The future of the Terminator franchise will be decided by the end of January as bidders line up to buy the rights from Halcyon, the producer that sought bankruptcy protection in September.
Halcyon entered Chapter 11 following a dispute with Pacificor, a hedge fund that backed its acquisition of the rights.
The producer has hired FTI Capital Advisers to consider ways to monetise its most-valuable asset. A source familiar with the situation said: "It probably will be sold, but a big financial institution could come in and use the Terminator rights as collateral for a loan and leave it with Halcyon."
All the major studios, and some independents, are interested in buying the rights and yesterday global financial firms were also in touch. The initial deadline will be 20 November, when a "stalking horse" bid will be accepted and the terms made known. An auction is expected to follow, which "will probably be settled in January," the source added.
Halcyon was behind this year's Terminator Salvation, an attempt to kick-start the series without Arnold Schwarzenegger as the killer robot, and starring Christian Bale. There is a plan for two more films, with the next one already in development.