Since film producer Megan Ellison purchased the rights to produce two ‘Terminator’ films at the Cannes Film Festival this year, speculation was that the films would be fast-tracked. Ellison also attached hot director Justin Lin (‘Fast Five’) and the original “Terminator” Arnold Schwarzenegger to the films. But now, plans are to start production on the first film by the end of 2012. This has forced Lin to drop out because of his commitment to direct the sixth installment of ‘The Fast and the Furious’ franchise, according to Deadline.
Lin has left the door open to direct if Ellison and Schwarzenegger could push back the start date and he used the films signature phrase for emphasis, “I’ll be back”.
So why the rush to make this film possibly without Lin’s involvement? Director James Cameron, who created the franchise (with some help from author Harlan Ellison…no relation to Megan), assigned his rights in 1984. Under copyright laws, certain rights to ‘Terminator’ revert back to Cameron in 2018. So Megan Ellison’s $20 million rights have a time limit.
There’s also the fact that “Terminators” don’t age, but Schwarzenegger does. He also has a number of films he has committed to star in and if any of those are released and don’t do well before a new ‘Terminator’ film is finished a studio partner might want to drastically reduce the budget for an epic film like this.
If Ellison really wants to get this film started by next year, she has a huge uphill battle to win first. Rumors are that currently there isn’t a script or even a screenwriter let alone a fully developed idea to create a script. Supposedly Lin and Ellison want the films to end the battle between the humans and the cyborgs of Skynet. This battle is what fans have been waiting for since 1984, so if they make substantial changes from our expectations (hint T3 and T4), the box office results will reflect that disappointment.
Ellison also has another battle to be won…she doesn’t have a studio attached yet. And when she does attach one, the budget battle will just be beginning.