Producer: Don't Give Up On The Sarah Connor Chronicles!

Illustration for article titled Producer: Don't Give Up On The Sarah Connor Chronicles!

Like the embattled resistance against Skynet, fans of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have refused to surrender. They've rented a mobile billboard for the canceled Fox show this week. And now producer James Middleton tells io9 there's reason for hope.

Advertisement

The Sarah Connor Chronicles went off the air last May, and seems unlikely to come back to television. But fans have become increasingly focused on the idea that the show could have a direct-to-DVD movie sequel. The show's creator and showrunner, Josh Friedman, told us back in May that the show was over, and unlikely to be revived.

But fans have kept clamoring for a direct-to-DVD continuation. So we decided to ask producer James Middleton (who also produced Terminator Salvation) if there was any hope whatsoever that fans might get their wish. Have there been any meetings about a direct-to-DVD sequel, or other continuation? Middleton responded via email:

The quick answer is, yes, there have been many discussions. I can't go into more detail about the subject until I have something truly substantial to report. What the fans should know is that I hear them and I too would love to see T:SCC come back in some form.

So it sounds like there's reason to hope after all. At least, the reference to "many discussions" sounds encouraging, as does the notion that Middleton may actually have something "substantial" to report at some point. So fingers crossed!

And here's a better look at that mobile billboard, which drove around near the Warner Bros. studio offices for three days this past week:

DISCUSSION

sjedwards-old1
SJ_Edwards

Sadly, because he's clearly well regarded by the writers, cast and crew of TSCC, it doesn't matter a damn what James Middleton, any other employee of The Halcyon Company, or indeed Warner Brothers have planned at this point.

Halcyon borrowed the best part of $50m, starting from 2007, to finance the initial acquisition of the Terminator rights from the wreckage of C2 Pictures(excluding only those rights held by Warner Brothers in regards to TSCC (whatever those might be)) and wasn't able to pay it all back or borrow more to keep going, prior to or after, the lacklustre box office debut of Terminator Salvation.

Hence the Chapter 11 bankruptcy (and flurry of preemptive lawsuits) on the 18th of August.

This bought them enough leeway to delay the Salvation DVD launch (their next primary revenue point) from the initially announced TSCC DVD launch, last tuesday (the 22nd), until the much more productive pre-Christmas gift 'window' of December 1st. This gives them the chance to market Salvation as a Christmas 'Event Film' DVD, rather than try and market it on its 'merits' (not something, any rational person would want to try and do, after 'word of mouth' and internet had killed it at the box office).

Even after the better performance of Salvation at the overseas box office (due primarily to a much younger, less discriminating and demanding demographic in those markets (and the merciful opacity, to them, of the 'plot' and 'script'. Lucky them.)), it is nowhere near breakeven and doesn't realistically stand a chance of getting there, even after the DVD launch.

So, as soon as the court decides, that it is no longer in the interests of the creditors, to allow Halcyon to continue as a going concern (the majority of the income is in) and that there is no prospect of securing further investment (hah!), it will be sold off intact (hah! again) or liquidated and the assets sold.

That means the Terminator rights.

Pacificor (Halcyon's original Santa Barbara hedge fund backer) has a lien on them.

But that doesn't really matter, as the court won't give them preemptive priority, if someone comes in and makes an offer for the rights and pays off their secured loan (estimates of the remaining sum owed to them are in the region of $20-25m).

And if no one does, this franchise [sorry CJ :( ], is dead for as long as the court cases take (3 to 6 years at the worst).

It's really down to whether Warners has taken (or will take) a strategic decision (post the DC internal control change), to pony up sufficient funds to make a clean purchase (paying sufficient of Halcyon's debts to satisfy the blocking creditors).

That's going to be at least $36.5m, an awful lot to justify when you look at the diminishing returns from T1 to T2 to T3 to Salvation and their colossal, rising 'tentpole' budgets. To put it in perspective, Salvation's budget was $200m (+p&a), TSCC was 31 episodes, at $2.7m an episode for the first season and $3m for Season 2. A TSCC theatrical movie would likely be in the range of the $35m that Firefly cost (not a commercial success) or $18-22m for a direct-to-DVD.

Warners decided to play the waiting game (why wouldn't they?) that would have taken it into next year, before having to make a definitive decision.

As usual (like last time, in 2007) they've planned themselves out of doing the deal. The stock market rally has topped (this week) and will follow the oil price back down to its March lows, the dollar drop is starting to accelerate and the credit markets have started to tighten again in anticipation of the rescue liquidity tap being turned off (and as usual, with impecable economic timing, Al Qaeda is promising exciting times to come).

Come January, nobody in Warners (or any other studio, for that matter) will be spending this kind of money on a depreciating asset. "What about Disney's $4bn purchase of Marvel?", I hear you ask. Well that was a long term strategic purchase, at a price that had to meet the desires of a single large controlling minority shareholder. It was the very definition of 'Calling the market top'. As Is this. It's just that nobody can pull the trigger on this one now, and when they can it will be too late.

Unless you see an announcement of the rights changing hands, in the next ten days, it ain't going to happen.

Tragic.