The status of Terminator 3's prospects is a lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger's killer robot at the end of the original--its meat and legs have been blown away, but it's still going.

Andy Vajna, co-founder of the defunct Carolco Pictures--producer of Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, won a U.S. Bankruptcy Court auction bid Tuesday and will pay $8 million for half the sequel rights

To get them, Vajna and his lawyers had to outbid Disney's Miramax Films and overcome an objection by producer Gale Anne Hurd (owner of the other half of the sequel rights). Hurd had earlier argued that the court could not sell the rights without her approval--she probably didn't want someone like Vajna, who doesn't have the resources of a studio, to have them.

In any event, Vajna vows that his cyborg will be back for T3, but he still has a whole army of project-terminators to get past. First, there's the fact that James Cameron, writer-director of the first two films, has said in published reports he's not interested in being involved in any more Terminator projects, and Schwarzenegger says he won't do another one without Cameron. Second, Vajna has to reach an agreement with Hurd, which could be difficult considering she's not exactly a pal.

It was a little more than a week ago that 20th Century Fox announced it wouldn't bid for the sequel rights--this, reportedly after actually negotiating with Cameron, Schwarzenegger and Hurd.

With Schwarzenegger demanding as much as $25 million, and Cameron taking the studio way out on a budgetary limb with Titanic, Fox knew it had little chance of limiting T3's costs to its predecessor's $95 million budget if it had to pay as much as $10 million for half of the sequel rights. Vajna had earlier negotiated a $7.5 million "floor bid" with the court, ensuring it would take Fox at least around $8 million for a successful bid.

Now, like Sarah Conner with a pellet gun trying to save the human race from the awful future, it's up to Vajna and his limited resources to get T3 made. Otherwise, it's hasta la vista, baby.

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