[Update: Pacificor LLC, the Terminator franchise rights holder, has halted production on Terminator 3000 - citing numerous rights violations.]
The good news is that there is a new Terminator movie on the way.
The bad news is that it’s an animated 3D spin-off from the franchise titled Terminator 3000 and not a live-action sequel to the films which originally starred Arnold Schwarzenegger or the Sam Worthington/Christian Bale mash-up in last year's Terminator Salvation.
Will the Austrian Oak er... be back?
Hannover House and Red Bear Entertainment plan to go into production on the $70 million budgeted Terminator 3000 in January 2011 and they hope that the animated film will have a PG-13 rating (calm yourselves Terminator fans). It’s believed that the 3D film will also pick up after the events of the 1984 original film which also starred Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn, although at this early time details are very sketchy. The news more or less puts the final nail in the coffin for a live-action cinematic sequel to McG's third sequel from last year.
It’s not unlikely that Schwarzenegger will offer his services for his voice or his likeness, but I’d imagine that this might be a tad on the pricey side as Schwarzenegger was allegedly paid over $100 thousand to record an audio commentary for Total Recall (and $35 million for his appearance in Terminator 3). To do this might swell the budget, unless they’ve already factored that into it.
They could also go the route of the many Terminator comic spin-offs, The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Terminator Salvation and introduce different models of Terminator. However, considering that fans didn’t have much love for the Schwarzenegger-less television show and sequel, then it might make more financial sense to stump up the extra cash.
Over the last 25 years the Terminator franchise has been on a slippery slope of quality, mainly due to issues with the rights of the franchise. Indie outlet Hemdale produced and distributed James Cameron's original film in 1984 however, they in turn sold the rights to the Carolco where Cameron made Terminator 2. In 1994, Caroloco went bankrupt following the legendary flop Cutthroat Island and the rights were sold off to Halcyon Media. In January Pacificor, LLC picked up the franchise rights in an auction and they are now overseeing this new Terminator story.
I feel that the Terminator franchise has lost its way without the stewardship of Cameron, with each successive franchise entry being more lacklustre than the last. The Sarah Connor Chronicles television series had some decent moments in its two seasons and T3 has a few good set pieces alongside a brave ending, but again I feel that the brand has been cheapened with too many people willing to try and rinse every penny from the name. While the brand may still have some strength, I feel those controlling the rights have been unable to see what Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron brought to the franchise and the name. Without them, the original (and its sequel) could have been any sci-fi action film, however, the stars aligned in the correct configuration and an iconic character was created and two classic films were produced.
Sure, Terminator 3000 could work. In animation they’d be able to bring technology and epic action on a scale that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to the screen for a fraction of the price – but don’t forget that what makes the first two Terminator films so special is the story, the characters and then the effects. Something that people seem to be forgetting.
In the past, Cameron has stated that he no longer has any interest in the Terminator property, so it’s highly unlikely that he’d get involved. I do hope that Schwarzenegger is involved in some capacity. Although god forbid they get a vocal impersonator to conduct vocal duties over the Austrian actor's image. That would just be too much!
We’ll be back with more news on Terminator 3000 when we get it.