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James Cameron Discusses Why He Thinks “Terminator: Dark Fate” Failed 

Although the most recent Terminator film, Dark Fate, appears to have recouped its $185 million budget, it did not exactly set the world on fire. Producer James Cameron, who created the franchise and was heavily involved in the film, believes he knows why the film bombed: it starred the franchise’s original stars, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton. Which seems weird to me.

Cameron explained his theory for why audiences didn’t respond to the film, which was unquestionably miles better than 2009’s Terminator: Salvation and 2015’s Terminator: Genisys: Apocalypse.

“I think the issue, and I’m going to wear this one, is that I refused to do it without Arnold. ‘Look, I don’t want that,’ I told [Director Tim Miller]. Arnold and I have been friends for 40 years, and I could hear it, and it would go like this: ‘Jim, I can’t believe you’re making a Terminator movie without me.’

It didn’t mean much to me to do it, but I told them, ‘if you guys could see your way clear to bringing Arnold back, then, you know, I’d be happy to be involved.’ “And then Tim was Tim wanted Linda.

I think what happened is that the movie could have survived with Linda and Arnold in it, but when you put Linda and Arnold in it and then, you know, she’s 60-something, he’s 70-something, all of a sudden it wasn’t your Terminator movie, it wasn’t even your dad’s Terminator movie, it was your granddad’s Terminator movie.

james cameron Terminator: Dark Fate

And we didn’t notice it. We loved it, and we thought it was cool that we were making a direct sequel to a movie that came out in 1991. And young moviegoers were not created. They wouldn’t have been born for another decade. So it was just our own obliviousness. We got a little carried away with our own supply, and I believe that was the lesson.”

He’s not wrong when he says Dark Fate is aimed at fans of Terminator 2: Judgment Day from 1991. However, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Top Gun: Maverick and even the Star Wars sequel trilogy have all done the same thing to varying degrees of success.

I can’t help but think that the mediocrity of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003, as well as the horrors of Salvation and Genisys, were far more significant reasons for audiences not giving another Terminator film a chance.

When 60 percent of a franchise is bad, and there hasn’t been a good installment in nearly 30 years, another film will be difficult to sell. This is a shame because Dark Fate was fantastic! Still, I’d be surprised if Paramount didn’t reboot the franchise within the next decade.