There has been a fair bit of activity on the news front for the new Terminator film as of late, as you’d expect since they are scheduled to begin filming soon and Arnold Schwarzenegger has been asked several questions about it while out promoting Sabotage. I should be far more cynical and just not pay attention to any of it, but the nostalgic hold Terminator has on me is overwhelming. I read about a new Terminator project, and in my mind I hear this:
And I get way too excited. So, let’s pull it all together and run down everything we know about Terminator: Genesis, the first of an intended new trilogy of Terminator films.
The Release Date
July 1, 2015 in North America. It was previously scheduled to come out June 26, 2015.
Terminator: Genesis is not 100% officially its title. That’s just what they seem to be going with at the moment.
Terminator: Salvation was meant to be the beginning of a new trilogy, but the company which produced it went bankrupt in 2009. So, the Terminator film rights rights ended up getting kicked around in bankruptcy court for a while.
Things finally got moving on Terminator: Genesis in 2011 when Megan Ellison, the 28-year-old daughter of a billionaire CEO, purchased the rights to make at least 2 more Terminator films along with a potential TV show. She and her brother David Ellison worked on it as producers until this past January when Megan walked, deciding that as the woman who’d only produced films like American Hustle, Her, Zero Dark Thirty, and The Master she was a bad fit for a big budget blockbuster. Her brother is still around as Producer, working alongside his Skydance Pictures partners (Dana Goldberg, Paul Schwake) who previously executive produced Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, and Jack Reacher with him. RoboCop and Tower Heist‘s Bill Carraro is also in the mix as an Executive Producer.
Alan Taylor turned heads directing Game of Thrones’s penultimate season 2 episode which used a movie-sized budget to depict the Battle of Blackwater. Marvel hired him to direct Thor: The Dark World, and within weeks of its release (and corresponding beau-coup box office dollars) he landed the gig to direct Terminator 5. Earlier in his career, Taylor was mostly known for directing episodes of Boardwalk Empire, Bored to Death, Nurse Jackie, Mad Men, The Sopranos, Rome, Deadwood, Sex and the City, and Oz.
Laeta Kalorgridis and Patrick Lussier have penned the script. Kalorgidis started her career writing for the short-lived Birds of Prey TV show, and has since been involved with co-writing the screenplay for Oliver Stone’s Alexander. She is now most known for adapting Dennis Lehane’s novel into the screenplay for Shutter Island (2010). Lussier is actually more known for his work editing for both TV and film, going all the way back to MacGyver. He was the editor for all 3 Scream films as well as the Hithcock-lite Red Eye and slasher remake My Bloody Valentine (which he also directed). He only has 4 prior writing credits: a trilogy of Dracula films and Drive Angry.
The only returning actor is Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing a version of the T-800 whose living tissue covering a metal endoskeleton has visibly aged thus explaining why he’ll look so much older than in the first 3 films. As of right now, he will be the only returning cast member, but he’ll be surrounded by characters with very familiar names:
Plus, do you remember this moment from Terminator 2: Judgment Day?
Well, Miles’ son, Danny, will be all grown up and played by Dayo Okeniyi (Hunger Games, The Spectacular Now) in Genesis, with his character described as “a Steve Jobs genius who figures heavily into the conclusion of the film.”
With the core cast in place, they are starting to fill out the supporting players, recently casting Byung-hun Lee (Storm Shadow from the G.I. Joe movies), Michael Gladis (Paul Kinsey on Mad Men), and Sandrine Holt (House of Cards) in mystery roles.
Of the three, only Lee’s part is apparently key to the plot. Current Growing Up Fisher star J.K. Simmons (“Get me Spider-Man!”) is unofficially attached as well to play “a weary and alcoholic detective who has followed a bizarre case involving Sarah Connor and robots for more than three decades.”
Unlike fellow recent 80s action flick remake RoboCop, Genesis will not be a straight remake of Terminator. That much seems to have been verified. Beyond that, we don’t really have much in the way of concrete facts.
Genesis is believed to somehow be a continuation of the prior Terminator films, possibly just the first 2 ala the way Bryan Singer ignored Superman 3 and 4 when making Superman Returns a continuation of Richard Donner’s Superman 1 and 2. The rumor is that the plot will actually recreate the events of Terminator 1 and 2, just with the new actors in the old roles, but something will go very differently than it did before thus placing these new trilogy of films into an alternate timeline, ala the way JJ Abrams re-set the Star Trek universe.
Discussing his role in Genesis, Arnold Schwarzenegger told MTV:
“The way that the character is written, it’s a machine underneath. It’s this metal skeleton. But above that is human flesh. And the Terminator’s flesh ages, just like any other human being’s flesh. Maybe not as fast. But it definitely ages… Terminator deals a lot with time travel, so there will be a younger T-800, and then what that model does later on when it gets reprogrammed, and who gets ahold of him. So it will be all kinds of interesting twists in the movie, but I feel so good.”
He got a little more in-depth and spoiler-y during a Nerdist podcast appearance (/Film provided the transcription):
“The director wants me to be exactly the same as I was in 1984. Because the person — I have human flesh, underneath is a metal skeleton — but the human flesh ages just like everyone else does. The skeleton doesn’t change. So it has to be the same body, physically the same thing, even though you may have show a little grey and all those things… So it’s very important that now I step it up with the workout.
I [need to] gain an extra 5-7 pounds of pure muscle and get that body back that I had then so we can switch from Terminator to the character I play now, kind of a Terminator-protector character, so we can switch back and forth to a 25-year old versus a 35-year old versus a 55-year old, when it’s in the future of 2029. So all of this and then play around with it, the body will stay the same but the makeup will change and the hair will change.”
So, wait, there will be different Arnold Terminators in this movie? What? How will that work…
That’s right. Thank you, Doctor. This could be the first Terminator film to really go crazy with the time travel concept.
Terminator: Genesis lost one of its key producers (Megan Ellison) just 3 months ago, has been delayed several times now (it was originally supposed to start filming this January), stars Schwarzenegger whose recent box-office run has been among the worst of his career, comes after revived 80s properties like RoboCop and Total Recall were non-starters with domestic audiences, and is being dropped smack-dab in the middle of one of the most jam-packed summers (2015) for tentpole releases in Hollywood history. So, yeah, there is a crap-ton of risk involved here. None of that even takes into account what could very well be a time travel-heavy thus potentially confusing plot. That all being said, if Genesis manages to be a success the plan is to film the two sequels in the trilogy back-to-back over 9 months.
Is James Cameron at all involved?
No. He’s busy making 17 new Avatar movies, or however many sequels he ends up doing. However, the Terminator film rights will revert back to him in 2019, which is part of the reason they would be so keen to film the two sequels back-to-back (i.e., they’d be in a bit of a rush to get them done before losing the rights).
The TV Show
This past February, THR claimed X-Men: First Class, Thor, and Fringe writers Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller had been hired to develop and executive produce an ongoing Terminator series story for TV, the franchise’s first effort in that arena since the short-lived Sarah Connor Chronicles:
“The TV series will follow a critical moment from the first Terminator film (1984), and where the film’s story goes one way, the upcoming series will take the same moment in a completely different direction. As the rebooted film trilogy and the new TV series progress, the two narratives will intersect with each other in surprising and dramatic ways.”
Beyond that, we know very little, and there hasn’t been much in the way of updates since THR’s initial report. This show would be produced by Skydance Pictures, a prolific film producer just now getting into producing for TV. They recently sold a TV series, Manhattan, to WGN America. So, it’s possible that if a new Terminator TV show actually happens it would not necessarily end up on one of the major broadcast networks.
Might we suggest the ultra-obvious Terminator-Back to the Future Cross-Over?