No major film franchise has been owned by as many people as the Terminator series. The future of the franchise was called into question recently when current owners Halcyon were forced to file for bankruptcy, but as a new piece in the LA Times points out, rights shuffling almost seems like standard operating procedure if you’re in the Terminator business.
Halcyon Holding Group’s Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek bought the Terminator rights in 2007, paying $25m for the privilege of making Terminator: Salvation.
The Terminator rights had been split prior to 1997, with Gale Anne Hurd owning 50% and a variety of companies owning the balance at different times. In 1997 former Carolco producers Mario Kassar and Andrew Vajna unified the rights by purchasing the stake from the bankrupt Carolco as well as Hurd’s half. Then, ten years later, they sold the total package to Halcyon. But despite the relative success of Salvation ($370m worldwide — never suspect that questions of Hollywood accounting aren’t to be taken seriously) Halcyon couldn’t pay back money borrowed from a hedge fund called Pacificor to make the Terminator purchase. (Halcyon claims they only owe $4m to Pacificor, which claims it is owed $32m.)
Because the Terminator rights are Halcyon’s chief asset, they’ll be the primary item sold to cover the debt. Anderson and Kubicek now claim the package is worth $60m, or twice what they paid two years ago.
So, two things. First, the Terminator series is one of the only major film series in Hollywood not owned by a major studio. (Star Wars is another.) But this sale could put rights in the hands of a studio like Warner Bros. or Sony, which would put an end to the series’ independent prospects. And finally, if you’re concerned about whether or not there will be another Terminator movie, rest assured there will be, sooner or later. (A fifth film is in development, though things are moving slowly.) The only question is from whom.