New ownership means another run
There won’t be a role for Arnold Schwarzenegger. James Cameron will not be the director.
But at least one new Terminator (the fourth) seems destined to hit screens now that its feuding fathers, Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar, have been bought out.
The cyborg saga belongs to the Halcyon Co., which has purchased all rights to the franchise from Kassar and Vajna for an undisclosed amount.
Halcyon, a privately funded company hatched recently by entrepreneurs Victor Kubicek and Derek Anderson, acquired the right to produce “Terminator” films, future merchandising and licensing ventures.
The beachhead of the venture is “Terminator 4,” which has a script by “T3” writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris. Moritz Borman, the former CEO of Intermedia Films and exec producer of “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” will produce. Kubicek and Anderson will co-produce, and former PolyGram Films marketing president Peter D. Graves will be executive producer and oversee marketing of the picture.
Though no director or cast has yet been secured, “Terminator 4” is being earmarked for a summer 2009 release. No deals have been made for distribution or financing, but there are pre-existing negotiating positions for MGM and Japanese distributor Toho Towa, each of whom was involved in “T3,” a film that grossed more $430 million worldwide.
“The Terminator franchise represents by far the most popular and successful franchise not owned by a major studio,” Kubicek said. “We see this global franchise as a cornerstone of Halcyon’s future business plans.”
The new backers see “T4” as an attempt to reinvent the franchise with new cast and plotlines, ploys that worked for Batman and James Bond, and is being attempted with “The Incredible Hulk,” which has Edward Norton as its new star.
The “T4” script, which has been kept under tight wraps, picks up with John Connor in his 30s leading what’s left of the human race against the machines. It is being seen as the start of a new trilogy.
“With ‘T3,’ we included many incidental details and plot points that, along with the main narrative, set the stage for an entirely new set of interrelated stories covering the future adventures of John Connor and the Terminators,” Borman said. “This new Terminator trilogy will build upon the already huge worldwide Terminator fan base.”
Halcyon’s Anderson was founder and creative director of the boutique marketing and ad agency In the Mix, which he sold in 2000. Kubicek comes out of finance, and also produced Halcyon’s first film, “Cook-Off!,” which screened at the HBO Aspen Comedy Festival.
Kassar and Vajna bought the rights to the “Terminator” franchise from the bankruptcy sale of Carolco assets. They made a later deal with Gale Anne Hurd, who owned many of the rights, and to whom Cameron signed over his rights, for $1, with the guarantee that he would not be replaced as director on the first film.
The “Terminator” franchise is already looking alive and well on the small screen.
Nothing’s official yet, but Fox is said to be very impressed with “The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” a Warner Bros. TV-produced hour based on “Terminator” characters and mythology. It could be ordered to series as early as this week, some believe.
The C2 partners get exec producer credits on the pilot, but people familiar with the project said they’ve essentially taken a passive role in the day-to-day production of the David Nutter-helmed pilot. It’s possible that, with the C2 camp getting out of the “Terminator” business, their stake in the show will simply transfer to the new owners.
(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)