Terminator Terminated?

In case you haven't heard by now, Deadline Hollywood has reported that the rights for the Terminator franchise have been acquired by the Santa Barbara-based hedge fund Pacificor, which out-bid both Sony Pictures and Lionsgate to the tune of $29.5 million. While io9 has subsequently reported that Pacificor is in talks with Sony and Lionsgate about future installments of the Terminator franchise, the overall future of this time-travel epic is still quite uncertain.

Personally, I don't see this as a bad thing. Don't get me wrong--I'm a rabid, drooling fan of all things Terminator, largely due to the fact that the idea of futuristic killer robots (especially ones that wear human flesh like cheap suits for the purpose of infiltration) never gets old for me. I loved Terminator Salvation, particularly because it had some of the best Skynet machine designs since Atari's Terminator 3: The Redemption video game in 2004. Furthermore, the ending where Skynet--while wearing the face of Dr. Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter)--explains to Marcus (Sam Worthington) why he's the perfect Terminator, while the prototype T-800--which looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger had just walked right out of the first Terminator film from 1984 and into the fourth one in 2009--terrorizes puny humans just gave me chills up and down my nerd spine.

Then again, if I ruled the world and had oodles of money to burn, I'd love to see the production crew of the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show wrap up all the loose ends from the season two finale. Heck, TSCC executive producer Josh Friedman could scribble down all of his ideas for season three on a used cocktail napkin and I'd pay top dollar for it right now.

Alas, I don't think Terminator will be going anywhere for a long while (if at all), and I think that's a good thing. It's not that the franchise is out of ideas; it just lacks a consistent, designated caretaker to nurture the franchise to proper maturity and conclusion (and of course, merchandising). At the current state it is in, a caretaker is the last thing it will get--all the more reason for Terminator to either lay low or not "be back" at all.

I've long noticed how entertainment companies of late have been treating franchises less as works of creative storytelling and more like real estate to develop (and then demolish and re-develop, ad infinitum), but putting an entire franchise up for the highest bidder is pretty degrading and I doubt it will get any better. It's bad enough that Jim Cameron lost the creative rights to Terminator in the first place; it has since gone to Carolco, then to Halcyon, and now to Pacificor (a hedge fund, of all things). I can't possibly see how this is a good thing. Even if it had gone to Sony or Lionsgate, things wouldn't have been much better. Lionsgate was considering a full reboot of the franchise, so I shudder to imagine what Sony had (has?) in mind.

I could be wrong. Maybe Pacificor, Sony and Lionsgate could come up with the best time-travelling killer robot movie and/or TV series ever made. We'll see. Besides, if the Pentagon and Congress get their way, we'll be seeing aerial Hunter-Killer drones deployed all over the world in the near future anyway--much like they are now in the Middle East. By that point, horribly mishandled movie/TV franchises will be the least of our worries. Yay us!


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