With Roland Emmerich's Independence Day sequel rolling into U.S. theaters next weekend, it's time to revisit another of the director's '90s sci-fi films, Stargate. Back in 2013, Emmerich and writer/producer partner Dean Devlin were talking about their Stargate sequel hopes transitioning into a reboot trilogy. Over the years, that wish has been getting closer and closer to reality.
The 1994 original starred Kurt Russell as a retired Army colonel who teams up with James Spader's Egyptology expert to step into the wormhole created by a newly-discovered ancient Egyptian portal. They land in a slave culture on another world, ruled mercilessly by the sun god Ra (Jaye Davidson). The moderately successful film became a cult favorite, spawning three spin-off TV series, including 10 years of Stargate: SG-1.
More than 20 years have passed since the original, making it difficult to pursue the filmmakers' initial trilogy concept with the original actors. In an interview for Variety, Devlin expressed the hope that the first new Stargate film will kick off the franchise that he and Emmerich planned back in the '90s.
"It's not a story that can take place 20 years later. So the only way to really tell that trilogy is to go back from the beginning and start the story all over again. ... Today, studios tend to not think of movies as trilogies or sequels (but) as cinematic universes. So as we've been developing it, we found all these avenues that allow it to expand. The foundation is exactly the same as what we wanted to do, but now the possibilities are much wider."
Diehard fans of the TV series universe will likely be disappointed that the new franchise will "sidestep" those threads of the story in favor of Emmerich and Devlin's original vision. MGM's Motion Picture Group president, Jonathan Glickman, felt that a reboot was the only way to revitalize the "played-out" Stargate property. For Devlin, it's all about getting to use all those ideas they conceived of in the first place.
"Because of what happened with the rights and changes at the studio and all kinds of strange things, we never got to do parts two and three. It was taken away from us, and it's tough to have your children raised by other parents, even if they do a very good job. … For us, it's not putting down what has been done. It's to let us finish telling our story."
Rehashing old ground can be a tricky proposition, especially since the first new film will likely mirror most of the original. The advancements in special effects will surely work in its favor, bringing the new film to greater heights on the visual front. Devlin and Emmerich are also handing over the writing reins to the ID4 sequel team, Nicolas Wright and James A. Woods, to offer fresh perspective to the material. Hindsight can be extremely valuable, as the filmmakers have had two decades to ponder all the ways Stargate could have been done better.
The ability to travel through an ancient portal to far-off worlds offers a wealth of plot potential for multiple films, and it sounds like Devlin and Emmerich have plenty of ideas. It could also be a good way to kickstart the careers of lesser-known actors, though it would likely boost interest in the film if Spader and Russell had some role in the reboot, even with cameos that just offered a nod to the original.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for updates on the Stargate reboot as this story develops.