They may not have arrived from the future like the Terminator himself, but when they announced last May that their Halcyon Company had acquired rights to the Terminator franchise Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek were still unknown quantities in the film industry big league.
Six months later, with a fourth Terminator film in pre-production, two more deals under their belts and other ventures in the offing, the youthful co-CEOs appear to be on the way to establishing Halcyon (not connected with UK financing company Halcyon Pictures) as a significant development, production and financing operation active in film, games and other media.
If a hint of mystery persists it is because, Anderson suggests, 'We're more do than talk.'
The two teamed up in Los Angeles after Anderson, 39, sold his New York and London-based advertising agency In The Mix and Kubicek, still only 26, moved on from a stint as a trader on the American Stock Exchange.
Their first venture was Cook-Off!, a low budget, mostly self-financed mockumentary that won a prize at this year's HBO Aspen Comedy Festival but has yet to be released theatrically. Producing the project, says Anderson, was a way of 'understanding everything from the ground up. We wanted to be involved in everything.'
The experience helped form a much broader business plan for Halcyon. 'The big idea is really creating, owning and controlling important cultural wealth and IP (intellectual property) and exploiting it across multiple platforms and multiple mediums,' Anderson explains. 'The driving force is the content and if you control the right content you create the biggest opportunities.'
The business plan in turn helped attract the kind of private equity finance necessary to reactivate the Terminator franchise with a $200m feature, a simultaneous video game, two more planned sequels and other projects.
The Halcyon founders will not specify how much they have raised, or the sources, other than to say the backers include hedge funds, high net worth individuals and people with whom they have worked profitably in the past.
'We had to pool our resources,' Kubicek says. 'We did raise money in our own back yard, so to speak. We really put together a compelling business model and a philosophy that made it easy for us to attract investors.'
The Terminator franchise deal gave Halcyon the right to make any future films and projects in other new or existing media; all future merchandising and licensing rights; certain future revenues from Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (the 2003 instalment that grossed $150.4m at the North American box office and $283m internationally); and an interest in TV spin-off series The Sarah Connor Chronicles (produced by C-2 Pictures and Warner Bros Television for the US Fox network).
It was followed last month by a three-year deal with Electric Shepherd Productions, giving Halcyon first-look rights to the works - 45 novels and more than 120 short stories - of sci-fi writer Philip K Dick, whose material has been the basis for films including Blade Runner and Total Recall.
Most recently, the company formed a Halcyon Games subsidiary that will have a first look at Halcyon film and TV projects and acquire and create its own properties, which may then be adapted by the parent operation for the big or small screen.
Halcyon Games CEO Peter Levin (a game-industry veteran who has also worked at CAA and Disney) and vice-president of production Cos Lazouras (from Vin Diesel's game company Tigon Studios) join a growing Halcyon Company management team which already includes COO Randolph Paul, an attorney and former Miramax and Cinergi executive.
Kubicek and Anderson plan to make three or four films a year, the majority having 'some important IP cornerstone' and one or two being tentpoles with budgets in the $90m-$200m region.
Video games will be another big profit centre. Anderson suggests the company's in-house game publishing strategy will lead to movie-based games of higher quality than those often produced by third-party publishers looking to mitigate the risk involved in paying big licensing fees to studios.
Terminator goes fourth
Halcyon's first movie, Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, has a locked-down script by third instalment writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris and is slated to start principal photography next March. Third instalment executive producer Moritz Borman will produce with Anderson and Kubicek and, though Halcyon has not yet confirmed his signing, McG (Charlie's Angels) is rumoured to be directing.
Anderson says Halcyon is choosing between Hungary and Australia as a base for the project. Warner Bros is set to release in North America in summer 2009 (though a legal dispute between Halcyon and MGM involving domestic rights had not, at press time, been settled) and Anderson reports that a studio deal for international rights is imminent.
Casting is ongoing - original Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to play a cameo at most - but Anderson emphasises 'the franchise is really the star. There's such an incredible mythology and such an energised audience for it.'
The company's next project is likely to be a Philip K Dick film - the author's acclaimed novel Ubik is thought to be a priority - with a simultaneous game adaptation.
Kubicek suggests the Dick library has game potential that has not been fully exploited by its owners. 'Though all of his film adaptations have been tremendously successful,' he says, 'they've never done a component video game, they've never reached deeper into their sci-fi fantasy space, and we're excited to help them do that.'
The production slate, say the Halcyon chiefs, should dispel any lingering scepticism about the company and its plans. 'There's been buzz and rumours about how deep the well is,' Kubicek concedes, 'but at the end of the day, we just want to excite people with the content. We're in pre-production on Terminator Salvation and we're going to shortly be in pre-production on a Philip K Dick property. We're building our credibility with sweat.'