'Terminator' Rights Poised to Head to Paramount With Ellisons Producing (Exclusive)

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'Terminator' Rights Poised to Head to Paramount With Ellisons Producing (Exclusive)
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'Terminator' Rights Poised to Head to Paramount With Ellisons Producing (Exclusive)

Paramount Pictures is in negotiations to acquire distribution rights to the next "Terminator" movie that is being produced by Megan Ellison's Annapurna Pictures and David Ellison's Skydance Productions, an individual with knowledge of the project has told TheWrap.

Paramount, Skydance and Annapurna had no comment.

The "Terminator" franchise is one of the most recognized entertainment titles that has not been successfully tapped since James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger turned it into a global blockbuster franchise.

Also read: Megan Ellison, Brother David Team on Next 'Terminator' Film, Close Rights Deal

There hasn't been any public movement on the "Terminator" franchise since January, when Paramount-based Skydance and Annapurna hired Laeta Kalogridis ("Avatar") and Patrick Lussier ("Drive Angry") to write the next installment in the sci-fi series, though no details regarding its creative direction were reported.

"Fast and Furious" filmmaker Justin Lin was originally attached to direct "Terminator 5" but Ellison intended to start production in December 2012, forcing him to depart the project in September 2011 in order to finish "Fast and Furious 6." However, he did leave the door open for a possible return in the event that production was delayed.

Schwarzenegger was also expected to return for the end of the battle between Skynet's cyborgs and Earth's surviving humans.

Also read: Ex-'Terminator' Arnold Schwarzenegger to Play Exterminator in 'Toxic Avenger' Remake

Megan Ellison spent more than $20 million to acquire rights to the "Terminator" series in May 2011, which comes with a ticking clock attached, as new copyright laws allow for North American rights to revert back to creator James Cameron in 2019, 35 years after the original 1984 movie.

In December 2012, Megan Ellison enlisted her brother David as her financial and creative partner on the project. While Megan has excelled making well-reviewed dramas such as "Zero Dark Thirty" and "The Master," she doesn't have much experience producing big-budget blockbusters, which happen to be David's specialty.

Not only has he made his mark with the most recent installments in Paramount's "Star Trek" and "Mission: Impossible" franchises, but he also exec produced the studio's upcoming tentpole "World War Z," which despite early bad buzz stemming from production troubles, has been getting solid reviews in advance of its June 21 opening.

McG directed WB's 2009 sequel "Terminator Salvation," which grossed $371 million worldwide but topped out at $125 million in the U.S. By contrast, 1991's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" earned $519 million worldwide ($204 million U.S.), while 2003's "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" took in $433 million worldwide ($150 million U.S.).

Those figures indicate that domestic interest in the series has waned despite the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger and "Salvation's" casting of Christian Bale and Sam Worthington.

Production on "Terminator 5" could start as soon as next year, though the Ellison siblings will have to find a director first, though that shouldn't be too hard.

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