Our friends over at /Film picked up on a nice article in the LA Times delving into the recent auction of the Terminator franchise rights.
Earlier this week we reported that the rights to the Terminator franchise were ultimately sold to Pacificor - the same hedge fund that backed previous Terminator owners the Halcyon Group, and (allegedly) maneuvered Halcyon into its current state of bankruptcy (For details on how they pulled that off, go HERE).
Sony and Lionsgate - the two biggest bidders in the auction - were furious that Pacificor ended up with the rights, and went so far as to claim that the sale had been rigged in a backroom deal between Halcyon and Pacificor prior to auction.
Details about the auction in the LA Times stated that Sony and Lionsgate made a final joint bid of $36.5 million for the Terminator rights, but neglected a stipulation that said Halcyon would receive $5 million for any and every new Terminator sequel, to help the company pay off its creditors. Sony/Lionsgate then reportedly shifted their bid to $28.5 million, with a promised $5 million per sequel fee for Halcyon. Allegedly Pacificor beat that offer and won the auction.
Of course Sony and Lionsgate didn't take this ruling lying down and lobbied the judge claiming unfair process, to which the Judge, Ernest W. Robles, replied:
"I am sympathetic to call that this has been an unfair process... but I don't agree with it...What ultimately matters is a dollars and cents determination of what makes sense from the perspective of all the parties that have a significant amount of money at stake. That has happened here."
After failing to overturn the ruling, on Tuesday Sony and Lionsgate joined forces and sent representatives to negotiate with Pacificor, to see if a payoff wouldn't steer the rights into their hands.
Now here is the part you REALLY want to pay attention to:
According to the LA Times, the negotiations between Sony/Lionsgate and Pacificor were unsuccessful - however Pacificor, as a hedge fund, has no experience in actually making movies and would need to partner with a production company or studio to bring any new Terminator movies to fruition. This is probably the reason why Pacificor issued a statement after the meeting with Sony/Lionsgate, granting the studios a small window of opportunity to produce and distribute the next Terminator sequels - with Pacificor turning a pretty penny off all the hard work.
Said Wayne Flick, a Pacificor lawyer:
“We expect there to be a fair amount of interest...We know this is a very valuable franchise and, in the coming weeks, we will be considering all of the various options.”
Now I'm no big city lawyer, but this sounds a bit shady to me. Let's recap:
- Hedge fund bankrolls production company with movie biz ambitions.
- Hedge fund taxes and manipulates production company until said company is bleeding money from a main vein.
- Production venture doesn't go as well as expected; production company goes under.
- Hedge fund demands repayment - oh, no, wait! They'll take take on the franchise as payment, once they see some motivated (and experienced) buyers sniffing around!
- But it's all good - those motivated and experienced buyers can still work the franchise into a viable assesst and make some dough for themselves - so long as the big money comes back to the hedge fund, of course.
Nope, I'm no big city lawyer - but I have spent some time in the streets, and this is a clear case of pimpery if I've ever seen it, I'll tell ya what...
In other dramatic Terminator news, T4 director McG also lost out this week: his right-of-first-refusal deal with Halcyon (which would ensure he had first crack at directing any new Terminator films) was shot down - i.e., Pacificor doesn't have to honor it. The judge stated that McG can file a claim against Pacificor if they don't tap him to be the director of the next Terminator flick, but that's about it.
So what is the future of the Terminator franchise now? Hell if I (you, a psychic or even god) know at this point - but Screen Rant will keep you posted!
Is this Pacificor deal seem shady to you? Are you cool with it if it means McG is out of the director's chair?
Discuss with me on twitter: @ppnkof