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The Stargate franchise blazes forward into new territory with Stargate Universe, a brand new television series from the creators of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. The SCI FI Channel announced today that it has picked up the new series for 2009.

The show will begin production early next year, and premiere in the summer with a 2-hour movie.

“SCI FI has enjoyed tremendous success with Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis and we're proud to be the home of the new Stargate Universe,” Mark Stern, Executive Vice President, Original Programming for SCI FI said. “Universe will continue the Stargate legacy of vibrant storylines and compelling adventures, but will re-invent the format in a whole new way.”

Universe will attempt to appeal to a broader audience, drawing new viewers into the Stargate world. The show will be “a little more character-based, a little less rooted in a sci-fi mythology,” co-creator Brad Wright told GateWorld. “It really does come down to characters and stories that are engaging, and that people want to see – that they feel like they haven't seen before.”

Part of the new focus is a deliberate attempt to bring in younger viewers to watch Stargate Universe. “This is an opportunity to reinvent this franchise and make it relevant to a new generation,” SCI FI president Dave Howe told The Hollywood Reporter. “We really don't want to be more of the same. It's going to build clearly off the existing franchise but with a cast that gives it a younger vibe.”

Stargate Universe is set on board a massive Ancient ship called the Destiny, millions of years older than even the city of Atlantis (story). The Ancients launched the automated ship millions of years ago to seed Stargates throughout many galaxies, with a second ship planned to follow it up and explore those planets. But they got busy with ascension, and never followed through on the plan.

Earth discovers that the Stargate's mysterious ninth chevron can be utilized to gate directly to the Ancient ship, opening up literally the whole universe to explore. But the team will soon discover that they have no way back to Earth, and must ride the ship on its programmed course.

Here is how SCI FI describes the show:

After unlocking the mystery of the Stargate's ninth chevron, a team of explorers travels to an unmanned starship called the Destiny, launched by The Ancients at the height of their civilization as a grand experiment set in motion, but never completed.

What starts as a simple reconnaissance turns into a never ending mission, as the Stargate Universe crew discovers the ship is unable to return to Earth, and they must now fend for themselves aboard the Destiny.

The crew will travel to the far reaches of the universe, connecting with each of the previously launched Stargates, thus fulfilling the Destiny's original mission. Challenges will arise though as the ship comes into range of Stargates placed centuries ahead of the Destiny and the crew is unable to control the ship's navigational schedule. If someone is left behind, there is no way to go back for them, adding to the drama of encountering new races, enemies and adventures.

The Ancients: Is there anything they can't do? From “Rising”
Wright and Atlantis and Universe co-creator Robert C. Cooper will serve as show-runners, and are currently writing the premiere episode.

The news of the show's pick-up comes immediately on the heels of the network's announcement that Stargate Atlantis is ending after the current, fifth season, but will continue on to TV movies (story). But executive producer Brad Wright insists that the one decision did not cause the other.

“It's not the case that anything is being pushed aside, any more than SG-1 is pushed aside,” Wright told GateWorld. “Shows have a life, and they live their life … There will always be a point where those people are disappointed. This is a way of preserving Atlantis going forward in a very strong way.”

Wright told GateWorld that Stargate Universe has been in the concept stage for two years, and that this year the time was right for SCI FI and MGM to move forward on the project together.

Stargate's third live-action television series will shoot at The Bridge Studios in Vancouver, British Columbia. Stargate will take up new stage space on the lot, with the Atlantis and Stargate Command sets staying put on Stages 6 and 5 (respectively).

GateWorld is your number one source of news on Stargate Universe, so keep it locked right here as the show goes into production in the coming weeks!