‘Fast Five’ helmer Justin Lin drops out of directing ‘Terminator’

Fresh off the huge success of “Fast Five”, director Justin Lin is a hot property in Hollywood at the moment – even parlaying the action sequel’s boffo box-office into a helming gig on the next two “Terminator” installments. Unfortunately, however, it looks as if he might not get to work on the project after all. The reason? Pesky, pesky scheduling difficulties.

Indeed, as Deadline is reporting, Lin had no choice but to exit the project – which he has been developing closely with producer Megan Ellison and original star Arnold Schwarzenegger for the last several months – after his two collaborators set a late 2012 start date for the first of two planned sequels. That conflicts with the shooting schedule for the next “Fast and the Furious” installment, which Lin is contracted to direct.

Nevertheless, Lin still seems to be holding out hope that Ellison and Schwarzenegger will come to their senses and wait until he’s finished work on the sixth “F&F” entry, as he’s reportedly left the door open to return if they push back the start date.

The in-demand director recently faced a similar scheduling conundrum on the upcoming “Highlander” reboot, on which he was subsequently replaced by “28 Weeks Later” helmer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo.

However, as Deadline notes, Ellison still hasn’t attached a writer to pen the first “Terminator” script or partnered up with a studio – meaning that unless there’s more concrete movement on the project soon, it may not even be ready to start production by fourth quarter 2012 anyway.

Ellison’s Annapruna Films bought the rights to the “Terminator” franchise for $20 million at this year’s Cannes Film Festival following a fierce bidding war with Lionsgate. The futuristic action series could certainly use a reboot, as the last sequel, 2009’s “Terminator: Salvation”, was considered a critical and commercial disappointment.

The first four entries in the “Terminator” franchise have collectively grossed over $1.4 billion worldwide.