EXCLUSIVE: Although Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures started the process on reviving the Terminator franchise, she has divested herself financially of involvement in the final two or three pictures that will now be solely financed by her brother David Ellison’s Skydance and Paramount Pictures. This has been confirmed to me, and I’m told she will retain an executive producer credit. No one was specific about how the funding of the films will be handled, but I’ve heard that Skydance will now fund 66%, and Paramount will pay for the rest. Others say this has not been determined, as the film is now being budgeted.
Coupled with a changeover at the top of her sales company Panorama yesterday, it might seem that Megan Ellison is tapering off. I don’t believe that’s the case. Even when she took control of The Terminator franchise when she paid $20 million or more to acquire the rights at auction around the time of Cannes 2011, this property was an anomaly for her. Her heart is in taste-maker auteur-driven fare, and she has become a patron saint of prestige films that might not otherwise get made. That is what she will focus on. Her efforts include recently named Best Picture nominees American Hustle and Her, last year’s Zero Dark Thirty and The Master, and the upcoming Bennett Miller-directed Foxcatcher.
For her brother David, Terminator: Genesis and possibly two other films to wrap up the storyline are right in his wheelhouse. He’s at home co-financing and producing large-scale popcorn pictures, and this one fits right in with his other franchises: Mission: Impossible, Star Trek and World War Z. Both of the Ellison siblings confirmed this has happened.
“Skydance Productions focuses on elevated event-level film making and the relaunch of this iconic franchise is a perfect match for our company,” said David Ellison. “I am very confident in our top-notch creative team and the material driving this project. I’m grateful to Megan, who will remain involved as an executive producer, and for initially bringing the Terminator franchise to us. I look forward to our continued creative partnership as we prep for production in April.”
Said Megan Ellison: “We have been working closely with the filmmakers and have the utmost faith in their abilities. We love this project and the direction it is going in, but for now Annapurna’s primary focus is to produce independent films. As I am staying on as executive producer, I am looking forward to working closely with David and Paramount to make a film that will live up to the brands’ legacy and one that I know audiences will love.”
Most of the casting has been done for Terminator: Genesis, with Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his signature cyborg, Game Of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke playing Sarah Connor, and Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jason Clarke playing John Connor. They are in the midst of setting an actor to play Kyle Reese for the time-travel tale that is being directed by Thor: The Dark World helmer Alan Taylor.