Reggie’s Take Movie Franchise Countdown: #9 The Terminator Franchise

Iconic phrases such as “I’ll be back” and “Hasta la vista, baby” have become a part of cinematic history in a franchise that have the human race fighting to survive against machines. The Terminator franchise is next in my Reggie’s Take movie franchise countdown.

Created by James Cameron the Terminator franchise shows the battle for survival between the nearly extinct human race lead by John Connor against Skynet and it’s machines in a war to keep the human race from being wiped from the Earth.

James Cameron’s original idea for the first Terminator movie involved two Terminators sent back to the past. The first was very similar to the Terminator we see in the original film, while the second was to be a liquid metal cyborg that could not be destroyed with conventional weaponry.

Cameron could not come up with a good way to show this robot, saying that he was seeing things in his head that couldn’t be done with the technology that existed at the time. The story for The Terminator was cut down to a single robot. The liquid metal Terminator or T-1000 would be revisited in the 1991 sequel Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Orion Pictures would agree to distribute the movie and was eventually given a budget of $6.5 million for Cameron to work with. Orion wanted Cameron to use Arnold Schwarzenegger to play the part of Kyle Reese Cameron wasn’t keen on the idea.

Orion also suggested that O.J. Simpson for the role of the Terminator, but Cameron did not feel that Simpson would be believable as a killer. Schwarzenegger entertained Cameron during their meeting for the role of Kyle Reese and afterwards Cameron went back to the studio to inform them that Schwarzenegger would not play Reese but that “he’d make a hell of a Terminator”.

Orion Pictures did not expect The Terminator to perform well at the box office and feared a negative reception. The film premiered on October 26, 1984. On its opening week, The Terminator grossed $4.0 million making it number one at the box office. The film remained at number one during its second week, but lost its number one spot in the third week to Oh, God! You Devil.

The Terminator is considered by many as one of the best films of 1984 for its action scenes and rapid pacing. The Terminator would go on to earn $78 million worldwide, surpassing its $6 million budget easily.

Variety at the time called The Terminator a “full of virtuoso moviemaking, terrific momentum, solid performances and a compelling story…Schwarzenegger is perfectly cast in a machine-like portrayal that requires only a few lines of dialog.”

Schwarzenegger only speaks 18 lines in the film, and less than 100 words in total.
James Cameron’s 1989 film The Abyss provided the proof needed to resolve the technical concerns in making a sequel to the Terminator and Terminator 2 began to move forward.

Terminator 2 required an unprecedented budget of more than $94 million, much of which was spent on filming and special effects. The film’s visual effects gave the audience breakthroughs in computer-generated imagery, including the first use of natural human motion for a computer-generated character and the first partially computer-generated main character the T-1000.

Terminator 2 was a box office and critical success and received several honors, including four Academy Awards for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Makeup, and Best Visual Effects

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the highest grossing of the first four Terminator movies released so far.

Despite Cameron’s absence from the franchise after “Terminator 2” “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and “Terminator Salvation” showed respectable box office returns, but not to the degree that both of Cameron’s movies showed.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines received generally positive reviews. James Cameron described the film as “in one word: great” but after the release of the fourth film Terminator Salvation Cameron felt his first two films were better than either of the later films

Terminator Salvation received mixed reviews and was criticized for going with a PG-13 version after the director McG removed a shot of Marcus stabbing a thug with a screwdriver, he felt disallowing the younger audience due to that one shot would not be fair.

Terminator Salvation was initially intended to begin a new trilogy, but a fifth film was halted due to legal trouble, as well as The Halcyon Company filing for Chapter 11bankruptcy.

In May of 2011 the Terminator franchise rights had been bought and Paramount Pictures would distribute the film. James Cameron would be involved in several meetings on how best to use Arnold Schwarzenegger and how to stay true to the original T-800 character.

Terminator Genisys began filming in April of 2014 and recently opened in U.S. theaters on July 1, 2015. Cameron after watching a prerelease showing of the movie voiced his support for the movie, characterizing it “as being extremely respectful of the first two movies” and counting it as the official third film in the franchise.

A well-known director in James Cameron and Arnold’s ability to make the Terminator character fun and exciting has the Terminator franchise in at number nine on my movie franchise countdown. As with any franchise it has it flaws, but is deserving of a top ten placement.

Reggie’s Take:
With every franchise you have great characters and at least one major star as the face of the franchise and with the Terminator franchise this holds true.

Arnold Schwarzenegger character and portrayal of the “Terminator” is as iconic to this franchise as “Darth Vader” is to “Star Wars”. With out Arnold the “Terminator” may not of been the same.

Let’s not forget about James Cameron whose idea and wonderful direction gave this franchise what it needed, life and a stable footing to grow into such a powerhouse movie franchise that it’s become.

Granted not every movie in the franchise has been at a T2 level, but with any and all movie franchise’s you can’t expect it either.

Paramount plans on moving forward with two more sequels after “Genisys” no matter the box office returns due to the rights of the franchise reverting back to Cameron in 2019.

Will this move by Paramount hurt the franchise as a whole? Only time will tell.

I suspect that James Cameron will put the “Terminator” franchise on the shelf for some time before considering another movie regardless the box office success that Paramount may have with the “Genisys” so called trilogy.

The face of the franchise, Schwarzenegger has said he will only due the first sequel after “Genisys”. Where does that leave Paramount for the third installment? I would assume they have a plan in place or at least you would hope.

As much as I love the Terminator movies it does seem apparent that Hollywood might be running out of ideas for a franchise that’s now over thirty years old. Some Hollywood franchises have staying power, but when your franchise seems based around an actor who’s aging and only so many realistic story-lines to go around it might be time for a break.

The Terminator Poster #1

The Terminator 1984

Machines take over the world in the near future, directed by the artificial intelligence Skynet. With its sole mission to completely annihilate humanity, it develops cyborg assassins called Terminators that outwardly appear human. A man named John Connor starts the Tech-Com resistance to fight the terminators, defeat Skynet and free humanity. With a human victory imminent, the machines’ only choice is to send a Terminator back in time to kill John’s mother, Sarah Connor, before he is born, preventing the resistance from ever being founded. With the fate of humanity at stake, John sends soldier Kyle Reese back to protect his mother and ensure his own existence.


Terminator 2 Judgment Day Poster #1

Terminator 2 Judgment Day / 1991

Eleven years after “The Terminator,” young John Connor, the key to civilization’s victory over a future robot uprising, is the target of the shape-shifting T-1000, a Terminator sent from the future to kill him. Another Terminator, the revamped T-800 has been sent back to protect the boy. As John and his mother go on the run with the T-800, the boy forms an unexpected bond with the robot.


Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines Poster #1

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines / 2003

Now 25, Connor lives with no record of his existence — no way he can be traced by Skynet. Out of the shadows of the future steps the T-X, Skynet’s most sophisticated cyborg killing machine yet. Now Connor’s only hope for survival is the Terminator, his mysterious former assassin. Together, they must triumph over the technologically superior T-X and forestall the looming threat of Judgment Day.


Terminator Salvation Poster #5

Terminator Salvation / 2009

Although Judgment Day has in fact occurred, the future for which John Connor was prepared has been partly altered by the appearance of a stranger named Marcus Wright. Connor must determine if Wright has been rescued from the past, or sent from the future. As the machines prepare for a final battle, Connor and Wright delve deep into Skynet’s heart, uncovering a secret that could lead to the annihilation of mankind.


Terminator Genisys Poster #12

Terminator Genisys / 2015

When John Connor, leader of the human resistance against Skynet, sends Kyle Reese back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah, from a Terminator assassin, an unexpected turn of events creates an altered timeline. Instead of a scared waitress, Sarah is a skilled fighter and has a Terminator guardian by her side. Faced with unlikely allies and dangerous new enemies, Reese sets out on an unexpected new mission: reset the future.

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