Her credits include Avatar, Shutter Island and Alexander, produced White House Down. Lussier scripted Wes Craven’s Dracula and directed My Bloody Valentine. Skydance’s David Ellison recently hired the scribes to write an original scifi adventure film, with an idea initiated by Skydance. Megan Ellison paid a fortune for the rights several years ago, and recently teamed with brother David, whose company finds big ticket action films like Terminator to be in its wheelhouse. David, who just produced Jack Reacher, had the relationship with the scribes, though interestingly Kalogridis also is tight with Terminator creator James Cameron. Megan Ellison is in the thick of the Oscar race with Zero Dark Thirty and The Master.
EXCLUSIVE: Nearly 18 months after Megan Ellison pledged over $20 million for the rights to finish The Terminator‘s humanity vs the Skynet cyborgs storyline with a new series of films, she has finally closed the complicated rights deal with Pacificorp. Other than the fact no progress has been made all this time on a script, the surprise here is Ellison has enlisted her brother, David Ellison, to be her financial and creative partner. There is still no studio attached, but future Terminator films will be done as a co-production between her Annapurna Pictures and his Skydance Productions. The Ellisons will produce, while Dana Goldberg, Paul Schwake and Ted Schipper will be exec producers.
Even though Pacificorp spent $29.5 million several years ago to win the rights after Halcyon turned them over to bankruptcy court, insiders tell me that the big numbers in place 18 months ago have been adjusted downward. That is because of the uncomfortable specter of a ticking clock that has continued to wind down as no forward progress was being made. New copyright laws allow for North American rights to The Terminator to revert back to creator James Cameron in 2019 (that happens after 35 years, and The Terminator was 1984). While that law hasn’t been tested in the courts, no major film company would want to move forward on a project with a potentially catastrophic rights crisis looming. So the original pricey deal — made with the expectations there would be three films — was scaled down because the reality is they might only get to make two installments. Four films have been made so far, the first two directed by Cameron, another by Jonathan Mostow and the last, 2009′s Terminator Salvation, helmed by McG.
EXCLUSIVE: Things are starting to move on The Terminator franchise, but a plan by rights owner Megan Ellison and Arnold Schwarzenegger to put the first of two pictures in production for the fourth quarter of 2012 has forced director Justin Lin to drop out. But borrowing the film’s signature phrase “I’ll be back,” Lin has left the door open to a return if Ellison and Schwarzenegger will wait until he completes the sixth installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise.
The Terminator franchise has been under the radar since Ellison’s Annapurna Films spent over $20 million to buy film rights during the Cannes Film Festival, with Lin and Schwarzenegger attached. Lin wants to make the film but simply won’t be available, the same situation that prompted him to withdraw from Summit’s Highlander. Lin has been working closely with Schwarzenegger and Ellison to figure a way to end the James Cameron-hatched battle between humans and the cyborgs of Skynet. It would require some effort for Ellison to get the film underway by late next year. She hasn’t got a script and I don’t think she’s even hired a screenwriter yet. She also hasn’t set a studio partner, even though several are interested.
Lionsgate, Megan Ellison In Battle For ‘Terminator’ With Arnold Schwarzenegger And ‘Fast Five’s Justin Lin
EXCLUSIVE: A high-stakes battle is being waged for the right to relaunch The Terminator, with Fast Five helmer Justin Lin attached to direct and Arnold Schwarzenegger attached to reprise his signature role in one of filmdom’s most iconic franchises. Yesterday, it looked like Lionsgate would win the property with an outright purchase, with an upfront payment of at least half of the $29.5 million that Pacificor spent to claim the property in a bankruptcy auction. That was until Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Films came in with a bid that was higher. They are now fighting it out. As she usually does when she commits to a film, Ellison is staking that amount without having a distributor locked in place.
As Deadline revealed late last month, CAA brought out the package to the town, the first real activity on The Terminator project since February 2010, when the property emerged from a bankruptcy auction and into the possession of Pacificor. While there were several dealmaking scenarios offered, including an option and first dollar gross fees, it’s understandable why an outright purchase would be most attractive to the rights holders.
The Santa Barbara-based hedge fund posted a bid of $29.5 million, with the promise that additional multimillion-dollar payments for each film would go to Halcyon, the company that made the 2009 McG-directed Terminator Salvation. That’s a lot of money to lay out for an extended period of time, with interest costs rising.
I’m told that the deal will close shortly, and that the project could become another hot Schwarzenegger title at the Cannes Film Festival market that’s just getting under way. It would be the third Schwarzenegger movie there. Lionsgate also has Schwarzenegger in the action film The Last Stand, set up as the English language debut of Kim–ji-Woon. Schwarzenegger is also at the center of a QED-funded project that Schwarzenegger is also attached to star in, Cry Macho. Lionsgate has long been interested in extending the James Cameron-created universe of Skynet, John and Sara Connor, and the indestructible cyborgs. In fact, when Halcyon ran out of money and went into bankruptcy, Pacificor beat out a combined bid by Lionsgate and Sony planning to make back-to-back sequels to bring the franchise to a natural creative conclusion.
‘Terminator’ Back With Arnold To Star: Schwarzenegger In Package Shopping Now; ‘Fast Five’s Justin Lin To Direct
EXCLUSIVE: He’s baaack! Arnold Schwarzenegger is attached to star in a rights package that CAA is shopping today that will revive The Terminator, one of Hollywood’s most iconic scifi franchises. The agency is dropping the package on studios this afternoon. I’m told that already, Universal, Sony and Lionsgate, and CBS Films are looking hard at the package. There is no screenwriter attached at this point, and Robert Cort is producing. This is the first real activity on The Terminator project since February 2010, when the property emerged from a bankruptcy auction and into the possession of Pacificor. The Santa Barbara-based hedge fund posted a bid of $29.5 million, with the promise that additional multimillion-dollar payments for each film would go to Halcyon, the company that made the 2009 McG-directed Terminator Salvation. That film starred Sam Worthington as the cyborg and Christian Bale as John Connor, and the storyline launched the battle between Skynet and the human survivors of the apocalypse, the war foreshadowed in James Cameron’s visionary 1984 original film. Halcyon wanted to make several films but ran out of money. At the time of the auction, Pacificor beat out a combined bid by Lionsgate and Sony planning to make back-to-back sequels to bring the franchise to a natural creative conclusion.
While many felt at the time that Pacificor overpaid and that Lionsgate and Sony would have been better matches for the material, CAA has chosen an optimum time to seek a new deal. I wrote back in February that Universal quietly was trying to arrange for Lin to be helmer of the project. At the time, some turned up their noses. Given the strong international grosses being racked up by Fast Five and the expectations for a strong domestic opening this Friday, Lin has a lot of heat. And Schwarzenegger is looking to recapture past marquee glory ending his run as California State Governor. Schwarzenegger has circled several projects including Last Stand for Lionsgate, but here, he’s the star, returning to the signature role that once established him as the world’s biggest movie star.