The Terminator franchise is one of the most popular in movie folklore, but it was dealt a huge blow today when reports confirmed that any future productions are “on hold indefinitely.” What does this mean for the future of the franchise, and is Terminator close to being terminated?
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the notion of a Terminator universe is “on hold indefinitely.” No formal announcement has been made from Paramount or producer David Ellison, and nothing has been confirmed, but after a dismal box-office performance from the latest outing, Terminator Genisys, the future of the franchise doesn’t look too promising. With a new Terminator installment initially planned for 2017, the time is slowly ebbing away to begin production.
Terminator Genisys received some of the more negative reviews of the summer, from critics and fans alike. The $150m blockbuster didn’t breakeven in the U.S., making a lowly $100m. Recent reports show that the film was a hit overseas, with a quarter of its $440m gross coming from China. Initial reports provided some hope, with news that the total take was enough to make Terminator Genisys 2 happen. It’s currently the second highest grossing movie in the franchise behind Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but it seems the overwhelming negative response has forced the studio to react.
Terminator Genisys was the first piece of a complex puzzle for Skydance and Paramount. Fans were equally excited and nervous about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the franchise, but it was the first step to launch a new trilogy of movies, in addition to possible TV shows that would adapt the universe for a modern, technology-savvy audience. The rights to the franchise were also set to revert back to James Cameron in 2019, so time was of the essence for both studios.
As well as two sequels slated for 2017 and 2018, a small screen outing was planned, with Sarah Connor Chronicles writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz interested in the project. David Ellison assured everyone earlier in 2015 that the TV show was going ahead, but in light of recent developments, the project doesn’t seem to be happening.
Speaking to The New York Times in June, Ellison acknowledged the scope of blockbuster movies, films that have to succeed in order to please the masses. Speaking of movies in general, in light of the Terminator Genisys release, he said the following.
“Good isn’t good enough. Movies have to be great. If you fall short of that, it is incredibly challenging.”
On purchasing the rights to Terminator, he would go on to reveal his ambitions.
“We want to be Marvel. Yes, we know that’s a lofty ambition. We understand that Terminator is a worldwide franchise, and we are hopeful that the fans are still as passionate about it as we are.”
It’s clear that Ellison has high hopes for the Terminator franchise. With no official announcement from either Paramount or Ellison, expect some news to trickle through in due course.
Can the Terminator recover? After all, the franchise began as a small movie, one that wasn’t expected to be a critical or commercial success. James Cameron directed The Terminator in 1984, it stormed to number one at the American box office for two consecutive weeks, and helped launched the film careers of Cameron — who would go on to break box-office records with Titanic and Avatar — and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was a relatively unknown actor at the time.
It spawned four sequels, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator: Salvation (2009), and Terminator Genisys. On a combined budget of $642.7 million, the films have grossed $1.84 billion.
With Arnold Schwarzenegger and Matt Smith contracted to star in the next installment, a film teased by Genisys, there may still be some clout to the movies. With Schwarzenegger involved in the project and the costly process involved in securing the rights to the franchise, we may not have heard the last of Terminator yet. Will he be back? Only time will tell.
[Images courtesy of Paramount Pictures]