Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
That pearl of inspirational of wisdom from Shawshank Redemption could be updated for modern day Hollywood to say that “A controllable IP is a good thing, maybe the most profitable of things, and no IP ever dies.”
So, I am not here to say goodbye to Community and Terminator. Instead, this is simply goodbye for now.
But, wait, I am totally getting ahead of myself.
First, Dan Harmon told THR that a recent corporate shake-up at Yahoo has left him unsure about the future of Community. Kathy Savitt, who was instrumental in saving the show from NBC and granting it a sixth season, has left Yahoo to work at the China-backed mini-major film studio STX Entertainment. Her exit means Community has lost its biggest champion at Yahoo. According to Harmon, “That makes it look a little more bleak just because before she was gone, she was the person that anyone could pick up the phone and say, ‘Let’s make this Community thing happen,’ whatever it was, and she’s the reason it would get done.”
After Community’s sixth season wrapped, there were rumblings that Yahoo was keen to pick it up for another season, but Harmon immediately went on a self-imposed media blackout and came out of it sounding like someone more interested in talking about Rick & Morty. The gist of it is that all of the actors have fulfilled their contracts and would be too expensive to bring back meaning the best bet is to abandon any idea of another season and simply make a movie to fulfill the #SixSeasonsAndAMovie mantra. It was assumed that the most logical home for any such movie would be Yahoo. After all, if Crackle can make a Joe Dirt 2, Yahoo can make a Community movie.
Joel McHale, in particular, has been the most insistent that a movie will happen at some point. Rob Thomas was in a similar position a couple of years ago and while that Party Down movie he’s teased probably won’t happen he did manage to crowd-fund a Veronica Mars movie.
Given Community’s routine escapes from death it’s hard to imagine that a movie won’t happen eventually. Look on the bright side: the show’s biggest fan at Yahoo now works at a film studio which is devoted to making movies which fall into the mid-budget range.
Second, in a report about the dangers of when film financiers seek too much creative control THR’s Kim Masters snuck in the following snippet:
[Terminator: Genisys] did well overseas, especially in China, where it grossed $112 million. But the $150 million-plus movie still will lose money, and sources say the notion of a Terminator universe is on hold indefinitely.
As of this writing, Terminator: Genisys has a box office slash line of $89m dom./$350m int./$440m. worldwide against a $155m production budget, which satisfies the “Does it double its production budget in worldwide gross?” rule of thumb for roughly determining profitability. However, we have no idea how much Paramount sunk into prints and advertising costs, and $112m of that international gross comes from China, i.e., the country which only gives studios a 25% cut of ticket sales. It’s not stunning to hear that it might actually lose money, and even if that wasn’t the case it still wouldn’t be stunning to hear that plans for the sequels have been put on hold. Paramount’s distribution chief previously told THR that the determining factor in moving forward with the sequels would not just be how much money Genisys made overseas but how well it held up, and the truth is that after a huge first day in China it catered just the way it did in the States.
Of course, you can’t always completely trust a random little snippet from a Kim Masters-penned THR article. She’s the same one who implied Pacific Rim 2 will never happen, freaking out the internet and causing Guillermo Del Toro to come out and say that as far as he knew the movie was still happening. Then again, Pacific Rim 2 just officially lost its release date a couple of days ago, although in announcing the change the studio re-iterated its commitment to release this movie…at some point. Let’s see if something like that happens with those two Genisys sequels, or if Paramount will quietly drop the dates and move on without any fanfare.
Ultimately, we are left waiting. Assuming Allison Brie ever has free time ever again (she is the go-to indie comedy actress of the moment), a Community movie is something that could still happen. The Terminator rights revert to James Cameron in 2019, at which point he might simply do the sensible thing and bury the franchise for good, or maybe he’ll try to do something with it. We don’t know.
But are you really that anxious to see what happens next? Community season six was watchable and sometimes funny, but overall it feels like that show’s cultural moment has passed, with Harmon’s creative energies better realized through Rick & Morty now. Terminator: Genisys was…well, it has its fans. I’m not one of them.
What about you?