Just a couple weeks after we reported that McG was prepping Terminator 5, it appears that the film may be dead in the water. According to a number of sources, a proposed sequel to this year’s underwhelming Terminator: Salvation may be out of the question due to a legal dispute between The Halcyon Co. (which own the rights to the Terminator franchise) and Pacificor (a Santa Barbara, California-based hedge fund that helped Halcyon buy the franchise).

As explained in the L.A. Times, The Halcyon Co., which is headed by Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek, has filed two separate $30M lawsuits against the company (one against Pacificor and one against a former Pacificor employee).

What’s all the litigation about?

I’m glad you asked, because it’s a little complicated. The lawsuits stem back to April 2007, when Pacificor first issued Halycon a $30M loan to acquire the rights to Terminator. In December of 2007, Pacificor provided an additional $5M bridge loan to Halcyon. This month, Pacificor filed a lien against Dominion Group (a subsidiary of Halcyon, which is also operated by Anderson and Kubicek) for the $5M loan. According to Anderson and Kubicek, however, they don’t owe a penny. According to them, Pacificor filed the lien in a “desperate and deliberate attempt to seize ownership and control of the Halcyon entities and of the [‘Terminator’] franchise.”

Juicy stuff, right? The second lawsuit against former Pacificor Vice President Kurt Benjamin is even better. According to that lawsuit, Benjamin committed fraud by knowingly hiding the fact that he was working for Pacificor at the time he was negotiating with Anderson and Kubicek. By not disclosing his relationship with Pacificor, Benjamin was able to negotiate better terms for his company. Anderson and Kubicek also claim in their lawsuit that Benjamin encouraged them to invest in the production of a Terminator Salvation video game which would help ensure that the company “would not be able to meet its obligations and would therefore fall under the total control of Pacificor.” (Not very much faith in the video game, ay?)

The complaint also alleges, among other things, that Benjamin “blackmailed” Halcyon by forcing the company to pay kickbacks to close its various loans, that Pacificor CEO Andrew Mitchell demanded a $250,000 a year salary to serve on Halcyon’s board, and that fellow Salvation producer Moritz Borman intentionally forced the film over budget so the company would default on its loans.

What does this mean for Terminator 5?

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your opinion of Terminator), because of the lien against Dominion Group, Anderson and Kubicek have been unable to borrow money against their $7.5M producer fees for Terminator: Salvation to begin production on Terminator 5. In fact, according to Variety, T. Asset Acquisition (the Halcyon subsidiary which owned the Terminator rights) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Because the Chapter 11 filing comes only one day after Halcyon filed its two lawsuits, it seems like a pretty sure sign that the company will not retain the rights to the franchise.

Does this mean there will be no Terminator 5 ever? Of course not! It’s Hollywood, and in Hollywood there’s nothing better than a franchise. It’s impossible to speculate exactly when a Terminator sequel could come out or what it could be about until this litigation is resolved. However, assuming that Pacificor wins the rights to Terminator as collateral for Halcyon’s unpaid loans, there’s no reason to suspect that the company would not try and produce their own film. Even though Terminator: Salvation had a hard time finding an audience, the Terminator franchise still has strong value and it would be foolish for Pacificor to simply let it go to waste.

What do you think? Is there still hope for the Terminator franchise?

Source: Variety and L.A. Times