Four months after leaving the California governor's mansion, Arnold Schwarzenegger is signed on to star in a fifth Terminator movie for director Justin Lin (Fast Five).But it's still unclear where the money for the project will come from.
The Terminator character isn't owned by one of the studios. Santa Barbara hedge fund Pacificor bought the rights to the property at bankruptcy auction in 2010 for $29.5 million. Before that it had been at Halycon, which bought it from Carolco Pictures, the independent studio that went bankrupt in 1995 after sustaining huge losses on Showgirls and Cutthroat Island. Deadline's Mike Fleming says Creative Artists Agency is handling the sale of the rights package, and that Universal, Sony and Lionsgate, and CBS Films are all interested. According to Fleming, CAA is asking for "at least $25 million up front, against a purchase price of $36 million," numbers that don't account for Lin or Schwarzenegger's salary. Translated, that means whoever makes the film is going to be $36 million in the hole before the star and director get paid or a single scene is shot. While recent installments have done well overseas, there are signs American audiences are lukewarm about the franchise. 2008's Terminator Salvation cost $200 million, but only grossed $125 million domestically. 2003's Terminator 3 made $150 million in the U.S. but also cost $200 million.
Schwarzenegger announced his quasi-return to acting earlier this month with the unveiling of a new superhero, The Governator, which he will voice for an upcoming animated television series and 3-D feature. Lin was first mentioned as a candidate to direct an Arnold-free fifth Terminator film--possibly starring Vin Diesel--in February. In a Fast Five junket interview with film blog Collider earlier this month, he expressed enthusiasm about the idea--but only if the original star was on-board. "I feel I have a take that I would love to see, and I've talked with Arnold and we've talked and we'll see," said Lin."Again, I would love to do it but it has to be the right circumstances."
Apparently Arnold's comfortable. As recently as three weeks ago he was trying to choose between director Antoine Fuqua's The Tomb or Kim Ji-Woon's Last Stand as his comeback project. Now he's jilted both for an old favorite.