Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Terminator, anyone?

Terminator franchise to be auctioned off
By Matthew Garrahan

The rights to the Terminator film franchise will be auctioned this month in a deal that will test Hollywood intellectual property valuations at a time when film industry profits are under pressure from falling DVD sales.

The sale, which comes weeks after the rights to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were sold for $60m – and is likely to exceed that – has sparked considerable interest because Terminator is a rare example of a blockbuster film franchise not controlled by a big studio.

The interest in the future rights of Terminator underscores the value of IP during a tough time for Hollywood. That value has held up, with Walt Disney recently agreeing a hefty premium in its $4bn deal to buy Marvel Entertainment.

Several financial buyers have expressed interest in Terminator. All the big film studios have also registered interest in the rights, with Sony Pictures a leading contender, according to a person familiar with the situation. Sony declined to comment.

Summit Entertainment, the company behind the Twilight series, is tracking the sale, as is Media Rights Capital, which produced Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno, the person added.

The rights are being sold by Halcyon, the production company behind Terminator Salvation, the latest instalment in the series, which grossed $380m worldwide. The auction does not cover earlier Terminator films.

The rights will give the buyer the ability to make new Terminator films, TV programmes and other spin-offs that build on the popularity of the franchise.

The sale is being conducted by FTI Capital Advisors, recently appointed by Halcyon when it sought bankruptcy protection. Halcyon filed for Chapter 11 after a dispute with Pacificor, a Santa Barbara-based hedge fund that lent Halcyon funds to buy the Terminator rights.

The rights to the franchise have changed hands many times and were sold to Halcyon for $25m two years ago by Mario Kassar, who produced Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Kevin Shultz, senior managing director at FTI, pointed to the recent $60m purchase of rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise by Nickelodeon, the cable network owned by Viacom. “We have a property that has made three times the box office [takings of the TMNT films],” he said.

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source: Financial Times

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