Director Justin Lin is on the verge of bailing on his second film project in as many months. Mere weeks after exiting Summit's Highlander remake, the Fast Five director is pulling out of a planned fifth installment of the Terminator franchise, Deadline reports. Producer Megan Ellison and star Arnold Schwarzenegger intend to start shooting on the first of two Terminator films in the fourth quarter of 2012, a date that conflicts with Lin's schedule for Fast & Furious 6. Lin offered a caveat, however, indicating that he'd gladly return if Ellison and Schwarzenegger are willing to hold off until he's fulfilled his F&F commitments.
A 4Q 2012 start date sounds perhaps a bit unrealistic for Terminator 5, as Deadline reports that "hasn’t got a script and I don’t think she’s even hired a screenwriter yet. She also hasn’t set a studio partner, even though several are interested."
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I will remember Friday, May 13th 2011 for the rest of my life as the day that a rich girl stole the rights to one of Hollywood's most prized franchises from a major motion picture studio. Megan Ellison, daughter of Oracle co-founder and CEO Larry Ellison and brother of David Ellison (who shares her interest in showbiz and collaborated with her on True Grit), has emerged victorious in the battle for the film rights to The Terminator franchise, reports Deadline.
The news is a fourth-quarter shocker, as Lionsgate nearly sealed the deal before an eleventh-hour bid from Ellison became an offer that hedge-fund Pacificor (the company that took the rights to the series from Halcyon in 2010 after the less-than-stellar returns on 2009's Terminator Salvation) couldn't refuse. Details are still coming in, but the source claims that the final sale price could've hit $20 million, which is a bit less than the $29.5 million that Pacificor paid.
Business aside, this is a major victory for fans of the franchise. Though her pockets run DEEP, Ellison has invested mainly in prestige pictures that never guarantee a payback in the long run, including the Megan Fox-starrer Passion Play which went straight to DVD. The one exception thus far is Grit, which pulled in massive box office on a $38 million budget. Her upcoming slate represents the high standard of quality she demands of projects with her name attached, including John Hillcoat's The Wettest County in the World, Andrew Dominik's Cogan's Trade and Paul Thomas Anderson's untitled religious drama. So the fact that she's just invested in The Terminator means that the the series could finally return to the level of intellect and general awesomeness that the original film and its first sequel boasted.
The rights package was purchased with Justin Lin (Fast Five) and Arnold Schwarzenegger attached, and Ellison could very likely follow the rumored plan to finally bring the franchise to an agreeable close with two back-to-back films that would lead to a natural conclusion to the story of man vs. machine. No writer has been hired yet, and that upcoming decision will probably be a major factor in determining what we can expect from The Terminator in the coming years.
Remember when There Will Be Blood made a decent amount of money and scored a bunch of Oscar nominations, making you think that you wouldn't have to wait another five years for the next Paul Thomas Anderson movie? Well, Universal Pictures shot that plan to hell when it passed on the filmmaker's next effort, but persistence is key and the auteur decided The Master was going to get made one way or another. Now, he's finally got a deal to make the $35 million religious drama (which is now untitled) happen and his cast is already coming together.
Deadline reports that Harvey Weinstein purchased global rights to distribute the film, with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix set to star. The story follows a man who returns home after witnessing the horrors of WWII and tries to rediscover who he is in post-war America. He creates a belief system which catches on with other lost souls, one of them being Phoenix's character. Early reports pegged the picture as a pseudo-exploration of the origins of a Scientology-like religious movement, a fact that gave Universal the jitters. The Weinstein's, however, have never shied away from controversy and decided to step in. The production is now eying a June start for a late 2012 release.
Aside from the fore mentioned male stars, Anderson is said to be looking at actresses including Madisen Beaty, Amy Adams, Laura Dern and Lena Endre for roles - any one of them would increase the prestige of the project tenfold, but my guess is that the young Beaty would play an earlier version of Adams' proposed character (though with Superman gearing up for its June shoot, I'm doubtful the Oscar-nominee would be able to commit to the picture). Megan Ellison, through her Annapurna Pictures company, is fully financing the risky indie, a job she's becoming more and more recognized for (she has saved a handful of independent features that couldn't find funds anywhere else, including John Hillcoat's The Wettest County In The World and Andrew Dominik's Cogan's Trade). Commercially, this film will either be a modest hit, like the majority of Anderson's films, or a massive failure. But one thing is certain: cinephiles have something excitingly shocking to look forward to next year. There's a reason it takes PTA as much as five years to make his movies; they are thoroughly thought-out and painstakingly executed. Every shot will be poetic and every line of dialogue will be a masterpiece. Hello, 2013 Oscars...