It looks like that big-screen Firefly movie has been temporarily grounded. In September it was announced that Joss Whedon had struck a deal with Universal to turn his short-lived Fox series into a feature film, with shooting expected to begin in early '04. But in an interview with TV Guide Online, the acclaimed Buffy auteur hints that the much-talked-about venture has not in fact been cleared for takeoff.

"I have interest, I have hope, but I have no news," says Whedon. "I can't really talk about it. When there is news, I will [tell you]. But if I start talking about it before there is [anything definitive to say], it lessens the chance that [it will get made]." (Calls to Universal were not returned.) This much Whedon can say: Any Firefly flick would be accessible to fans and non-fans alike. "Assuming it actually happens — which I cannot — yeah, the idea is I'm trying to write a movie that everybody who hasn't seen the show could enjoy, but that doesn't repeat anything that we have seen on the show."

While Whedon sorts through the red tape, the space western's diehard followers can entertain themselves with Firefly: The Complete Series, which arrives on DVD today. In addition to three never-aired episodes, the four-disc set includes a documentary about the show, interviews with cast members Nathan Fillion and Gina Torres and a gag reel. What the DVD doesn't feature, however, is a satisfying conclusion to the epic story.

"We shot the episodes before we knew that we were getting cancelled," says Whedon, who describes his Firefly tour of duty as "the best working experience that I've ever had and the most painful one. In terms of good, I've never had a happier set or a cast that got along that well. On the downside, I learned that you have to be aware of who your buyer is and make damn sure that they actually want what you're giving them. Because ultimately, if they don't, nothing you do is going to help."

So, is it safe to say that Whedon's next TV project won't be airing on Fox? "Well, the network and I are not having sleepovers," he admits. "But it's not like we've sworn blood vengeance either. I'm not the first person who ever had a show cancelled."