terminator franchise

The Terminator franchise isn’t dead – it’s resting. At least that’s the message coming out of Skydance Productions, who had to watch Terminator Genisys take a pummeling at the domestic box office this summer. Still, there’s fight left in this ‘ol franchise and Skydance Chief Creative Officer Dana Goldberg insists that after a few weeks of recuperating at the spa and maybe a little counseling, the series will be back and ready to win over the hearts and minds of the American public once again.

Hit the jump for her full comments regarding the future of the Terminator franchise.

Speaking from The Wrap’s 6th Annual Media Leadership Conference (the pre-eminent source of geeky movie news), Goldberg addressed the mixed results of the fifth Terminator film, which opened to shrugs from fans and disappointing box office, only grossing $89 million in the United States. Skydance is well-aware of the film’s failures, but contrary to the news headlines, the franchise is most definitely not on hold as previously reported. Oh, no. Not at all. Really. Goldberg says:

“I wouldn’t say on hold, so much as re-adjusting.”

In this case, re-adjusting could mean just about anything. Heck, re-adjusting could just be a more polite way of saying “on hold.” After all, that’s usually what you do with anything that needs a re-adjustment – you stop the engine, take a close look, and solve the problem.

There’s a solid foundation hidden somewhere deep inside Terminator Genisys. Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s “Pops” is an inspired way to keep the series’ strongest asset in play as long as possible. The time traveling quasi-reboot plot is certainly ambitious. The mere presence of J.K. Simmons is a cause for celebration.

However, the film’s biggest issues are tied straight to that foundation. Matt Smith‘s shoehorned-in-to-set-up-sequels Big Bad is an embarrassment and Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney‘s attempt to recreate the greatest/most insane sci-fi movie romance of all time falls flat. And that’s before you get to the whole “John Connor is a Terminator thing.” Yeeesh. Re-adjustment isn’t a strong enough word. This franchise needs an overhaul. A remodeling. A makeover. Something.

Because right now, the Terminator franchise is looking more like the Weekend at Bernie’s remake nobody wants instead of one of the greatest science fiction film series ever made. The franchise’s not dead! How can it be dead if it’s on a boat! Look at the Terminator franchise, having fun on a boat!

We kid because we love. Give us a reason to love these movies again. We beg of you.

Of course, Skydance knows how many eyes are upon them at the moment. Terminator Genisys was announced as the first in a trilogy and it ends on a big cliffhanger ending, so to not make another movie would just be, well, kind of embarassing. Plus, there’s the matter of that new Terminator TV series they announced. The new movie may have been a misstep, but Goldberg says that all of these big plans are still on the table. She even breaks out the ever-popular “U” word:

“At Skydance, when we talk movies, we talk universes, even more than franchises. So the idea of a ‘Terminator’ TV show fits into that universe. All the steps have to be taken in unison.”

Still, it cannot be discounted that Terminator Genisys was a hit at the international box office, particularly in China, grossing $350 million from overseas markets alone. That’s not Avengers money, but it’s also not a number you sneeze at. That’s enough money to keep the franchise alive for at least one more movie. For her part, Goldberg say she’s happy for the strong international gross, but the poor domestic showing remain a cause for concern:

“We’re ultimately happy with overall worldwide numbers. Do I wish we would have done better domestically? Absolutely.

Happily, we live in the world where the domestic number had a level of importance 10 or 15 years ago — I’m not saying it’s not important, it is — but we have to play to a worldwide market. In terms of Terminator, the worldwide market paid attention, but we’re not taking the domestic number lightly.”

And that brings us to the discussion that is surely taking place behind closed doors right now: how do you make people care about these movies again? That’s the (literal) billion dollar question.

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