Megan Ellison Enters Bidding War with Lionsgate for TERMINATOR Rights

     May 11, 2011

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Producer Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures have entered a bidding war with Lionsgate over the rights to the Terminator franchise.  As you may recall, Ellison previously has set her production company to backing smaller films with acclaimed directors like Paul Thomas Anderson’s untitled religious drama and Inherent Vice, and Kathryn Bigelow’s hunt for Osama Bin Laden film.  It looked like Lionsgate was going to win the rights with a bid yesterday, but Deadline reports that Ellison has submitted a higher amount even though she doesn’t have a distributor locked in (although it’s probably not too difficult to find a studio willing to distribute a Terminator film).

Hit the jump for more on this potential deal.

arnold-schwarzenegger-terminator-photoLionsgate has been attempting to get the rights to Terminator for years.  Back in February 2010, hedge-fund Pacificor beat out a combined bid from Lionsgate and Sony after previous rights-holder Halcyon went bankrupt.  Now those rights are back up for grabs, and it’s interesting to see Ellison try to take over the franchise.  With Arnold Schwarzenegger poised to return and Fast Five director Justin Lin at the helm, it’s not a bad franchise to bet on, although I still remain unconvinced that Schwarzenegger is still a box office draw.  Deadline speculates that Ellison may be fighting to get Terminator 5 because it may give her a better chance at recouping on her investment than say a movie about a World War II vet who starts a religious cult with an alcoholic drifter as his right hand man.

Whoever gets the rights will still have to face another issue: in 2018, the rights revert back to James Cameron unless a new deal is made.  Cameron hasn’t shown much interest in returning to the franchise so it’s possible that he’ll just sign a new deal that will give the winner of the bidding war an extended lease on the property.  Even if he changes his mind, there’s still time for a production company to churn out at least two more Terminator movies.  The question is after the past two disappointments, does the public even want them?

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