Why did Terminator: Dark Fate fail at the box office?
Robert Hyde |
3rd December 2019 |
A brief history of the Terminator films
The original Terminator film came out of no-where, it was the second film by the young fledgeling director James Cameron and it was fresh and exciting and had a story that was clever and captivated audiences.
The follow up came 6 years later and with the hype and incredible (for the time) special effects the film was going to be a hit, Arnold Schwarzenegger was at the height of his fame.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day was a massive box office hit, which had a good story, despite some plot holes, with over the top exciting action and it went on to gross over $500 Million globally which adjusted for inflation would be about $1.2 Billion today.
After that the rights to the franchise moved all over the place, then in 2003 we suddenly got Terminator 3: Rise Of THe Machine, and despite the film having fairly good reviews, starring Schwarzenegger and grossing over $400 Million globally it felt more like a stand alone movie than part of the series.
Then the big trouble started and we got Terminator Salvation in 2009, directed by McG and starring Christian Bale the film reportedly had a very troubled shoot and with Schwarzenegger on California Governor duties he didn't star just appearing as a computer generated Terminator towards the end for a brief second or 2.
Despite this negativity of both the film and the plot it still grossed nearly $400 Million, but the series was stagnating and each film was grossing less and less as each film went on.
The series needed a reboot and in 2015 Schwarzenegger came back and director Alan Taylor tried to get a feeling of the origin film in a reboot that mixed the story from The Terminator changing the time line and creating a new path for the series, but things were too confusing and the film flopped and talk of a followup ended.
So why did Terminator: Dark Fate fail?
It must have seemed like the ideal situation, bring back Schwarzenegger, bring back Linda Hamilton as the original Sarah Connor, and to top it off bring back the original creator James Cameron to write the story and produce the movie, he's too busy directing Avatar 2 so passed that duty off to Deadpool director Tim Miller.
What we have here then is series fatigue, after the 2015 reboot promise the paying public and fans have simply lost hope in trying to get a film which brings back the memory of the first 2 films, Dark Fate does not do this.
Then we have the talent, Arnold Schwarzenegger is no where near the star he was in 1991, arguably the biggest, and he is no longer the mean looking muscle machine he once was, then Linda Hamilton who rarely appears in films these days so do audiences know who she is or connect with her? Then James Cameron, after Avatar, which granted was the biggest film ever until this year, is hardly a household name anymore, these elements don't make for a must see movie.
The original 1984 story has now been told again and again in the Terminator movies, how many time can the story of a robot sent from the future to kill someone who is in turn protected by another person/machine sent from the same future, despite how much you mix things up, audiences are clearly bored of this rehashing in each reboot.
Special effects today have to have the WOW factor to sell a movie, Terminator 2 had it, but its harder to do in a day and age when almost anything is possible and sadly Dark Fate simply fails to have it.
The film reportedly had a troubled post production with director Miller and writer/producer Cameron disagreeing over the edit, and it shows, it leaves you feeling like you have just watched a disjointed movie when you leave the cinema.
Finally, and maybe this is a personal thing, the title, Dark Fate is a bit cheesy and doesn't come close to Judgment Day or even Salvation, Rise of the Machines was even a good sub title. A title shouldn't matter but it has got to sell the film, Genisys was not good and Dark Fate is even worse.
End of the franchise?
The movie will struggle to make $300 Million at the global box office, this in a day and age when tentpole movie are expected to take over a Billion is not good enough, the series future is looking bleak and it could be this is the last nail in the coffin.
There is one last hope that might bring the series back! If James Cameron can find a story somewhere within that is different but keeps within the Terminator universe, and if he decides to direct the movie himself we may just get a 7th movie, its a big ask with his involvement in the Avatar films, but this might mean we get a good few year before another movie, no bad thing.
Like many other long running series, Alien for example, the series won't just lie back and enjoy the success it's had, we most likely will see another movie in the series but it will be for another generation, and once we have forgotten the bad box office run of Terminator: Dark Fate.