It’s taken somewhat longer than expected, but Terminator 5 is moving closer and closer to becoming a reality. Annapurna Pictures head Megan Ellison (Zero Dark Thirty) secured the rights to two more Terminator movies back in 2011, and the project recruited new screenwriter earlier this year; then, less than a week later, Arnold Schwarzenegger was confirmed to return to the sci-fi franchise that helped to put his name on the map (and vice versa) nearly 30 years ago.
Paramount in now on the verge of acquiring the Terminator 5 distribution rights, with Annapurna Pictures producing alongside Skydance Productions (which is headed by Megan’s brother, David Ellison). Negotiations are expected to result in a deal, so that means the next important step will be to lock down a director.
The Wrap, which has the exclusive on this story, has pointed out that Fast & Furious filmmaker Justin Lin previously dropped out as director on Terminator 5 because (at the time) the film was supposed to begin production in late 2012; that presented a conflict with post-production on Fast & Furious 6, so Lin bowed out while leaving the door open for his possible return. James Wan is taking the helm on Fast & Furious 7, which means there’s a chance that Lin could end up calling the shots on Terminator 5 after all.
The Terminator franchise rights will revert back to James Cameron in 2019, which is part of the reason why filming on Terminator 5 could begin as soon as early 2014; that is, because that start date would leave room for a sixth installment to be made. Nothing is set in stone right now, though, seeing how the sci-fi property isn’t exactly in peak shape after Terminator Salvation (which grossed $371 million worldwide despite a tepid reception from critics and fans alike).
[UPDATE: The Arnold Fans is reporting that Schwarzenegger has said that "Terminator 5 starts filming early 2014," which lends credibility to The Wrap's claims.]
However, there are some factors to consider, as far as the prospect of Terminator 5 infusing new life into this tired series. For one, Cameron participated in a few brainstorming sessions for the project – back when Lin was involved – and his input may help with the creation of a more compelling narrative (compared to the last two Terminator movies). Similarly, the current Terminator 5 script draft is being written by Laeta Kalogridis (the Bionic Woman pilot) and Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry); that could result in a film with a healthy balance of thoughtful sci-fi content and horror genre elements, similar to the original Terminator movie.
Lastly, if Lin does choose to climb back aboard the Terminator 5 ship, that would boost confidence in the film – based on how Lin managed to resuscitate and evolve the Fast & Furious franchise, beginning with Tokyo Drift. (Could he do the same for Terminator?)
We’ll keep you up-to-speed on the Terminator 5 situation as more information becomes available.