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Will you see Brendan Fraser's 'The Mummy 2' in theaters?

a) Certainly - I enjoyed the first one.
b) Depends on the trailers.
c) Nope - I didn't like the first one and probably won't like the next.

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Hollywood Spotlight - Editorial [Terminator: I'll Be Back... Maybe.]


Title: Terminator: I'll Be Back ... Maybe.
Focus: The Future of the Terminator Franchise.
Editorial By: Marc Flemming
Date: 5/29/2000

        O kay, Mr. Jimmy Cameron. Now that you’ve given us a sinking ship worth a billion dollars and some change (on the screen), the collective viewer agrees that it’s time for you to once again take up time behind the camera directing the man who most recently pummeled the bad Satan on the eve of the new millenium (yah, yah, yah - I know everyone has heard a million times over that it’s actually 2001). If you need us to put it bluntly, we will - we want another Terminator. Yes, Terminator 3 will do. We don’t care what you call it. Just get Arnold back in biker bruiser leather with a whole lot of mobile fire power, surrounded by enough explosions to put the combined world atomic bomb tests to shame. Oh, and yes - your ex-wife. Even though she might be a personal annoyance, she aids in completing the entire story, so her presence is welcome as well - unless, of course she should become a distraction leading to a sub-par film that makes Battlefield Earth look good. Yes, we don’t want that at all.

What’s that you say? There are problems in the land of futuristic android wars that interpret well to the big screen yielding millions of dollars for everyone involved? Because that sure isn’t good to hear.

Okay, let’s talk about it.

There’s good news and bad news. Unfortunately, the good news is short and without the really meaty details that are necessary to make it really good news, so it’s not that good at all. The original producers behind Terminator have said that they’ve begun the development work behind a Terminator 3 and Terminator 4. The bad news is simple. The fact of the matter is folks, that even while we all adamantly look forward to new Terminator films, which very well may come to fruition in the near future - the geniuses behind the previous productions that made the franchise what it is today - are really looking likely to skip out on the upcoming fun.

In a roundabout way - for lack of a better word, that possibility sucks. In fact, where the current rights for this franchise lie, Fox is nearly out of the picture, director James Cameron has turned his back and shunned the possibilities of working on another project under the current circumstances, and Arnold Schwarzenegger has clearly indicated that he won’t strap on the metal and rubber endoskeleton unless Cameron is on board. Put that all together and you have a formula that certainly doesn’t add up to what we were hoping for.

What possibly could have lead to all of this?

First a little background. Terminator dazzled many of us back in 1984. Nearly a decade later, the sequel, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, revolutionized the things we see in films today. Not to mention, the film grossed nearly $520 million and made several people much wealthier than they were the day before. So, now we’re pushing nearly another decade and still there is no word regarding a Terminator 3: Let the Riches Continue. In the public eye, the word may be mum - but, there has certainly been ongoing action behind the scenes. In fact, there's so much pitiful background action going on, that if the Terminator fanchise wasn’t so firmly planted in its Sci-Fi roots, I would begin to worry that the particulars of these behind-the-scenes circumstances might leak into future productions leaving us with a somber soap opera starring a worn down unemployed android. The particulars, of which we are about to discuss, are that bad.

Some time back, Carolco’s (studio that pushed Terminator forward) co-owner Mario Kassar’s spending habits drove the company into the ground which lead to eventual bankruptcy. Amongst Carolco’s assets was a 50% share to the rights of everything-Terminator with the other 50% belonging to the original producer and co-writer Gale Anne Hurd. On the other side of the court, Carolco’s other co-owner, Andrew Vajna, was amidst the liquidation of his public company Cinergi, a company that had its dollar fingers dipped in films like Evita, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and The Scarlet Letter. Vajna took his wealth with him, did not pass GO and instead drove directly to Carolco’s bankruptcy auction where he had his eye on something in particular. It would be at this auction that Vajna would purchase Carolco’s share of the rights to the Terminator franchise for $8 million. Vajna didn’t skip a beat and in turn purchased the remaining rights from Hurd for an additional $8 million. These events unraveled while Cameron and Fox were away minding the overseas release of Titanic in Japan.

So, regardless of who owns what, with all this set in place - why isn’t the Cameron / Vajna melting pot producing an A-class cuisine? Rumors will have it that of all things, there was a difference of opinion that occurred between the two over a lunch meeting back in 1997. Whatever the story might have been, Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment can vouch for something along these lines in a statement they made recently, “Jim is not now, has never been, and has no plans to be involved with Andy Vajna on Terminator 3.” Major bummer. Furthermore, Cameron never had much control of the situation after he sold his share of rights to Hurd back in the day when Terminator was still just a script. Yet, he sold these rights with one string attached - that he be the director should the script go to film. A lot of good it did then, but not a lot of good it can do now.

Cameron would love the opportunity to shoot another Terminator film, but he has avidly expressed that he would require full control over the production. He also stated that he wouldn’t get involved unless Fox headed the project, the studio he’s been actively involved with since 1992. There have been prior negotiations between Fox and Vajna, but these attempts at finalizing any sort of go-ahead project have lifelessly fallen through. Fox made one attempt at hammering out a deal shortly before Carolco’s bankruptcy with confidence that they would lock a deal down considering they had the key players. However, Vajna backed out while overwhelmed with his failing company, Cinergi, and the ongoing investigation into his and Mario Kassar’s income tax returns back in the 1980’s. Once again - while Fox and Cameron were battling icebergs for Titanic, Vajna grabbed the entire rights to the Terminator franchise without Fox even so much as making a bid. Fox and Vajna would give it another try again after the auction in 1999. However, any hope of reaching their goal was once again brought to a halt when Fox and Cameron discovered that Vajna and Kassar were making outside financing deals that would cause waves in Fox’s Germany and Japan distribution rights. Rumors then have it that Fox and Cameron shook hands and waved good bye one last time.

So, where does this leave you and I and our growing need for spectacular onscreen carnage accompanied by a star director’s innovation and a bigger-than-life actor’s lingering Austrian accent? Well, all things considered, it doesn’t look good. In fact, the options are clear and limited. There is no Arnold without Cameron. There is no Cameron without Fox. There is no Fox deal without the cooperation of Vajna and Kassar (now of C-2). Potentially, they could offer a big deal to Arnold, but it’s a high possibility that Vajna and Kassar will push forward with a low-budget Terminator 3 regardless of whether Arnold comes along for the ride or not. Another option for Vajna, should the circumstances arise, would be for him to sell the rights off to another big-name studio who has current deals with Cameron. While the odds of a successful ending don’t look good, when it comes right down to it, our only hope is that Vajna finds it within himself to keep from ruining a good thing.

Note: The preceding material contains content solely representative of the author's opinion. All opinions expressed within this document do not represent those of Psyphire Productions, Inc.. This material is for entertainment purposes only.

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