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Sony Pictures bidding against Lions Gate for 'Terminator' rights

February 4, 2010 |  5:05 pm

T3Next time the Terminator is back, it may be from Sony Pictures.

The Culver City-based studio will make an offer by the end of the day, when bids for rights to make future movies in the 26-year-old action franchise are due, people familiar with the process said.

In addition, production and animation company Threshold Entertainment is seriously considering a bid, one person close to the process said, pending the resolution of issues with its financial partners.

Lions Gate made a so-called "stalking horse" bid last month of $15 million and 5% of future revenues for the rights to make future "Terminator" movies.

As part of the process submitted to the court by Halcyon Group, the bankrupt production company that owns the rights and financed last year's "Terminator Salvation," any bidder that goes up against Lions Gate must offer at least $15.95 million. 

If any buyer other than Lions Gate ends up with the rights, it must pay the independent studio a breakup fee of $450,000.

[Update, 6:43 p.m.: A previous version of this post said that the minimum amount of a new bid was $16.25 million and the break-up fee for Lions Gate is $750,000. In fact, according to a person close to the process, Lions Gate's break-up fee was reduced by the court to $450,000 and minimum bid is $15.95 million. The previous version also incorrectly said that a new bidder must match Lions Gate's offer of 5% of future "Terminator" revenues on top of a cash payment.]

Sony and Threshold both have histories with the franchise. Sony distributed "Terminator Salvation" and 2003's "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" internationally. Threshold's chief executive, Larry Kasanoff, was previously president of Lightstorm Entertainment, the production company controlled by "Terminator" and "T2: Judgment Day" director James Cameron.

Warner Bros., which distributed "Salvation" and "Rise of the Machines" in the U.S. and Canada, is not bidding, a person close to the studio said.

It's still possible that other bidders could swoop in by the end of today.

FTI Consulting, which is handling the sale for Halcyon, will hold an auction in its offices on Monday for all potential buyers. There will then be a hearing on Wednesday at which a bankruptcy judge must approve the sale.

A potential logjam in the process is Pacificor, the Santa Barbara-based private equity fund which claims to be owed more than $30 million by Halcyon. According to people close to the process, Pacificor is attempting to submit a "creditor's bid" that covers the amount it is owed and forces any other buyer to pay more. If there is no offer higher than the creditor's bid, then Pacificor could end up owning the "Terminator" rights.

Halcyon disputes that it owes Pacificor that much, however, so it is unclear whether the bankruptcy judge will allow the private equity fund to have a say in the process.

--Ben Fritz

Times staff writer Claudia Eller contributed to this report.

Photo: Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines." Credit: Reuters.

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