Terminator Salvation was initially planned to introduce us to a new trilogy, but production on an untitled fifth film in the franchise was halted by legal strife, as well as production company Halcyon filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection. So where to now?
Back in February of this year California hedge fund Pacificor retained the William Morris Endeavor agency to represent it in the sale of all rights to the "Terminator franchise". Included are rights to exploit the property for film, television, merchandise and online games. In addition, William Morris Endeavor was contracted to help Pacificor to select and retain key talent for the next sequel.
A U.S. bankruptcy judge ruled that the movie franchise could be sold to Pacificor, ending months of speculation after its former owner Halcyon Holding collapsed into bankruptcy in August. Pacificor, Halcyon's largest creditor in the bankruptcy, made a winning "credit bid" of $29.5 million to buy the franchise and promised to pay another $5 million to Halcyon's bankruptcy estate for each future Terminator sequel.
The judge overruled an objection from Sony Corp' Columbia Pictures & Lions Gate Entertainment Corp which had claimed the auction process was unfair after their joint $35.6 million bid for the franchise was not selected. The studios had also promised to pay the estate an additional $2 million for each of the sixth and seventh Terminator sequels, but no money for the fifth sequel. Halcyon, the Holding company had bought the Terminator franchise in 2007 for about $25 million and produced Terminator Salvation, which took in about $371 million in worldwide box office returns last year. Reuters.
During a press junket for Clash of the Titans, Sam Worthington told MTV News that he would be more than willing to return for another Terminator outing if "the story was worth telling" and if star Christian Bale and director McG were onboard as well. There's just one small problem, Worthington's character, Marcus Wright, sacrificed his life to save John Connor [Bale] at the end of the first movie. Luckily, Worthington has a solution for that tiny snafu: time travel.
"I had an idea that we'd go back in time to when Marcus was first put in jail," the actor explained, referring to his character's status as a death-row inmate years before being turned into a machine. "They broke Linda Hamilton out of jail in ['Terminator 2: Judgment Day'], out of the nuthouse. In this one, they'd have to go back in time and break Marcus out of jail. It's the same kind of mirror image." Worthington said his pitch wasn't embraced by the powers that be, but he still enjoys the idea of what Marcus' resurrection could mean for the franchise and for his own performance of the character.
"He would be more fallible, because he's human; he's not metallic," he said. "He can get hurt. He still has the gung-ho attitude, but he can get hurt now." Even if time travel and terminators aren't in the busy actor's future, Worthington confessed that he would want to pursue a Salvation sequel for one simple reason: "I really liked playing the character a lot."
So.. does Pacificor have the vast resources to actually make any future Terminator films? No. They are a financial fund just sitting on the rights hoping to get their money back or any money the investment would bring in. It now seems Pacificor have turned around and opened negations with Lionsgate and Sony over creating future Terminator films - the two studios they previously outbid. Pacificor it seems simply just wanted control. But then now comes news that William Wisher, [James Cameron's writing partner on the first two Terminator films] has a two film treatment that will allow for more Terminator films and people are getting excited by that premise.
Deadline’s Mike Fleming got the opportunity to review the two treatments:
“As a ‘Terminator’ fanboy myself, I think Wisher has done a terrific job with a plot that accepts the storylines from Jonathan Mostow’s ‘Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines’ and McG’s ‘Terminator: Salvation.’ Most interestingly, he turns the story back to the core characters and time travel storyline of the first two films that Wisher crafted with Cameron. Wisher’s 2-picture construct takes place in a post-apocalyptic battleground, and factors in an element of time travel that allows for Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese to interact beyond their single fateful meeting when he traveled back in time to protect her in the original film. Wisher has created a role for Arnold Schwarzenegger that is as surprising as his shift from villain in the first film, to John Connor’s bodyguard in the second. Schwarzenegger wouldn’t be needed until the final film, which wouldn’t shoot until after he ends his term as California Governor."
"There are several new villains, and plenty of firepower. For instance, a swarm of ‘Night Crawlers,’ 4 1/2-foot tall border sentries that are set like mines to spring up out of the ground and ambush rebel fighters with 10 MM pistols built into their wrists, and fingers and feet that are razor sharp. Also fresh off the Skynet assembly line are new shape-shifting cyborgs that can morph together in Transformers-like mode, and are more lethal than anything we’ve seen in previous ‘Terminator’ installments.Wisher presents a satisfying conclusion to what by then would be a 6-picture struggle between Skynet’s machines and John and Sarah Connor to preserve a future that allows mankind to prevail over the machines.”
In August of this year production company Hanover house via press release stated it would develop Terminator 3000, a $70 million, 3D animated feature "based on the characters & situations introduced in the original Terminator feature". They have also stated that "Story details for Terminator 3000 are being kept under close wraps, but the writers & production team have a stated goal of minimizing violence in order to obtain a PG-13 level of material."
This sounded a little soft considering your core subject is a cold, capable & lethal killing machine ..as bizarre as this sounds Terminator Salvation also had a PG-13 rating.
Here’s the original press release:
NEW YORK, NY, Aug 12, 2010 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — Hannover House, the entertainment distribution division of Target Development Group, Inc. (PINKSHEETS: TDGI) (www.HannoverHouse.com), has entered into a feature film development venture with Vancouver-based Red Bear Entertainment, for “Terminator 3000,” envisioned as a $70-million dollar budgeted, 3-D animated feature film based on the characters and situations introduced in the original “Terminator” feature. Hannover House C.E.O. Eric Parkinson previously served as C.E.O. of Hemdale Home Video, Inc. and Hemdale Communications, Inc., and handled the distribution of the original “Terminator” feature.
Story details for “Terminator 3000″ are being kept under close wraps, but the writers and production team have a stated goal of minimizing violence in order to obtain a PG-13 level of material.
Hemdale produced and distributed director James Cameron’s original “Terminator” feature, but released the sequel rights in 1990 to Carolco, which later transferred the rights to ultimately end up under the control of Halcyon Media. Santa Barbara based Pacificor, LLC prevailed in the most recent auction and transfer of rights to the franchise in January, and retains approval and licensing authority over the proposed “Terminator 3000″ project.
Hannover House and Red Bear Entertainment will release details of the production timing, financing and principal production personnel later this year, in advance of a proposed January, 2011 start.
One question kept coming up after this press release, How do these guys have the rights to the franchise? But the press release from Hannover addressed that question, saying that, as the rights had gone to Pacificor, LLC earlier this year, that outfit "retains approval and licensing authority” over the proposed film. In other words: "we’re going to announce that we’re making this, and hope Pacificor plays ball."
Pacificor understandably, promptly shot off a cease and desist letter to Hannover demanding that the company cease development of the film. For his part, Hanover CEO Eric Parkinson said that the press release was essentialy premature, and that it went out only because another involved party spoke publicly about the project. So, with the cat out of the bag, might as well issue a press release, right? Well…
Parkinson told Deadline:
"The animation rights were excluded when Hemdale sold Terminator to Carolco and when I left Hemdale, part of my settlement was that I got those rights…However, the way the rest of the contractual rights are written, it would be dangerous for us to do this without Pacificor’s approval. They have certain intellectual rights. The best way to put it is, they can’t make an animated film without me, and we might not be able to make it without them. We are in discussions with WME, and hope we can deal with this expeditiously."
Like I said, this is turning into a game. Put the info out there, see what the response is, and then use a paycheck to get a shrug and a rights offer from the holders. But Pacificor publicly stated that the company has no interest in any project beyond the live action films that have been spoken of in recent months. Parkinson responds, saying that he’s basically offered "a big rights fee to Pacificor" if the company lets him go ahead with the film. Talks stalled and a collective sign echoed through the fan base. But now Pacificor have to move forward.
Update: Producer of the first 3 Terminator films, Aliens and a credited writer on Terminator salvation; Gale Anne Hund has expressed a desire for creating a new Terminator film.
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Concept art courtesy of Industrial Light and Magic Artist Christian Alzmann and Visual Effects Art Director Warren Fu.