Could New Indie Financier Megan Ellison End Up With 'Terminator' Rights?

And, just like that, I'm interested in a Terminator movie once more. An auction is going on now in which the rights to produce a new Terminator film are changing hands (yes, again) and LionsGate was emerging as the presumptive winner. But now Annapurna Pictures, the production company run by Megan Ellison, is trying to outbid the little lion.

Why is this a big deal? It might not be. But Megan Ellison has emerged as a recent savior for big indie prestige pics. She's paying for Paul Thomas Anderson's new one, Kathryn Bigelow's Kill Bin Laden and John Hillcoat's The Wettest County in the World, and helping fund Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmasters. The Terminator doesn't seem like the type of movie her company would go for at all. So what gives?

The obvious conclusion is that Annapurna is looking to make a film that has some guaranteed return, and The Terminator, especially with Arnold Schwarzenegger on board, might easily fit that bill. The particulars of this rights sale are complicated because of the long, tangled legal history of the Terminator franchise, but Annapurna seems to be making a very serious reach for the brass ring.

One reason this is interesting to me is that I tend to assume that a Terminator film produced by Annapurna will be more free from 'creative committee' decisions that would take place if a company like LionsGate made it.

That's no guarantee that that it will be a quality film, by any means. Some of Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent decisions suggest that he's one of the last guys you want throwing his weight around for a movie like this. And Justin Lin could make this one go either way, too. He is turning into a good action director, but I'm not a fan of his Fast/Furious movies in the way many others seem to be. But because those movies are made from a pretty strict template, I don't want to assume that he'll turn out the same type of movie under the Terminator banner.

Looking at the other movies the company backs, Annapurna making the movie would seem to increase the chance of the film being good by at least a slight margin. I'll take that. And if the company makes money on a Terminator film, and can consequently fund more risky projects, I'll also be happy. Annapurna doesn't have any distribution deal in place for the Terminator film it might soon have the rights to make, but it seems like that shouldn't be difficult to sort out.

It's worth noting, too, that the Terminator is one of the only major film franchises that has pretty much always been an independently-controlled property. Studios have made deals to distribute the films, but the rights have typically been held outside of studios. So Megan Ellison picking up The Terminator would make perfect sense in the context of the franchise. [Deadline]