Much like its killer robots can travel through time, the Terminator franchise is traveling between studios. The initial film of the franchise, 1984’s The Terminator, was from the now defunct Orion Pictures while 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day was released by TriStar pictures and the inevitable Terminator 3 and Terminator Salvation were distributed by Warner Brothers. Over the last several years, the rights to the franchise have bounced around between a couple of parties, eventually coming into the hands of producer Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures.
Now Paramount Pictures is in negotiations with Ellison for the rights to distribute a fifth Terminator film that she is in development on with her brother David Ellison’s Skydance Pictures. According to The Wrap, who broke the story, Paramount, Annapurna and Skydance are all not commenting.
Ellison acquired the rights to the Terminator franchise in May 2011. Since her production experience lay more with smaller-budgeted films like Zero Dark Thirty and The Master, she turned to her brother, whose production company has handled such big budget tentpoles like Paramount’s Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises and the upcoming World War Z.
In January it was announced that Laeta Kalogridis (Avatar) and Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry) had been hired to provide the screenplay for a fifth installment. It’s not known what direction the story will go in, but it probably won’t pick up any probably won’t be picking up any of the plotlines left dangling at the end of Terminator Salvation.
The Wrap also notes that Ellison and Paramount are under the gun to the get the film made as “new copyright laws allow for North American rights to revert back to creator James Cameron in 2019, 35 years after the original 1984 movie.”
But I have to wonder of if there is really much appetite for a new Terminator film. The franchise hit its height with JUdgement Day which pulled in $519 million worldwide. But since then, the franchise has been seeing diminishing returns with Terminator 3 only pulling $433 million worldwide and Terminator Salvation earning $371 million worldwide. Similarly, the television spinoff Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles started off with strong ratings but was struggling for viewers by the end of its second, and final, season.