'Terminator Salvation' producers sue investors, could lose franchise rights
Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek, producers of Warner Bros.' and Sony Pictures' May release "Terminator Salvation," have filed a pair of $30 million lawsuits: One against Santa Barbara hedge fund Pacificor, which loaned them money to buy the rights to the science-fiction film series, and another against a former employee of Pacificor who helped arrange the loans.
The suits come as the Halcyon Company, owned by Anderson and Kubicek, has been attempting to raise money to keep operating their company, according to several people familiar with the situation.
The duo also is in the early stages of development on a fifth "Terminator" film, two people familiar with their efforts said.
If they don't prevail in the suit or raise enough money to pay back Pacificor, however, they may not get the chance to make another movie. According to the complaints, the hedge fund may end up taking control of the "Terminator" rights, which served as collateral for its loans.
Anderson and Kubicek have been involved in numerous lawsuits during their three-year career in Hollywood, during which "Terminator" is the only film they have produced and released. Previous legal opponents have involved investors, a "Salvation" producer, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. (For more details, see this previous story from the Times.)
The suit against Pacificor involves a dispute over a $5-million bridge loan that the hedge fund made to Halcyon in December 2007 after it had provided a $30-million loan in April of that year to buy the "Terminator" rights. Earlier this month, Pacificor filed a lien against a separate company owned by Andersion and Kubicek called Dominion Group through which they were to be paid for their producing duties on "Salvation."
Anderson and Kubicek claim in the suit that they did not owe money on the loan under the terms of a February settlement and that Pacificor filed the lien in a "desperate and deliberate attempt to seize ownership and control of the Halcyon entities and of the ['Terminator'] franchise."
Pacificor's lien, the complaint states, has prevented the pair from borrowing against the money they are owed for their producing services on "Salvation," a payday estimated in the Benjamin lawsuit to be worth more than $7.5 million.
"We haven't seen the lawsuit, however, we do not believe we have done anything wrong," said Andrew Mitchell, CEO of Pacificor. "We believe we have the right to put a lien on the Dominion assets."
The second lawsuit, filed against Kurt Benjamin, a former vice president of business development at Pacificor who helped facilitate the loans, paints Anderson and Kubicek as a pair of relative naifs who were pushed into financial ruin by Benjamin, Mitchell and "Salvation" producer Moritz Borman.
It alleges that Benjamin hid that he was working for Pacificor and represented himself as an independent agent to negotiate terms favorable to his employer. It claims he encouraged Anderson and Kubicek to unwisely spend Halcyon's own funds on production of a "Terminator Salvation" video game "so that it would not be able to meet its obligations and would therefore fall under the total control of Pacificor."
Benjamin, the complaint alleges, demanded and received numerous payments from Halcyon to close its various loans, payment that the lawsuit refers to as "blackmail." Pacificor CEO Mitchell, meanwhile, allegedly demanded to be paid $250,000 per year to serve on Halcyon's board.
"The allegations in the Halcyon lawsuit are false and without merit," Benjamin said when reached for comment. "I intend to refute these claims through the legal process and will file suit against Halcyon, Dominion, Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek."
The suit also claims that Borman offered Benjamin and Mitchell bribes to foreclose on the franchise and sell it to a buyer group that included him. Although Borman is not a defendant in the suit, and Halcyon settled a dispute with him this year over producing fees he claimed to be owed, the new complaint alleges that he intentionally pushed "Salvation" over budget to force Anderson and Kubicek into further financial distress so they would be unable to pay back their loan to Pacificor and he could eventually buy the asset.
Asked to comment, Borman replied, "I have no idea what they're talking about."
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek (second and fourth from the left), with "Terminator Salvation" producer Jeffrey Silver, left, and director McG, third from left.