Sony Pictures and Lions Gate in talks for ‘Terminator’ rights with private equity fund (updated)
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The behind-the-scenes battle for rights to the ‘Terminator’ franchise has gotten as cutthroat as the killer robots from the action movies.
Following a contentious auction last night in which private equity fund Pacificor won the right to make future ‘Terminator’ films, Sony Pictures and Lions Gate Entertainment are now in talks with Pacificor to jointly take control of the property.
According to several people familiar with the process who asked for anonymity because the talks are private, the two studios joined together to bid for the rights last night against Pacificor. However, the private equity fund prevailed with an offer of $29.5 million. Pacificor also agreed to pay Halcyon Co., a production firm that owns the ‘Terminator’ rights and filed for bankruptcy last August, an additional $5 million per movie for any sequels. [Update, 11:40 a.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly said the bid was $5 million for up to three sequels.]
Pacificor’s so-called ‘credit bid’ would erase the disputed debt owed to it by Halcyon.
With no experience in the entertainment industry or ability to produce sequels itself, however, Pacificor is now engaged in discussions with Sony and Lions Gate to handle future ‘Terminator’ films. The parties are still working out potential deal terms.
If those talks aren’t concluded amicably, the people said, Sony and Lions Gate may file objections to the way the auction process was handled Wednesday at a bankruptcy court hearing, which is intended to approve the sale.
If the hearing goes smoothly, Pacificor may leave with its debt resolved and Sony and Lions Gate with the opportunity to make more ‘Terminator’ films. Halcyon would be in a stronger position to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and return to the movie production business. If all doesn’t go well, however, there’s no telling when and with whom the Terminator will be back.
-- Ben Fritz