Here’s another one of those “Why Can’t We All Get Along?” Hollywood lawsuits. You may recall that, on May 9, rights to The Terminator series as well as the screenplay to T4 passed from producers Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar to the privately funded Halcyon Co, formed by entrepreneurs Victor Kubicek and Derek Anderson. Halcyon was preparing T4 for a Summer 2009 release in what the producers hoped would become a new trilogy. Well, today Halcyon’s T Asset, the corporation formed to make the pic, filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing MGM of “wrongful and malicious threats to disrupt T Asset’s absolute right to negotiate with other motion picture studios regarding the distribution of T Asset’s planned production and distribution of the fourth sequel in the highly valuable Terminator franchise.”
MGM claimed that it acquired through the 1990s bankruptcy proceeding of Orion Pictures (the distributor of the 1984 original) the right to an exclusive 30-day first negotiation with respect to the distribution of T4. So negotiations between MGM and T Asset began may 31st over lunch at Houston’s eatery in Century City and dragged on until no agreement was reached by June 29th. T Asset said MGM’s 30-day exclusive negotiating period is expired as a reault. MGM said no way. An all-out legal brawl broke out, culminating in the current lawsuit.
Among other things, T Asset in the lawsuit is claiming that MGM has been telling the media “falsely” that it will distribute T4 as a tentpole central to plans to reinvent itself as a major studio. T Asset also accuses MGM of including the projected economic success of T4 in pro forma economic projections that MGM is using in its current efforts to raise substantial amounts of equity and/or debt financing for the company. Oops! T asset is seeking a judicial declaration that either MGM holds no contractual rights of first negotiation with respect to T4 or any future sequel in the Terminator franchise, or else T Asset has fully and completely satisfied any enforceable contractual rights of first negotiation that MGM might hold. The studio just issued this statement: “MGM is completely comfortable with its rights position on the Terminator franchise, and we will not allow anyone to interfere with our rights.”
So what’s the juiciest nugget from this rather dry lawsuit? That on June 14, MGM offered to commit almost $200 million for T4‘s production and P&A expenses. Yikes! Of course, T3 did make $150 million domestic, and $283 mil foreign, for a worldwide total of $433 mil. But that production also boasted Arnold Schwarzenegger for continuity. And I’m assured that The Governator isn’t involved in T4 despite what nonsense you may have heard. If he was, aging Arnold could only be cast in the role of a Terminator retiree sitting in front of the TV in a Barcalounger stuffing himself with pretzels and beer.