In 1984, James Cameron wrote and directed one of the best sci-fi action movies of all time, Terminator, starring Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger. To the surprise of many, the sci-fi action film made back triple its production budget of $6.4 million by gaining nearly $79 million dollars. Nearly eight years later, James Cameron came back and somehow topped his original film with Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
The classic film amassed over $500 million worldwide and is considered the best of the Terminator franchise. Following T2, the movies continued without James Cameron on board as a director, and the franchise has been a huge mess ever since. In total, the Terminator series has spawned six films and a television show spinoff, and none of the films have managed to capture the success that Terminator 2 has received. The latest film, Terminator: Dark Fate, managed to make only $261,119,292 worldwide, a terrible return for a movie that was supposed to restart another series of Terminator films. So, what happened? The Terminator franchise appears to be on ice at the moment, with no word on the future of the once-lucrative series. Let’s dig deeper on how Terminator: Dark Fate killed the entire Franchise.
Fans Were Tired Of The Recycled Terminator Story
Terminator: Dark Fate was no different than most of the previous installments. A Terminator (in this case Mackenzie Davis’s Grace) comes back to protect the chosen one (Dani Ramos) from a robotic assassin named the Rev-9 model. The story beats of Dark Fate remain similar, Ramos and Grace run away from an indestructible robot, family and friends are killed along the way, several strong teases of the Rev-9 successfully pulling off his mission, the Rev-9 dies, and Dani lives happily ever after. Well…sort of. The only differences are the killing of John Connor, the return of Sarah Connor, and T-800 (who dies once again). The crazy thing about this is that five of the Terminator movies have the same formula. A Terminator from the future comes back to kill X, with another model helping the chosen one to stay alive. Terminator: Salvation is the only installment that deviates from that formula, though the movie is still a bit boring overall. Long story short, the Terminator franchise has gotten stale and audiences have clearly lost patience.
The Feminist Themes Didn’t Help Sell The Film
While the feminist themes weren’t in your face like Charle’s Angels or Birds of Prey and the Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, this film was clearly given a feminist spin. Granted, Sarah Connor has been the face of the franchise so a woman taking the lead in the sci-fi series is nothing new; however, when Grace says lines like “Dani, you’re not the mother of some man that saves the future”, it smacks the audience with its feminist theme. Also, killing off a vital character like John Connor didn’t help. The man that’s also played a crucial role in the Terminator universe was just axed off like some random extra whose job is simply to be killed. This is John FREAKING Connor. If you’re going kill him off then his death should’ve meant more than a 50-second flashback.
Feminist movies usually spread hate towards men in favor of showcasing a cast of strong women. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with portraying women as strong. In fact, despite that unnecessary line, Dark Fate does a solid job of having a strong male in the film. It also doesn’t spend time trashing or burying anyone with a penis. However, there’s no denying the feminist themes behind the movie’s message and that likely scared away a good portion of its audience. Feminist movies don’t do particularly well at the box office and Dark Fate became another causality.
Fans Lost Interest In The Franchise Following Terminator: Genisys
Terminator: Dark Fate didn’t kill the franchise alone as it was a collaborative effort by every Terminator film after Judgment Day. With each release, the films got worse and worse, with Terminator Genisys currently standing at a 27% on rotten tomatoes. Just like the box office numbers for the Transformers franchise dwindled because of how bad the films were, the sharp decline in quality likely had fans done with the installment once credits rolled for Genisys. Overall, Genisys made $440,603,537 worldwide, which isn’t a bad number by any means. However, given that Dark Fate only managed to rake in $261,119,292 worldwide then it’s clear that audiences had enough. Bringing back Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor was a smart business move to gain interest in Dark Fate, but it was also a little too late. Dark Fate isn’t a BAD film, but it’s not a movie you need to go out of your way to see it. Should a studio try to invest in another Terminator movie then it’s best that they create a different story that freshens up the Terminator universe.