During the final quarter of 2019, long-running sci-fi series, The Terminator, headed back to cinema screens with the sixth instalment: Terminator: Dark Fate. The movie saw Arnold Schwarzenegger return to the role of the Terminator, alongside Linda Hamilton, who reprised the role of Sarah Connor.
Prior to the movie’s release, Terminator: Dark Fate received a significant amount of publicity, with a key focus being Hamilton’s return to the series. The actress had previously sat out of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) and Terminator: Genisys (2015) (with just a voice-over cameo in 2009’s Terminator: Salvation), so having her back was seen as a huge bonus for the movie.
But despite Hamilton’s involvement, Terminator: Dark Fate was a box office disappointment. Audiences were largely apathetic about the film, and this resulted in a lacklustre box office take of $261 million (from a budget of $185 million).
Ahead of the movie’s release, Terminator: Dark Fate was touted as the first entry in a new Terminator trilogy. Post-release, due to the disappointing return on investment, that trilogy is now looking very unlikely – and if it does go ahead, it probably won’t include Hamilton.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about the movie’s financial shortcomings, as well as her feelings on returning to the series for any additional films. She said: “I would really appreciate maybe a smaller version, where so many millions are not at stake. Today’s audience is just so unpredictable.”
The actress added: “I can’t tell you how many laymen just go, ‘Well, people don’t go to the movies anymore.’ It should definitely not be such a high-risk financial venture, but I would be quite happy to never return. So no, I am not hopeful, because I would really love to be done.”
Hamilton played a significant role in Terminator: Dark Fate, so if another sequel goes into production, and the actress decides not to take part, this could prove problematic – although not unmanageable. But if she is done, then is this really a bad thing?
The Terminator movie series has had a bumpy development, which has struggled to find an identity for years now. Some entries have worked better than others, but there is a general sense that something isn’t working despite what is being thrown at the screen.
There is a lot of love for the first couple of movies, but opinion on the rest of the series is split and the general apathy surrounding this last entry was not a good sign. Sure, reviews were pretty decent (70% on Rotten Tomatoes), but if audiences aren’t showing up to make the film profitable, even with Hamilton on board, then this is a series in need of a rethink.
For me, now is the time to find a new story and a new direction – not connected to what has come before. If Hamilton wants out, then let her go and go back to the drawing board with the whole franchise.
I love Arnie, and I found the Arnie-less Terminator: Salvation lacked… well… Arnie, but I’ve reached a stage where I would rather see the series unshackled from its current reliance on nostalgia, than keep going back to the Schwarzenegger/Hamilton well. These actors won’t be in the series forever, so the Terminator franchise needs a new hook to keep it fresh.
Time travel? It’s been done to death in almost all of the films.
The Sarah/John story? It has also been squeezed for all its worth.
I want something new. I want to feel excited about the series again. I love Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), but I can revisit those adventures anytime I want to; I now need something different.
I appreciate the Terminator movies have tried to set up new trilogies in the past, to take the series somewhere different, and this hasn’t worked out as planned. But I feel this is largely because the series simply will not distance itself from the past and in doing so it has saddled these new films with too much baggage.
Salvation was supposed to be the start of a new trilogy. It didn’t happen. Same with Genisys and now it’ll probably be the same with Dark Fate. In the meantime the series has become repetitive, disjointed, and confusing.
There’s an argument that the series has to rely on the past to help secure its audience, and (perhaps more importantly) attract investors, but in its current state it is not working. Maybe it needs to follow in the foot steps of the Jumanji series, which has successfully reinvented itself without being too slavish to the original film.
But what do you think? If you were given free reign over the Terminator movie franchise, what would you do?
Would you rip up the rule book and start afresh? Would you take the franchise to television (again) and create a mini-series? Or would you simply pull the plug? Sound off in the comment section and let me know your thoughts.