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A new chapter of the Terminator franchise will be told next month through Terminator: Dark Fate, which James Cameron helped make and serves as a direct sequel to The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day that reunites Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 with Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor. This movie lays the groundwork for a potential trilogy, but there’s something that could stand in the way of that happening: the Terminator rights reverting back to the writer of the original movie.
Currently Skydance Media holds the rights to the Terminator franchise, as the company’s founder, David Ellison, acquired the rights from his sister, Megan Ellison, who purchased them at a 2011 auction for $20 million. Now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Gale Anne Hurd, who co-wrote The Terminator, has moved to “terminate a copyright grant made 35 years ago.”
If Gale Anne Hurd is successful, this would result in Skydance losing the ability to make more Terminator moves starting in November 2020. Hurd would have a 50-50 split on the franchise rights with James Cameron, and if Skydance was determined to deliver sequels to Terminator: Dark Fate, it would need to renegotiate with both of the creators. If a new arrangement can’t be worked out, that paves the way for another studio to swoop in and take over the franchise.
Or maybe not. After the THR story was published, Skydance responded with the following statement, which Gale Anne Hurd did not comment about:
Skydance has a deal in place with Jim Cameron and controls the rights to the Terminator franchise for the foreseeable future.
Terminator: Dark Fate is the franchise’s second entry under Skydance, the first being 2015’s Terminator Genisys. That movie failed to critically impress and underwhelmed at the box office, thus killing any chances of Genisys getting a follow-up. Needless to say Skydance is hoping Dark Fate fares better with audiences, though even if it earns better critical reception, one would imagine Gale Anne Hurd’s efforts to regain half of the Terminator rights would complicate matters.
Skydance’s statement makes it sound like this won’t be a problem, so maybe a deal has been/is being worked out behind the scenes between the company and Gale Anne Hurd. Regardless, I imagine it’ll be after Terminator: Dark Fate’s release that the franchise’s… fate will look clearer.
It’s no secret that the last three Terminator movies aren’t anywhere near the level of quality as the original two, and Terminator: Dark Fate is looking to break that cycle. If it succeeds, then that improves the chances of Skydance getting to make more movies. If it bombs, then with this supposed deal in place with James Cameron, perhaps events unfold in a way that leads to the franchise being pulled from Skydance’s hands and taken elsewhere.
Terminator: Dark Fate (which also stars Natalie Reyes, Mackenzie David and Gabriel Luna) hits theaters on November 1. Don’t forget to look through our 2019 release schedule to learn when the rest of this year’s movies are arriving.