I think the word "Oops" is the only thing to say with regard to the PR nightmare descending over Hannover House and Red Bear Entertainment - following the announcement they'd be producing a $70 million animated Terminator film, titled Terminator 3000.
There’s just one problem: Terminator rights holder Pacificor, LLC wasn't contacted and wasn't too happy to hear that a new Terminator project was announced without their approval.
Pacificor, LLC has sent a swift cease and desist letter to Hannover House and Red Bear Entertainment stating:
“We recently became aware through various online media reports that Hannover House, purportedly a division of Target Development Group, Inc. (“TDGI”), entered into a purported feature film development venture with a Vancouver based entity, Red Bear Entertainment, for “Teminator 3000” an animated feature film based upon the characters introduced in the original Terminator movie.
This knowledge came as a surprise to Pacificor. It did not license or authorize any such development or film. Indeed, it has not been contacted by Hannover House, TDGI, Red Bear Entertainment or anyone else seeking such a license or approval.
While some of the reports we have seen mention that Pacificor “retains approval and licencing authority...” over the proposed project, a reasonable inference drawn from the reports is that such approval has been obtained. Otherwise, why would the “development deal” have been entered into in the first place and why would the reports mention a proposed January 2011 start date for production?”
So where has the confusion come from?
Hannover House CEO Eric Parkinson was once in charge of the home video division of Hemdale (who made the original Terminator) and allegedly part of his settlement (when he left the company) were certain rights to the Terminator franchise.
Parkinson told Deadline:
"The animation rights were excluded when Hemdale sold Terminator to Carolco and when I left Hemdale, part of my settlement was that I got those rights. However, the way the rest of the contractual rights are written, it would be dangerous for us to do this without Pacificor's approval. They have certain intellectual rights. The best way to put it is, they can't make an animated film without me, and we might not be able to make it without them. We are in discussions with WME (the agency in charge of the rights), and hope we can deal with this expeditiously."
Parkinson also asserted that the only reason a press release was even announced was because one of the potential production partners spoke publicly about the film.
Where does this leave Terminator 3000? It leaves it in limbo until Parkinson, Hannover and Red Bear can make a deal with Pacificor. At this point it could go either way - because it would appear that Pacificor intends to continue the live action cinematic adventures of everyone’s favorite time travelling android and, according to a spokesperson, “isn't looking for another project beyond what's envisioned as two or more live action feature films that continue the apocalyptic adventures hatched by James Cameron.”
However, Parkinson remains hopeful that a deal will be reached:
"We've arranged a meeting, we'll show them our money and if the rational brain prevails, they'll take the deal. If not, I can't do it without them. You'll have a follow-up next week that we are either holding hands, or not doing the film. At least we now have our meeting. I hope they will can think outside the box, because if we can make a movie that delivers a $20 million to $30 million rights payment, that is an income source they didn't realize was possible. If not, it was a good idea anyway."
Pacificor, may be slightly miffed that the Parkinson and Co. decided to move in on their baby which could leave Terminator 3000, and subsequently Parkinson, out in the cold.
At the very least you have to admire Parkinson for trying to put together such a deal – and even more so in raising $70 million for a 3D animated film that audiences weren't asking for (and may or may not be interested in) - as the franchise has an untested animated brand.