To survive as a film and TV fan in 2017 often means to learn how to stop worrying about reboots, revivals and requels and instead love the retread. If your kneejerk reaction to every new relaunch is one of annoyance and negativity then you won’t get very far because in terms of franchise filmmaking old is the new “new” in Hollywood, and will be for the foreseeable future as global market forces and ever-rising levels of competition continues to make investors nervous, thus prioritizing anything with a built-in audience over anything without. Accept that or don’t. But don’t keep being that snarky person on the internet shitting all over something that’s going to happen with or without you.
Or at least that’s what I am trying to tell myself right now while processing the realization that James Cameron’s long-teased Terminator revival might actually happen. After Terminator: Genisys, the prospect of a new Terminator movie, even one produced by Cameron, fell into the “I’ll believe it when I see it” category. However, when most people weren’t looking a lot happened behind the scenes to suddenly elevate this into “Holy shit, I might actually see this” territory.
James Cameron is producing. Deadpool’s Tim Miller is directing. Schwarzenegger is returning. A writer’s room consisting of David Goyer (Blade, The Dark Knight trilogy, Man of Steel), Charles Eglee (Dark Angel), Josh Friedman (Sarah Connor Chronicles) and Justin Rhodes have planned out both a single film that can stand on its own and an entire trilogy should the first film be successful enough to warrant sequels. They are currently casting for an 18-year-old female to become the new female face of the franchise, but she will be joined by Linda Hamilton, who was just announced as returning to the role of Sarah Connor for the first time on screen since T2: Judgement Day (she did make a vocal cameo in Terminator: Salvation).
Announcing Hamilton’s return, Cameron said: “As meaningful as she was to gender and action stars everywhere back then, it’s going to make a huge statement to have that seasoned warrior that she’s become return. There are 50-year-old, 60-year-old guys out there killing bad guys, but there isn’t an example of that for women.”
Story details are scarce, but the general plan, ala Jurassic World, is to simply ignore the sequels we didn’t like and instead make a direct sequel to T2. That means also ignoring Genisys, the hybrid-Terminator 1 remake/reboot Cameron once publicly endorsed with bullshit PR lines like “Terminator has been reinvigorated,” “The twist is more than you expected” and especially “You will love this movie.” No one really believed he meant those words at that time, and he has since acknowledged he mostly did it to help out old pal Arnold. However, he also had a financial incentive since the franchise rights were due to revert back to him, and it did him no good to see the franchise devalued.
Now that Cameron appears to be back in the driver’s seat, however, his credibility and trustworthiness on all things Terminator has seemingly been shot. So, it’s been very easy to simply ignore all of his recent talk of maybe reviving the franchise even though we are only just a little over 2 years removed from Genisys.
Oh, wow, Cameron told IGN (via io9) in August:
“A lot of the things that were science fiction in Terminator are now around us. You know, from predator drones and actual discussions on the ethics of having a robot have its own kill decision possibilities. Things like that. It’s actually happening. So, okay, maybe there is room for a film that examines these themes. It just has to be retooled for an audiences’ expectations now.”
Whatever. Maybe try finishing your fifty Avatar sequels nobody asked for first, James. You keep pushing back those release dates. Don’t pull a George R.R. Martin and lose sight of the prize by busying yourself with side projects. Terminator is dead. Your name is mud. Just let it be.
But we are quick to forget one thing: Genisys grossed $440m worldwide. Off of a $155m budget. Sure, nearly 80% of that worldwide cume came via the international market since the film flopped in the U.S. and Canada to the tune of $89m, but that’s still enough money to convince certain people that this franchise might have some legs left if it’s simply sold in a better package. The word-of-mouth on Genisys was too toxic to greenlight a direct sequel, but Paramount (handling domestic distribution) and Fox (handling international) are betting the official return of Cameron to the franchise, re-teamed with Schwarzenegger and Hamilton, might be the package deal to get this thing back on track.
Never mind that summer 2017 should have taught Hollywood to stop making sequels (or revivals) to movies (or of franchises) no one liked (or are tired of seeing).
Or that the recent 3D re-release of T2 bombed.
Or that Universal Studios Florida just announced it is closing its Terminator 2 3D theme park attraction after 21 years of operation, thus signaling how little value another studio sees in the franchise at this point.
Or that we’ve already been sold the Terminator nostalgia act before with Genisys, and it didn’t go over that well.
But now is where I circle back around to my opening paragraph and remind myself to stop being that snarky dude on the internet complaining about something that’s going to happen with or without him. Remember, learn to love the retread. Because, after all, is it so impossible to believe that a James Cameron-produced, Tim Miller-directed, Linda Hamilton-starring Terminator movie could actually be pretty good? And even if it’s not who cares? There’ll probably something better on TV that weekend anyway. Damn, there’s that snark again. Try to be more positive. Try to be more positive. Try to be more positive.
Well, I’ve gone to my, um, happy place, but while I’m busy chanting let me know what you think of all this. It’s okay if your thoughts about it aren’t positive.