bad luck and bad timing for the franchise and we can only hope that now Amazon has control of MGM and the financial clout to get the “sleeping giant of sci-fi” back on our screens. It does look like they are planning a movie and this is what sources close to the project tell us at Sci-trek. The Strikes of course throw a spanner in the works but as we have told you before it does look like a movie might be already deep into planning and is ready to get announced.
Just maybe they will call Joe and get him back involved… Please.