About a month ago I wrote about how the Terminator franchise rights were up for grabs now that the company who owns the rights, Halcyon Co., has filed for bankruptcy. Well, the rights to the beloved sci-fi franchise are now officially on the auction block and we already have a wild opening bid that’s making news.

The man behind the bid? Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and  Dollhouse.

According to the LA Times, The Halcyon Co. hopes to have the Terminator rights sold off by January, 2o1o, if only to start recouping some of the money they lost on the failed venture that was this summer’s Terminator Salvation (that title suddenly holds a lot of irony, doesn’t it?). There is also the possibility that Halcyon will hop on a “stalking horse,” which is basically a motivated buyer who bids early (and high enough) to have the property put on hold while the buyer then performs full due diligence on said property. To boil it even further down into layman’s terms: If some high-pockets out there thinks there is enough juice left to be squeezed out of the Terminator franchise, they’ll pay to be able to look deeper into just how much money they can make off it.

Sony and Warner Bros. are being floated as the studios circling the property right now, as is independent studio Summit Entertainment (the Twilight guys). But studios are not the only ones interested, apparently; rich guys from the private sector “…have expressed strong interest” said Kevin Shultz, senior managing director of FTI, Halcyon’s hired financial advisors.  Ironically enough, one of those private sector guys making an early bid is none other than Joss Whedon, who in the last 24 hours posted a whopping $10,000 bid for the Terminator rights on fan site whedonesque.com, sparking off rumors galore.

Since that initial “bombshell,” Whedon has explained his out-of-left-field bid to Entertainment Weekly:

“Here’s the thing: It’s not a slam on The Terminator. I love The Terminator. That part’s totally true. I was thinking to myself, ‘Not since they auctioned off frames from The Little Mermaid have I wished I had more money this much. So you know what, never hurts to ask.’ I loved the movies, even the later movies. I loved the mythology. I loved the TV show [The Sarah Connor Chronicles]–like, really loved. Not for pretend. And not just because of [star] Summer [Glau].”

The most surprising thing I read in that quote is that Joss Whedon is actually a fanboy for The Sarah Connor Chronicles – that show certainly didn’t do any favors for the first season of Whedon’s Dollhouse last year!

Needless to say, I’m sure The Halcyon Co. will get a better offer than Whedon’s for the Terminator rights – but wouldn’t be cool if by some chance Joss Whedon became the master of the Terminator universe (or would that be more of a disaster)?  Anyhoo, Halcyon bought the rights for $25 million and now figures their worth – after all the great, great, work they did on Terminator Salvation :-| – to be up around the $60 million range. Whoever nabs said rights gets to call the shots on how any other sequel films or TV spin-offs will go down (hopefully far removed from McG’s terrible plans for T5), and will inherit whatever money can still be squeezed out of Salvation when it hits DVD in December.

Do you have a strategic business plan for who should hold the rights to the Terminator franchise? Should it be a studio or an independent investor who just has that much love for the series?

Sources: LA Times, Entertainment Weekly