"Babylon 5 is an extraordinarily important franchise to all of Warner Brothers. So much so that it is of course very much on the minds at everybody at Warner home video, and bringing Babylon 5 to a next generation shall we say, is very much on the minds of everyone involved. The fact that the show was post produced on video tape and FX were done on video tape makes bringing another iteration a very expensive proposition. But it is being discussed in the highest of quarters."
"There might be hope, but there is nothing to report that’s a fact. Lets just say that the powers that be are very smart and they know the fan desire is out there."
Babylon 5 aired 110 episodes (and seven TV movies, including the pilot) between 1993 and 1998, with additional TV movies being made in 2001 and 2007, as well as a short-lived spin-off series called Crusade which ran for 13 episodes in 1999. Though it enjoyed solid ratings for most of its run, Babylon 5 was never the ratings juggernaut that the various Star Trek shows were. However, its critical acclaim was immense, often eclipsing that of its contemporary Star Trek shows. It won two back-to-back Hugo Awards in 1996 and 1997, as well as various Emmies for its cutting-edge CGI effects work. The original series was released on DVD in 2003 and 2004 and according to some sources has made over $500 million in worldwide sales for Warner Brothers.
Like most US TV shows of the time, Babylon 5 was recorded on film but mastered - having special effects, music and sound effects added - on video tape. Video tape cannot be upscaled to high-definition resolution, preventing the show from being upscaled as-is and released on Blu-Ray. Instead, the only way to upscale the entire show is to go back to the original film elements, extract a HD image and then re-edit each episode from scratch. Whilst the original audio tracks can be re-used, the special effects would also all have to be remade from scratch and edited back in. In the case of Babylon 5, which sometimes had 100 CGI shots per episode, this would be extremely expensive and time-consuming.
However, last year CBS began re-releasing Star Trek: The Next Generation on Blu-Ray and put the show through this extremely laborious process. Each season takes over four months (and closer to six for the first couple) and $9 million to bring up to scratch. The Blu-Ray re-releases have been extremely successful and wildly acclaimed, and some of the same personnel are now allegedly working on a similar Blu-Ray re-release for The X-Files for next year, whilst the ST:TNG team is rumoured to be moving straight onto Deep Space Nine (which has many more CGI shots) once TNG is completed early next year. Warner Brothers have certainly been monitoring the situation and the sales to judge whether it is worthwhile to pursue a similar process for Babylon 5.
The viability of this plan would depend on the original film stock having been stored in good conditions. According to rumour, the Babylon 5 pilot episode's film has been damaged in storage, initially by flooding and later by rats getting into the facility. The status of the rest of the show is not known. If it has all been stored, then upgrading the show's live action scenes to HD will be relatively quick and easy. More complex are the CGI scenes and composite scenes (scenes mixing live action and CGI, including every time a PPG weapon is fired), which would need to be completely redone from scratch. The cost of this may be too much to be practical. Still, it's encouraging to know that WB are at least looking into the matter.