After months of speculation over who would become the new owner of the Terminator franchise, we finally have an answer. And it isn’t the studio you think it is.

Last we reported on the auction for the rights to any Terminator movies, TV shows and any spin-offs, Sony (who handled international distribution on Terminator Salvation) put in a bid that tried to top Lionsgate’s minimum bid of $15 million (plus 5% of future gross receipts). The bankrupt company that owned the Terminator rights, Halcyon Group, valued them at around $70 million but needless to say they didn’t get that.

Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood has the scoop that the Terminator rights auction has ended after a marathon bidding that lasted from 3pm to 8pm yesterday. So that’s five hours of “I have $16 million, do I hear $17 million?! $17 million in the corner, do I hear $18 million?!” Boring and exciting all at once!

Deadline Hollywood reports that after bidding separately for a while, Sony and Lionsgate teamed up after the first round was completed. A Lionsgate insider said, “We’re going to fight one hell of a fight.” But neither Lionsgate nor Sony ended up walking away with the rights; instead, in a questionable move Pacificor – the hedge fund company that sponsored Halcyon’s purchase of the rights and ultimately pushed them into bankruptcy – walked away with the rights to Terminator. Apparently, the result caused Sony Pictures Entertainment’s president of worldwide affairs, Peter Schlessel, to “storm out” of the auction building.

"This auction has been Terminated."

The Terminator rights ended up going for less than half of the valued price, selling to Pacificor for $29.5 million. Sony and Lionsgate dropped out at just under that price when they realized that, “Pacificor was willing to pay almost any amount of money for Terminator.” Halcyon will still get $5 million in revenue from every Terminator movie made in the future and still retains the revenue source from the third and fourth movies in the franchise.

Supposedly, Halcyon’s debt to Pacificor and the rest of the creditors is now wiped clean because of the sale. Of course, this is all going to be approved or disapproved at the bankruptcy court when it’s presented to the judge at a hearing set for Thursday. You can read more details (including the background of who has owned the rights when) over at Deadline Hollywood if you’re interested.

The fact that Pacificor won the auction is kind of surprising, not to mention highly questionable. It feels a little like they were watching from the sidelines while Halcyon was in the middle of an important game, distracted Halcyon before an important touchdown and caused them to lose the game. And now that Halcyon is out of the game, Pacificor snuck in and made its move, blocking other studios with its determination to own the rights. How’s that for an analogy from a non-sports fan? :P

Putting aside who owns the rights for a second, all of us fans can now expect to hear word of where the franchise is heading pretty soon. Will Pacificor reboot it again, effectively pulling an Incredible Hulk by pretending the last movie doesn’t exist? Or will it continue on with the war with the machines that we saw only a part of in Salvation? And will McG be back to direct? His idea, we once heard, was to abandon the future war and travel back in time once again to present day. Personally, since we’ve already done that three times I’d prefer to see the current future war story continue on. Enough with that time travel business already…

Perhaps Lionsgate would have been the best studio to snag the rights, as an insider said the studio’s plan was for, “a complete reboot, back to basics, with real emotional stories, and effects that will be secondary.” Will Pacificor follow that plan? Time will tell.

What do you think of Pacificor being the new owners of the Terminator franchise (keeping in mind that Pacificor helped bankrupt the former owners)? Which direction would you like to see the next Terminator movie go in?

Source: Deadline Hollywood