James Cameron believes Terminator: Dark Fate failed because it’s a “granddad’s Terminator movie”

Last Updated on October 25, 2023


Some fans were excited when they heard that Terminator franchise creator James Cameron was going to be involved with the making of a new Terminator sequel after being absent from a few previous entries in the franchise. But when Terminator: Dark Fate (watch it HERE) arrived in theatres back in 2019, it wasn’t met with much enthusiasm. It turned out to be another box office failure, continuing Terminator‘s three film losing streak. Speaking with Deadline, Cameron said he feels the casting was at least partly to blame for the movie’s failure, saying that having Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton in the lead roles make it look like a movie for granddads.

Directed by Tim Miller from a screenplay by David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes, and Billy Ray, Terminator: Dark Fate only acknowledged the events of The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, ignoring the other sequels. The film found that Hamilton’s Sarah Connor was a grizzled lone wolf who must team up with a mechanically enhanced female soldier to protect another young woman targeted by Terminators

Hamilton and Schwarzenegger (playing an older, bearded Terminator who goes by the name Carl) were joined in the cast by Natalia Reyes as new heroine Dani Ramos, Mackenzie Davis as cybernetically enhanced soldier Grace, Diego Boneta as Dani’s brother, and Gabriel Luna as the latest villainous Terminator.

Cameron produced the film and received story credit alongside Charles Eglee, Josh Friedman, Goyer, and Rhodes. He told Deadline, “I’m actually reasonably happy with the film. Tim and I had our battles and we’ve both spoken about that, but the crazy thing is we’re still pals. Which is weird. I liked him before the movie, didn’t like him very much during the movie, and I like him now, and I think he feels the same way. We’re both these crazy sci-fi geeks and we like a lot of the same things, and I love his show, Love, Death + Robots. But yeah, we butted heads. I think the problem, and I’m going to wear this one, is that I refused to do it without Arnold. Tim didn’t want Arnold, but I said, ‘Look, I don’t want that. 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 just didn’t mean that much to me to do it, but I said, ‘If you guys could see your way clear to bringing Arnold back and then, you know, I’d be happy to be involved.’ And then Tim wanted Linda. I think what happened is I think the movie could have survived having Linda in it, I think it could have survived having 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. And we didn’t see that. We loved it, we thought it was cool, you know, that we were making this sort of direct sequel to a movie that came out in 1991. And young moviegoing audiences weren’t born. They wouldn’t even have been born for another 10 years. So, it was just our own myopia. We kind of got a little high on our own supply, and I think that’s the lesson there.

A couple years ago, Davis gave her own opinion on why Terminator: Dark Fate didn’t do well: movie-goers are just tired of Terminator movies. She told Happy Sad Confused, “Nobody saw the last three. I get it, it’s okay. I don’t think that means what we made was bad, but I understand that the audience’s appetite had been exhausted. … ‘Alright, six is too much, now we know.’

I think a darker, lower-budgeted Terminator – something more along the lines of the first movie – might have a chance at success, but the box office numbers for the last three movies have definitely made it clear that there isn’t much of an audience for large scale blockbuster Terminator movies anymore. Not even if they star Arnold Schwarzenegger and/or Linda Hamilton.

Why do you think Terminator: Dark Fate (and the two sequels before it) failed? Share your thoughts on this franchise by leaving a comment below.

Terminator: Dark Fate Arnold Schwarzenegger

Source: Deadline

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of JoBlo.com, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.