A new story 'Ark' for 'Stargate'

MGM resurrects Sci Fi series with direct-to-vid pics

"Stargate: The Ark of Truth," the first of two direct-to-video movies based on the long-running "Stargate: SG-1" TV series, will debut March 11 on DVD, MGM Home Entertainment is set to announce today.

The film concludes the primary story line of Seasons 9 and 10, picking up after "Unending," the series finale.

Amanda Tapping, Beau Bridges, Christopher Judge, Michael Shanks, Ben Browder and Claudia Black returned to reprise their roles in the original series, which went off the air in March.

Robert C. Cooper, who executive produced the TV series, had the same role with "Ark of Truth." He also wrote and directed the film, which follows the Stargate SG-1 crew searching for an ancient weapon that could help them defeat the sinister Ori force only to find themselves in a distant galaxy fighting two powerful enemies.

The second direct-to-video movie, "Stargate: Continuum," is being helmed by Martin Wood, who directed more than 70 episodes of "Stargate: SG-1" and its spinoff, "Stargate: Atlantis." A DVD release date for "Continuum" has not been set.

Why move the "Stargate" franchise to DVD?

"The show was not renewed after 10 record-breaking seasons," said Cooper, who provides a commentary track on the "Ark of Truth" DVD. "Ratings were still strong at the time the show ended its run on Sci Fi Channel and continue to be strong for 'Atlantis.' 'Stargate: SG-1' is the longest-running science fiction show in history, and sales of the TV-DVDs do very well. And essentially, we believed there were still 'SG-1' stories to tell, and the studio obviously thought there was a market for the product."

The two direct-to-video movies are quite different, Cooper said, adding that he hopes they set the groundwork for more DVD movies based on the series.

" 'Stargate: The Ark of Truth' really is much more of a conclusion — the final chapter in the Ori story line that had been the major arc for Seasons 9 and 10," he said. "Continuum," on the other hand, is "a good old-fashioned 'SG-1' stand-alone story that will hopefully show our audience that there are still 'SG-1' stories to be told with this cast beyond the wrap-up in 'Ark of Truth,' " he said.

"We obviously hope both movies together can help 'SG-1' transition into a series of these types of films," Cooper said. "If they also bring new fans to the franchise and maybe inspire people to go back and watch the show in reruns or on DVD, that would be great, too."

Although the movies are based on the "SG-1" TV series, they have a different look and feel than the original TV episodes, Cooper said.

"Overall, the movies feel like they are a little bigger and a little richer than the show," he said. "We shot in 35mm film, framed for 16x9, and spent the money on some sets and locations we never could have afforded on the series. We also shot the movies with a bigger scope in mind."

Creatively, there are differences as well. "On the show, we had a five-act structure, and we designed the stories around commercial breaks," Cooper said. "(But) the DTVs are more structurally like movies, with a beginning, middle and ending — long, sustained action that ramps up to a satisfying conclusion."
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