For a while it looked like Justin Lin was about to become involved with multiple blockbuster franchises, seeing how he was set to helm not only Fast and Furious 6, but also Summit’s Highlander reboot and Terminator 5 – not to mention, he was among the filmmakers previously shortlisted as potentials to direct Die Hard 5.

Lin ultimately passed on the fifth Die Hard, left Highlander (which now has a new director), and is pressing ahead full force with the sixth installment in the Fast and the Furious series. However, that move has also forced him to abandon his Terminator duties… for the time being.

Deadline has learned that Annapurna Films head Megan Ellison – who secured the rights to the Terminator brand, earlier this year – and franchise stalwart Arnold Schwarzenegger are eying a late 2012 start date for production on the fifth installment in the man vs. machine/sci-fi series.

With Fast and Furious 6 locked for a Summer 2013 theatrical release, that means Lin will be in the midst of post-production on the film, during the fourth quarter of 2012 – and thus, he would be unavailable to helm the fifth Terminator movie.

However, Terminator 5 has only entered the preliminary stages of pre-production at this point. Seeing how Ellison has yet to either hire on a screenwriter for the project – or secure a financial partner – there’s no guarantee the film will be ready to begin principal photography before Lin wraps up his work on the next Fast and the Furious flick.

So – to use an appropriate pop cult reference – Lin may be back… and could end up helming the fifth Terminator flick, when all is said and done.

Speaking of “being back” – Schwarzenegger is clearly in a rush to get back to work and revive his action movie career, seeing how he has The Expendables 2, The Last Stand, and Terminator 5 – not to mention, possibly Captive – on his to-do schedule for the next year or so. It’s possible then that Ah-nuld may ultimately decide to not wait for Lin to finish his other filming commitments – and recruit another director to replace him on the new Terminator movie.

Earlier reports indicated that Schwarzenegger and Lin have by and large been the only ones creatively involved with the fifth Terminator picture so far. However, Deadline says that the franchise’s original creator, James Cameron, has been unofficially involved in “a brainstorming meeting or two” for the project. That should be welcome news to longtime Terminator fans who weren’t so impressed with the third and fourth entries in the franchise – neither of which involved Cameron in any significant capacity, creatively speaking – and are hoping that the fifth installment gets the series back on track.

Those who enjoyed Terminator: Salvation – and were hoping to see the post-Judgement Day storyline of the film further developed – may be disappointed, though, seeing how Terminator 5 looks to instead tear the timeline (re: change the continuity) of the series yet again.

The idea of just fully rebooting the Terminator franchise actually seems like an odd one – simply because the series has primarily been about characters (both human and machine) seeking to change/reboot the order of their world. Since it’s all but assured that there will be future installments – at least, until the rights to the Terminator franchise revert back to Cameron, in 2018 – one has to wonder what the better approach would be: Completely rebooting the Terminator continuity (beyond what even J.J. Abrams did with Star Trek) or attempting to actually progress the convoluted overarching storyline of the series, without resorting to further fractures as a result of the time travel plot device.

We will continue to keep you posted on the status of Terminator 5 as more information is released.

Source: Deadline