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Exclusive : The Terminator 5 that might have been

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Come with me if you want to… lay dormant.

It’s essentially non-news, and for those that closely follow the film careers of imported bodybuilding types designed by Cybernet Industries you won’t be surprised by the update here, but the oft-rumoured “Terminator 5″ seems to be now off. According to a contact inside the agency that was on packaging duties on the sequel, there might not be one.

Whether it’s because of the expense involved in putting a new ‘Terminator’ movie together (and the risk that comes with that – “Terminator Salvation” can attest to that), a script that works for everyone involved, or the heavy schedules of Arnold Schwarzenegger and attached director Justin Lin (“Fast Five”), or all those things, it’s a project that’s definitely been put on pause.

But the concept that was being discussed? It was a goodie – even if JJ Abrams might have been owed 10% upon it’s execution.

“There isn’t really one”, I was told over email this morning, when inquiring about the progress on “Terminator 5″. “[No] numerous reasons”, it was added, when asked whether it was because of the poor performance of “Terminator Salvation” that might have hindered production on the film.

“Arn never really committed to one anyway. All those projects he’s apparently doing – Twins, Commando, Terminator – aren’t real yet; not while he has script approval. He wants a T5 that’s script is a lot better than ROTM. Isn’t one yet. Reason Lin’s not currently on it.”

The script struggle is “one of the reasons Justin Lin went back to Uni[versal]; he needed to eat in meantime”. (Fair enough too!)

We’re told that two or three years ago, when Lin and Schwarzenegger was both concerned with getting the film done, there was a great concept that linked up to T1 that involved time travel to alternate dimensions. The concept “would’ve centered on an alternate timeline in which Sarah Connor, Kyle Reese lived” (as far as I could gather, that interchanging timeline storyline, that would mean the cast of the original film – Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn could reprise their roles.) “But there’s no movie at the moment, thus no locked-in script.”, we’re reminded again.

But that concept does fit with what director Justin Lin told Moviehole shortly after securing the director’s job on “T5″- that he would like to somehow resurrect Sarah Connor.

Said Lin, ” I mean, Sarah Connor is such a big part of the franchise, you know. Yeah, I mean I’ve always been surprised how in part 3 she was just like… It was like one line and she was gone….Yeah, like leukemia and… But I think the great thing about this franchise is you have… You can actually have different canons because you have the element of time travel. So, there’s a way of kind of respecting all the works but also able to create a new time line.”

Sounds like the idea that was definitely on the cards involved rebooting the franchise – a’la “Star Trek” (2009) – and putting the focus back on those original three characters, the Terminator, Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese.

Pity they couldn’t crack that script.

Aside from the script, rising producer Megan Ellison (“Foxcatcher”, “The Boy Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”, “Zero Dark Thirty”) has the rights, and “has her hands full”, with other projects; Schwarzenegger has about three years of committed projects to get through; Justin Lin went back over to Universal to make more “Fast and Furious” movies, and nobody’s willing to pay for a movie with a huge figure attached to it at this stage – especially if Schwarzenegger’s not that interested at present.

The only two names, if they stick to that suggested concept aforesaid (I like it?!), that would be ready and willing to go (likely) on this project now would be Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton, but greenlighting another “Terminator” movie with only those names on a call-sheet , would be as foolish as doing a spin-off with a computerized Arnold. Oh yes… that’s right.

Might be more chance of Schwarzenegger reprising Conan at this stage, by sounds.

Ellison paid a pretty penny for the “Terminator” rights though, I don’t see her just storing them away in a top drawer somewhere until they expire. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if – like Lionsgate are doing with “The Expendables” and CBS are doing with the “Beverly Hills Cop” franchise – they use the title in the name of a new series of some sort.

Personally, I do hope to see another “Terminator” – if only so the series can end on somewhat of a higher standard than the McG-lensed “Salvation”.

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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