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Terminator rights sold off. Now what?

02.09.2010

TERMINATOR SALVATION was supposed to be the relaunch of a new saga in the TERMINATOR franchise. One that would lean on a new action hero, Christian Bale's John Connor, and not the aging Governor of California. That sadly didn't happen. While the film performed somewhat respectfully (a total of $370+ million overall), a vast majority of that was from international ticket sales with the $125 million in the US a big disappointment for Warner Bros.

Meanwhile, TERMINATOR rights holder Halcyon was in all kinds of financial straits and needed to unload the property to avoid bankruptcy. So they put the rights to future TERMINATOR films, TV series, spinoffs, etc. up for auction. The franchise received mild interest across the board but Sony Pictures (who handled the aforementioned international distribution for SALVATION) and Lionsgate were interested enough to place bids. Strangely, neither of them won.

The two studios who could actually make a new TERMINATOR film were outbid by Pacificor. Who? Exactly. They're a hedge fund based in Los Angeles and not quite coincidentally the same group that forced Halcyon into bankruptcy filings. Pacificor, which sounds like an evil corporation directly from a TERMINATOR film, is obviously not set up to produce or distribute any kind of movie so where does the franchise go from here?

Financially, it'll all get worked out in the wash. Sony Pictures was said to be infuriated by Pacificor's bidding and is probably walking away from the franchise wholesale. It's unclear if Lionsgate would be interested in working on some kind of deal but Summit Entertainment is reportedly interested in making a TERMINATOR film.

But you nor I are here because we love reading about how Hollywood executives make money. We're here because we love movies. And creatively TERMINATOR has a much larger struggle ahead of it.

I know McG is still out and about talking about his ideas for his new trilogy of TERMINATOR films but after SALVATION, do we really care about McG's vision? SALVATION largely ignored the film that came before it, RISE OF THE MACHINES, and if you bring in a new creative team, there's a big chance it will largely ignore SALVATION with a new storyline. And honestly if you're going to make a sequel that ignores the previous two sequels, I'm got a radical proposition: just nuke the damn thing and start from scratch.

The term "reboot" is the new "remake" in Hollywood and the latest trend in making movies (see DAREDEVIL, MR. AND MRS. SMITH, etc.). I normally wouldn't advocate something so cliched for a franchise so beloved but the cinematic TERMINATOR mythology has become so muddled the only way to make a creatively successful film at this point is to head back to Square One. Find yourself a writer and director who can map out a new trilogy of TERMINATOR films with a brand new film. A new T-800, a new Kyle Reese, a new Sarah Connor, etc. Think STAR TREK. That sounded like a horrible idea at first and Trekkies were up in arms but then look what happened - JJ Abrams is a genius and film was legitimately discussed as a Best Picture contender.

Think about it: a TERMINATOR film shouldn't cost that much money. Future sequels that delve a little deeper into Skynet could expand on the first, but if you're going to reboot TERMINATOR, you could do it at a relatively inexpensive price. Before it became about trying to come up with the craziest design for the latest Terminator robots, it was a really a small-scale character-based film wrapped in a neat, little action/sci-fi bundle. A studio out there could take a risk on the relaunch without much to lose financially. If it works, awesome! If not, could it really be any worse than SALVATION?

I know rebooting the TERMINATOR franchise is a radical proposition but desperate times call for desperate measures. I would never call for rebooting a property unless I really felt that all the life had been drained from the current iteration. And honestly another sequel would just dig us deeper and deeper into a hole that would be tougher to climb out of.

Extra Tidbit: If any of you say the words 3D, you're in big trouble.
Source: JoBlo.com

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