No, I am not going to make any lame jokes about how Terminator: Dark Fate has faced Judgment Day.You have probably already seen more than enough media outlets make that weak attempt at comedy already.
However, I am very disappointed to see what has become of a once great film franchise. As David noted last week, Terminator: Dark Fate – a film that reunites series creator James Cameron with Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger – has bombed at the box office. As of this writing, the movie is estimated to have brought in somewhere around $200 million USD which is barely above the film’s production budget. Keep in mind that this does not begin to account for distribution, marketing and all of the other costs associated with getting a new movie in theaters for you to watch. To be fair, it did premiere at the #1 spot during the launch weekend but this week the movie has dropped by about 63% to a measly fifth place on box office charts.
Right now Terminator: Dark Fate is faring even more poorly than its predecessor, Terminator: Genisys – a movie that is often considered to be among the worst of the entire franchise. This is also the third movie in the once legendary Terminator franchise to have a disappointing run in theaters. My guess is that this will be one of the biggest box office bombs of the year. For the sake of context, Terminator 2: Judgment Day – typically regarded as the best film in the franchise and one of the greatest sequels ever made – rocked the box office with a $517 million take. That works out to over $942 million USD when adjusted for inflation. The concept of killer robots traveling back in time to kill the savior of humanity worked back then with unprecedented visual effects, strong writing and a fine cast of actors. Those days are gone.
The movie-going audience has spoken: It is time to bury this series. People don’t care about Terminators anymore and that is especially painful when the last semi relevant film in the franchise was 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
Terminator: Dark Fate is estimated to have a production budget of $185 million. With all of that money going towards visual effects and high profile acting talent, nobody thought to spend a little more on the writers to get a stronger script? Not that the story really matters anymore. T2 ended on the note that Judgment Day, the moment when the machines decide to annihilate the human race, could be adverted even if it was unclear what the future for humanity might be. That was contradicted in T3 when it is flatly stated that Judgment Day would be inevitable. No matter what the heroes did that catastrophic moment could only be delayed at best.
And now we are told that despite all of the sacrifices made to save John Connor so that he could one day lead his fellow humans in the struggle against the machines, he is not actually that important. Oh yeah, spoiler warning! Young John Connor is brutally gunned down in the first few minutes of Terminator: Dark Fate. This is no longer his story as a new hope for humanity steps up – this time in the form of Dani, a young woman played by Natalia Reyes. At this point the movie is telling us that John Connor was never necessary for humans to overcome the machines. A new savior can be pulled out of thin air any time the studio feels like it. And audiences are rejecting this concept just as they have rejected every other Terminator flicked dumped on us for the last decade.
I love going to movie theaters and watching films on the giant screen. This is a slowly dying experience as more and more people opt for the home theater to watch movies from the comfort of their own sofa. Dropping piles of money on tired franchises is not going to help restore the wonder of the movie going experience.
It is high time for Paramount and the other movie studios to invest in some new ideas.