Do We Really Need Another Terminator Movie?

The relationship didn’t work. Move on with your life, Hollywood.

When it comes to franchises that Hollywood refuses to give up on, Terminator easily takes the cake. It’s quite frankly insane how many times the system has tried to make this series work: in many ways, the last three Terminator films have all been reboots, hoping to jump start a new direction for the series, and failing EVERY SINGLE TIME. The last attempt, 2015’s Terminator: Genisys, was a notorious bomb, costing over $130 million and not even getting up to $100 million domestically. And that one had Schwarzenegger in it and everything! After that stunning failure, I really, truly felt that Hollywood would give up on the prospects of the franchise, and let the dead rest.

Which, in hindsight, was far too optimistic a sentiment. The reality of the situation far better suits my icy, cynical heart: we’re going to be getting another Terminator movie, one that will likely reboot the franchise yet again. And though there’s at least one element that could make this one actually worthwhile, I’ll believe this re-re-re-reboot will work when I see it.

But, to be fair, the element in question is and has always been the key to Terminator greatness in the past: James Cameron. The director hasn’t been a part of the Terminator series since he wrapped up T2 (and, at the time, what he hoped to be the series) back in the early 90’s, and has since divorced himself almost completely from the entire universe. But here’s a funny thing about the Terminator rights: unlike franchises like Star Wars or Looney Tunes, in which a company has complete ownership, the Terminator rights are basically on lease to the studio — which is why Terminator Salvation could be released by Warner Bros, and Terminator: Genisys could be distributed by Paramount (Terminator 2, on the other hand, was distributed by TriStar, with the first film getting release through the now defunct Orion Pictures.) But because no one studio owns the rights to Terminator, pretty much every deal includes a clause in which the original owner eventually gets the rights back. And yes, in this case, the original owner is James Cameron himself.

Many assumed that, upon getting the rights back in 2019, Cameron would choose just to kill the series. After all, he seemingly did everything he could want with the series after Terminator 2, and surely he must be looking down at the franchise’s current state with as much disdain as fans, right? Well, possibly (although his apparent appreciation for Terminator: Genisys might say otherwise), but that doesn’t change his plans for the future of the series: making another one!

Yes, according to Deadline, Cameron is spearheading another Terminator film, marking his first return to the series in over 25 years. And on the one hand, that’s certainly promising news…but don’t misplace Cameron’s new role in the series as anything too substantial. Deadline specifically uses the phrase “godfather,” which long ago was the same status that Christopher Nolan had on Man of Steel — and the end result of that one speaks for itself. At the end of the day, the director is still the director.

And on that front, Cameron has picked a pretty interesting choice in Tim Miller, fresh off his success with Deadpool. Deadpool was of course a very different project, but the action in the film was rather well done, and I’m sure Miller’s ability to deliver a cheap-but-quality blockbuster was taken into account in his hiring. He’s not a bad pick for this, but at this point I just can’t get excited about another Terminator movie. This is franchise fatigue to the max, and it’s mostly because the last trilogy of films were ALL mediocre.

On the bright-side, this project is pitched as a “reboot and a conclusion,” so I can only hope Cameron is aware of how tired audiences have become of the series, and just wants to end things with a conclusive bang. At the very least, I trust him with his own franchise more so than McG. Or Alan Taylor. Or Jonathan Mostow.

Yeah, in hindsight, there’s really nowhere to go but up, right?