Megan Ellison Beats Out Lionsgate for TERMINATOR Rights

     May 13, 2011

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Lionsgate has missed out on the rights to The Terminator franchise again.  After losing the bidding war to Pacificor back in February 2010, the rights went back up for sale at Cannes and Lionsgate once again tried to grab the franchise.  But on Wednesday we learned that Megan Ellison, whose Annapurna Pictures had taken to backing prestige directors like Paul Thomas Anderson and Kathryn Bigelow, unexpectedly threw her hat into the ring.  Now Deadline is reporting that Ellison has won the bidding war and it’s a surprising film to add to her indie-dominated portfolio.  Hit the jump for more on Ellison’s other projects and my thoughts on her Terminator acquisition.

Keep in mind that she’s got a couple of the hottest projects going with Bigelow and Mark Boal’s film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden as well as John Hillcoat’s The Wettest County in the World starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Mia Wasikowska.  She’s already sold the rights to Paul Thomas Anderson’s untitled religious drama to The Weinstein Company and I’m sure an intense bidding war will ensue over the Bin Laden project which is slated to shoot in the fall.

So where does Terminator fit into Ellison’s plan?  Most are assuming that it’s a film to pay the bills because it has more mainstream appeal than most of the films that she’s producing.  However, Terminator is far from a surefire hit.  There hasn’t been a good Terminator movie in twenty years and after the disappointment of Terminator Salvation, I believed the franchise was in need in a reboot.  Instead, the property is doubling-down on Arnold Schwarzenegger even though Rise of the Machines only grossed $150 million domestic off a $200 million budget.  This is the same Schwarzenegger who didn’t have the box office clout to open Collateral Damage, The 6th Day, End of Days, or Jingle All the Way.  His last bonafide hit was 1996’s Eraser.  And yet the franchise is supposed to go back on his old shoulders?

I understand the need for Ellison to pursue a mainstream title like the Terminator franchise, but I think it’s a big gamble with Schwarzenegger back in the lead.

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