'Terminator' Rights May Go To Top Bidder Lionsgate

"Terminator Salvation" was a bit of a letdown. The myth of John Connor had long since been established by the three previous movies, and the writing in the latest just didn't support what fans had come to know. Instead of a charismatic natural leader inspiring a revolution, we got a gruff, brooding Christian Bale and a story that focused mostly on a robot suffering through an identity crisis.

The movie wasn't a dismal failure, not with $372 million in worldwide ticket sales, but that wasn't enough to keep producer and rights-holder the Halcyon Group from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The "Terminator" rights have been up for sale since September, though no one has been publicly revealed as a bidder until now. Lionsgate is the current frontrunner, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

The "Saw" studio reportedly offered $15 million for the franchise up front, with an additional 5% of gross box office sales from any "Terminator" movies it makes going to Halcyon. The LA Times reports that Lionsgate was named the "stalking horse," which means that bids are still open to those willing to put up at least $500,000 more. The piece also reveals that Sony and Warner Bros., the international and domestic distributors, were interested in acquiring the rights, based on chatter from "people close to the two companies."

No matter who ends up with the rights in the end, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if the next "Terminator" turned out to be a reboot. It's certainly the popular thing to do these days, and the series has grown a little stale since "Avatar" director James Cameron moved on to other things following "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." I'm not so certain that the world is crying for more "Terminator" at this point -- the sad, unfortunate performance of the "Sarah Connor Chronicles" TV series is proof of that -- but a reboot might be the right idea, if only to put a fresh spin on things.

Speaking personally, I'll be glad to see those rights go somewhere else. "Terminator" is one of the most-sold franchises out there, but Halcyon really bungled it. Lionsgate has made a small fortune churning out yearly "Saw" movies on small enough budgets that they earn five or six times more than what it cost to make them. A low-budget, character-focused "Terminator" story could be the shot in the arm the franchise needs. The highly underrated TV series did plenty on a television budget, largely because the characters were painted so well.

How do you rank the "Terminator" movies? Do you want to see more? Would you like to see Lionsgate get the rights? What would you hope to see from the series next?