The SCI FI Channel is ending Stargate Atlantis after five seasons, Multichannel News reports.
The show will go on, though, with a 2-hour movie that will air on SCI FI in 2009, and be released on DVD by MGM. The film will be written by executive producers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie.
It's intended to be the first of an on-going series of Atlantis movies, according to the report. Stargate SG-1 has released two very successful movies direct-to-DVD this year (Stargate: The Ark of Truth and Stargate: Continuum), though neither has aired on U.S. television yet.
"The show will live on as a network franchise," the report also says. This could indicate that future Atlantis movies are a lock for SCI FI, or it may be a general statement about the cable network's commitment to the Stargate franchise.
Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper, who created and executive produced Atlantis, pitched a third television series in the 11-year-old TV franchise to the network last year (story). While SCI FI has not yet announced a green light for that show, the end of Atlantis may clear the way -- the dollars available for original programming, that is -- for the next series.
Though Stargate Atlantis has been a solid ratings performer for SCI FI -- and was its highest-rated original program ever when it premiered in July 2004 -- in recent years series like Eureka have supplanted it in the "Live" ratings.
Atlantis remains an extremely strong performer in DVR-delayed viewing, though, often building as much as 25 to 30 percent on its premiere night audience.
Season Five will go out on a cliffhanger, with "Enemy At the Gate" expected to premiere in January. Expect the first Atlantis movie to wrap up that hanging storyline.