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Terminator: Dark Fate

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Terminator: Dark Fate
Terminator Dark Fate poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTim Miller
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Based onCharacters
by James Cameron
Gale Anne Hurd
Starring
Music byTom Holkenborg
CinematographyKen Seng
Edited byJulian Clarke
Production
company
Distributed by
  • Paramount Pictures (North America)[1]
  • 20th Century Fox (International)[1]
Release date
  • October 23, 2019 (2019-10-23) (Europe)
  • November 1, 2019 (2019-11-01) (United States)
Running time
128 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$185–196 million[3]
Box office$234.9 million[4][5]

Terminator: Dark Fate is a 2019 American science fiction action film directed by Tim Miller, with screenplay by David Goyer, Justin Rhodes, and Billy Ray,[6] from a story by James Cameron, Charles H. Eglee, Josh Friedman, Goyer, and Rhodes. Cameron also produced the film, alongside David Ellison. It is the sixth installment in the Terminator franchise, and acts as a direct sequel to The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), while retconning other related works such as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009), Terminator Genisys (2015), and the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008–2009) from the franchise's canon following the return of creative control to Cameron.

The film stars Linda Hamilton returning in her role of Sarah Connor and Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his role as a T-800 "Terminator", reuniting the actors after 28 years. The cast includes Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, and Gabriel Luna as new characters. Set 25 years after the events of Terminator 2, the film sees the machines sending an advanced Terminator (Luna), designated Rev-9, back in time to 2020 to eliminate Dani Ramos (Reyes), whose fate is connected to the future. The Resistance also send Grace (Davis), an augmented soldier, back in time to defend Dani, while they are joined by Sarah Connor (Hamilton) and an aging T-800 Terminator (Schwarzenegger).

Filming for Terminator: Dark Fate took place from June to November 2018 in Hungary, Spain, and the United States. Distributed by Paramount Pictures in North America and 20th Century Fox in other territories, the film was theatrically released in the United States on November 1, 2019. It received mixed reviews from critics, who believed it to be an improvement over previous installments and praised the performances and action sequences, but criticized the recycled plot points and narrative choices. The film also became a box-office bomb,[7][8][9][10][11] having grossed $234 million against an estimated production budget of $185–196 million. With a break-even point of $450–480 million, projected losses for the studios involved are estimated to reach $130 million.

Plot

In 1998, three years after averting the threat of Skynet, Sarah and John Connor live a life of peace in Livingston, Guatemala, when they come under attack by a T-800 Terminator. Sent back through time by Skynet prior to its erasure, the Terminator murders John before disappearing.

Twenty-two years later, an advanced Terminator, called Rev-9, is sent back in time to Mexico City, to murder Daniella "Dani" Ramos, while a cybernetically enhanced soldier, Grace, is sent to protect her. The Rev-9, disguised as her father, infiltrates the assembly plant where Dani and her brother Diego work, but is thwarted by Grace, who escapes with the siblings. The Rev-9, revealing its ability to split itself into its cybernetic endoskeleton and shapeshifting liquid metal exterior, pursues them, killing Diego and cornering Grace and Dani. However, Sarah arrives and temporarily disables the Terminator with explosives.

Dani, Grace, and Sarah retreat to a motel so Grace can recover. Sarah reveals that she found them because in the years since John's death, she has received encrypted messages detailing the locations of arriving Terminators; each ending with "For John". Grace notes that neither Skynet nor John exists in her timeline. Instead, humanity is threatened by an AI called Legion, designed for cyberwarfare developed by the United States Armed Forces. Legion took control of servers worldwide and, in desperation, humanity tried to neutralize it with nuclear weapons, resulting in a nuclear holocaust and the AI creating a global network of machines to terminate the human survivors.

Grace traces Sarah's messages to Laredo, Texas. Barely evading the Rev-9 and the authorities, they arrive at their source, where they discover the same T-800 that murdered John. Having fulfilled its mission and with Skynet no longer existing, the T-800 was left aimless, and through learning it developed self-awareness. During that time, it learned from humanity and build a conscience, taking the name "Carl" and adopting a human family. After learning how its actions affected Sarah, and being able to detect temporal displacements, Carl decided to forewarn her of them to give her purpose. Carl offers to join them against the Rev-9 and they make preparations to destroy it. Sarah begrudgingly agrees to work together for Dani's sake. Anticipating the Rev-9's arrival, Carl bids its family farewell and tells them to escape. The group gives Dani combat training and plans how to defeat the Rev-9.

In order to do so, they seek out a military grade EMP from an acquaintance of Sarah's. The Rev-9 catches up with them, forcing them to steal a C-5 Galaxy to escape, though the EMP's are destroyed in the resulting shootout. During the flight, Grace further reveals that Dani becomes the future founding commander of the Resistance, as well as her rescuer. Sarah and Carl realize that they were fated to meet Grace and Dani. The Rev-9 boards their airplane by using a KC-10 Extender and temporarily subdues Carl, forcing Grace, Sarah and Dani to jump from the plane into a river near a hydro-power plant, with Carl and the Rev-9 following close behind.

Bludgeoned, the group makes a stand inside. In the ensuing battle, Carl and Grace force the Rev-9 into a spinning turbine, causing an explosion that critically damages the two Terminators and mortally wounds Grace. The surviving Rev-9 then incapacitates Sarah, forcing Dani to confront it herself. A dying Grace tells Dani to use her power source to destroy the Rev-9. Dani tries to fight the damaged Rev-9, but gets overpowered by it. Carl reactivates and restrains it, allowing Dani to stab it with Grace's power source. Carl drags itself and the Rev-9 over a ledge and tells Sarah "For John", right before the power core explodes, destroying them both.

Sometime later, Dani and Sarah watch over a ten-year old Grace at a park with her family, the former determined to avert Grace's death. Sarah then tells Dani she needs to get ready, with Grace watching as the pair drives off.

Cast

  • Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, the mother of John Connor, the former future leader of the Human Resistance in the war against the machines (Skynet). Now a battle-hardened senior woman and left alone after her son's death, Sarah hunts and kills Terminators to prevent Judgment Day and forestall the coming conflict.[12] She later learns that despite of destroying the company Cyberdyne Systems, it only delayed the US military's agenda for the development of artificial intelligence, resulting the creation of Skynet's successor Legion in the future. Due to her previous encounters with the machines, she is at odds with Carl and Grace. Being responsible for altering the future and after learning of Dani's destiny leading a new Resistance against Legion, she prepares her as she did John.
    • Stuntwoman Jessi Fisher served as Hamilton's stunt actress and body double for young Sarah Connor, while CGI was applied to recreate Hamilton's facial likeness from the 1990s in the opening scene.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 "Model 101" / Carl, an aging Terminator built by Skynet, and one of several sent back in time to kill John Connor.[13] Having completed its mission, it gained autonomy and freed from Skynet, and integrated into human society, moving to Laredo, Texas, marrying a human, and raising a stepson.[14] It later joins forces with Sarah and Grace to help protect Dani Ramos from Legion's Terminators. Though Sarah continues to hate Carl for her son's death, Grace and Dani respect and trust the old machine after learning its efforts to make amends to Sarah, and Dani befriends Carl after acknowledging its benevolence.
    • Brett Azar served as a body double for the young T-800, while CGI was applied to recreate Schwarzenegger's facial likeness from the 1990s in the opening scene. Azar reprises this role from Terminator Genisys.[15]
  • Mackenzie Davis as Grace, a soldier from the year 2042 taken in by Resistance commander Daniella Ramos as a teenager. Trained in military combat by Daniella, Grace was converted into a cyborg to save her life after she sustained fatal stab wounds following a security detail for the critically wounded commander. Augmented with Legion's technology, she has abilities equivalent to a Terminator during short periods of time, and requiring constant medication and nourishment. Her augmentations give her the ability to sense Legion's machines when nearby (but not Skynet's due to the differences of their technologies). Daniella sends Grace to protect her younger self from Legion's new advanced Terminator prototype.[16] She then learns about the initial timeline after meeting Sarah Connor and Skynet's surviving T-800 unit Carl. She and Sarah share a mutual distrust, due in parts because the latter sees her as a novice and being part-machine. Despite knowing that Carl is a Terminator and what he did to Sarah's son, she trusts him as a comrade and friend, mainly because of her fascination with his behavioral developments and awareness that he is not one of Legion's machines. She also briefs Sarah, Dani, and Carl about Legion.
    • Stephanie Gil portrays Grace as a child in the present day and as a teenager in the flashforwards.[17]
  • Natalia Reyes as Daniella "Dani" Ramos, a young woman who works for a Mexican City-based American automobile industrial plant, Aurius Motors, with her brother, Diego. Dani is being targeted for termination by the new advanced Terminator prototype Rev-9.[18][19] Prior to the film's events, she and her brother are planning to emigrate legally to the United States in hope for a better life and opportunities, including the healthcare their ailing father needs. At some points in her childhood, Dani's mother abandoned her family and died after attempting to cross the Mexico–United States border illegally. Sarah Connor initially believes that Dani, like herself, is the destined mother of the Resistance leader. It is revealed later that Dani is fated to succeed Sarah's deceased son John Connor, as the founding commander of the Resistance in the war against the machines of Legion, and lead them to victory, with Sarah as her mentor. The Resistance Commander, having survived the events that her younger self is going through, has foreknowledge that Grace would meet Sarah Connor shortly arriving in the past and instructs her to seek Skynet's T-800 for aid by tattooing its location's coordinates on her.
  • Gabriel Luna as Gabriel / Rev-9, an advanced Terminator prototype that originated from Legion and was sent back in time to terminate Dani. While he has a traditional solid endoskeleton covered with a "mimetic polyalloy", Rev-9 also possesses the ability to separate these two components into two separate, fully autonomous Terminator units.[20] In addition, the Rev-9 has the ability to exhibit intelligent behavior paralleling humans', including emotions, which enables it to outclass most of Skynet's Terminators in infiltration.
  • Diego Boneta[21] as Diego Ramos, Dani's younger brother.[19]
  • Tristán Ulloa as Felipe Gandal, Dani's maternal uncle and a border coyote.
  • Alicia Borrachero as Alicia, Carl's wife.[22]
  • Manuel Pacific as Mateo, Carl's step-son.[23]
  • Enrique Arce[24] as Vicente Ramos, the father of Dani and Diego.
  • Fraser James as Dean, a United States Air Force intelligence officer and acquaintance of Sarah.
  • Tom Hopper as William Hardell, Grace's commanding officer in the Resistance.[25]
  • Stuart McQuarrie as Craig, Dani and Diego's work supervisor at Aurius Motors' Mexico City-based assembly plant.
  • Georgia Simon, the film's ADR voice casting director, as the voice of Grace's mother.

Jude Collie serves as a body double for young John Connor, while CGI was applied to recreate Edward Furlong's facial likeness from the 1990s in the opening scene.[26][27][28][29] Aaron Kunitz provided the voice of young John.[30]

Production

Development

By December 2013, Skydance Productions was planning for Terminator Genisys to be the start of a new trilogy of films.[31][32] The Genisys sequels were scheduled for release on May 19, 2017 and June 29, 2018.[33][34] For the second film in the planned trilogy, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was to reprise his role as the T-800.[35] Terminator Genisys was produced by Skydance founder David Ellison, and was released in 2015, but development of the planned trilogy was stalled after the film's disappointing box-office performance.[36][37][38][39] Dana Goldberg, the chief creative officer for Skydance, said in October 2015 that she "wouldn't say [the franchise is] on hold, so much as re-adjusting". According to Goldberg, despite Genisys' disappointing domestic performance, the company was happy with its worldwide numbers and still intended to make new films. Production of a sequel would begin no earlier than 2016 because the company planned market research to determine its direction after Genisys.[38] The Genisys sequels were ultimately cancelled.[40][41]

Tim Miller and Ellison talked about Miller eventually directing a new Terminator film after completing Deadpool 2.[42][43] When Miller left the Deadpool 2 project in October 2016,[44] he took on the Terminator film as his next project instead.[42][43] Franchise creator James Cameron subsequently joined the project. Cameron had directed and co-written the first two Terminator films.[45][46] Ellison felt that Genisys could have been better, so he recruited Cameron as a fellow producer in hopes of creating a better film.[47][48] Cameron was intrigued by Ellison's proposal to make a direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, ignoring the events of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009) and Terminator Genisys.[48][49] Other filmmakers on the project had suggested making the film without Schwarzenegger, but Cameron disliked the idea as he and Schwarzenegger were friends.[50] Cameron agreed to produce the film on the condition that Schwarzenegger be involved.[51][52] As producer, Cameron was involved in pre-production and script work,[48] and also provided his input on the project.[45] Miller felt that audiences had "lost hope" in the franchise following the last three films. He believed that Cameron's involvement would serve as a "seal of quality" which would convince fans that the franchise "was going to be handled at least in a way that the original filmmaker would want."[46]

Cameron was involved with the film as of January 2017, and Ellison was searching for a writer among science fiction authors with the intention that Miller direct.[53] Later in the month, Ellison said there would be an announcement regarding the future of the franchise before the end of the year, and that it was going to be in a direction that would provide "the continuation of what the fans really wanted since T2".[54] In July 2017, Cameron said that he was working with Ellison to set up a trilogy of films and supervise it. The intention was for Schwarzenegger to be involved, but also introduce new characters and "pass the baton".[55]

Pre-production

On September 12, 2017, Skydance Media confirmed that Miller will direct the new Terminator film,[56] which was initially scheduled for release on July 26, 2019.[57] The film's budget was approximately $185–$196 million, mostly split three ways between Skydance, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox.[58] China-based Tencent Pictures joined the project as a co-financier in April 2018,[59] ultimately financing 10 percent of the budget.[3] Tencent also handled the film's distribution, marketing, and merchandising in China.[59]

Writing

Before screenwriters were hired, Miller requested that a group of novelists be consulted on how to reinvent the franchise.[60] Among the novelists were Joe Abercrombie, Neal Asher, Greg Bear, Warren Ellis, and Neal Stephenson.[43] Abercrombie suggested the idea of a female character who is half human and half machine, forming the origins of the character Grace.[60] A human-machine character was previously featured in Terminator Salvation.[61]

The film's story was conceived by Miller, Cameron, and Ellison, and a team of writers was hired to write the script. The team included Charles H. Eglee, David S. Goyer and his writing partner Justin Rhodes, and Josh Friedman, creator of the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.[48][62][63][43] Cameron and the writers watched the Terminator sequels that came after his initial films, and it was determined that the storylines of the later films were too complex when it came to time travel.[48][49] Weeks were spent working on the story, which was eventually envisioned as a new Terminator film trilogy.[48][64][65] Goyer wrote a draft for the first film in the trilogy that would ultimately become Terminator: Dark Fate.[43]

Goyer moved on to other projects,[43] and by November 2017, Billy Ray was brought in to polish the script.[62] Ray rewrote much of Goyer's draft. Miller wrote the film's action scenes, while Ray handled the characters.[43] Cameron had a list of action scenes, for no particular film, that he had wanted to shoot over the years, and he gave this list to Miller so he could work them into Terminator: Dark Fate. The list formed the basis for scenes involving a dam and a Humvee underwater.[66] As the start of filming approached, Cameron felt that the script needed improvement and made the changes himself.[48] The film's story credits were given to James Cameron, Charles Eglee, Josh Friedman, David Goyer, and Justin Rhodes; screenplay by David Goyer, Justin Rhodes, and Billy Ray.[67] Cameron said that he and Miller ultimately had many disagreements about the film, but he described it as being part of the creative process.[45]

Miller said that the destruction of Cyberdyne at the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day is an event which would change the future "but no one knew how. And I don't think the movies that came after it really explored that in a clean way like I believe we are, with true consequences, and it makes perfect sense for Sarah to be the one to face those consequences since they were her choices to begin with."[68] One consequence would be the death of John Connor, who was initially meant to become the future leader of the human resistance against machines.[66] The decision to kill the John Connor character came from Cameron, who wanted to surprise audiences who had become invested in the character's mythology: "It's like, 'Let's just get that right off the table. Let's just pull the carpet out from underneath all of our assumptions of what a Terminator movie is going to be about. Let's just put a bullet in his head at a pizzeria in the first 45 seconds.'"[69] Cameron said that John's death serves as "a springboard for the story to show Sarah's ultimate trauma from which she only begins to recover right at the end of the new film. She's driven by hatred, by revenge. ... Her badassery comes from a place of deep hurt and deep pain."[69]

Miller said the decision to kill John was not controversial among him and the other filmmakers. Miller felt that Sarah Connor was best portrayed as an unhappy character, and he said that John's death provided a reason for her to be that way.[66] Miller said about Sarah Connor, "Grief has made her want to be an emotionless killing machine. And at the end of the movie, she's allowing herself to care again, she comes back to humanity. Her shriveled heart has blossomed again. That was the journey". However, Miller did not want Sarah Connor to be an unpleasant and "unwatchable" character, and said, "I think Sarah is tough, but it's not uncomfortable to watch."[43]

Cameron believed that removing John Connor would prevent the film from feeling like a retread of previous films.[70] Discarding John Connor allowed for new characters to be worked into the story. Additionally, Miller said, "You can't have John be a 36-year-old accountant somewhere. And really, when you think about it, he could be sort of a pathetic figure as a man who had missed his moment in history and was relegated to this banal, ordinary existence". Describing the opening scene, Miller said, "You want to slap the audience in the face and say, 'Wake up. This is going to be different.' I feel like that accomplished that. I hate the violence of it. I hate the idea of a kid being shot, but the dramatic fuel that it gives the story is kind of undeniable." In the early stages of development, there was consideration given to the idea that Dani Ramos could be portrayed as John's daughter, or that she could have some other connection to the Connors. However, Miller disliked the idea that she would be related to them.[66] There were never plans to feature John Connor in any other scenes besides the opening.[69] Linda Hamilton was somewhat shocked by the decision to kill John Connor, but she also said she wanted the film series and its characters to evolve.[70] She was pleased with the film's characters, and felt that earlier sequels to Terminator 2 lacked characters that the audience would care about.[71]

Miller was dissatisfied with the final film's idea that Dani would send Grace to the past, saying, "We set up this whole [story] where Grace is kind of Dani's surrogate child and a mother sending her child to die for her is just...yeah, I had a different scene in mind."[72] Additionally, several different endings were considered, including one in which Sarah and Dani would bury Grace, and another in which Grace's body would be burned and sent down a river. Eventually, Miller suggested the idea that Dani would go to see the younger Grace. The ending playground scene was a late addition to the film.[72]

Cameron devised the idea of a T-800 Terminator that is "just out there in this kind of limbo" for more than 20 years after carrying out an order, becoming more human "in the sense that he's evaluating the moral consequences of things that he did, that he was ordered to do back in his early days, and really kind of developing a consciousness and a conscience". Cameron considered this iteration of the character to be more interesting than those featured in his first two films, saying, "We've seen the Terminator that was programmed to be bad; you've seen the one that was programmed to be good, to be a protector. But in both cases, neither one of them have free will."[45] Schwarzenegger enjoys interior decorating, so Cameron suggested that his T-800 character in the film have a drapery business.[73][74][75]

Casting

By April 2017, Schwarzenegger had joined the project to reprise his role.[76][77][78] In September of the same year, it was announced Hamilton would return to reprise her role as Sarah Connor.[79] Hamilton last portrayed the character onscreen in Terminator 2, although she also provided her voice in an uncredited role for Terminator Salvation.[80] Because previous Terminator films did not do well with audiences, Miller felt it was necessary to have Hamilton reprise the role.[68][81] Cameron, Ellison and Miller only wanted to bring back the Sarah Connor character if Hamilton would reprise the role. The film's storyline was devised first so the trio would have an idea to pitch to Hamilton.[48] Cameron said that he sent Hamilton a "long rambling email with a lot of reasons why she should do it and a lot of reasons why she shouldn't." Cameron's main reason for why Hamilton should return was that people liked her in the role.[47] There was never a version of the film that excluded Hamilton, and Miller said there was no backup plan in the event that she declined the role.[82]

After approximately six weeks,[83] Hamilton chose to sign on to the film,[68] which did not yet have a completed script for her to read as it was still being refined.[84] Initially, Hamilton was not sure if she wanted to reprise the role.[85] She had been semi-retired from acting,[86] and said, "I didn't want it to look like a shameless money grab. I am living this quiet, lovely life that doesn't involve being a celebrity, and you really have to think, do I really want to trade that in again for another 15 minutes?"[83] Because so much time had passed since her 1991 appearance as Sarah Connor, Hamilton had assumed that she would never reprise the role, and she was surprised by the offer to do so.[68] Hamilton said about her decision to return, "I was very pleased that all of the years had passed, because I could fill the years up with so much backstory and inner life that could power the character."[84] Hamilton spent more than a year working with a fitness trainer to get into physical shape for the role.[84][68][87] Hamilton said she put 10 times the effort into her physique than she did for Terminator 2. This included a regimen of supplements and bioidentical hormones, as well as training with Green Berets.[88][89] Commenting on Hamilton's role, Cameron said he liked the idea of an action film starring a 62-year-old actress.[90][91] Hamilton chose to dye her hair gray for the film, as she wanted viewers to see her character as an old woman.[92]

The production was also looking to cast an 18 to 20-year-old woman to be the new centerpiece of the story.[79] Hamilton rehearsed lines with several actresses who were auditioning for the role of Dani, and she immediately felt that Natalia Reyes was the right choice.[93] In March 2018, it was announced that Mackenzie Davis had been cast in the film.[16] Miller said about Davis, "I didn't just want a woman who could physically fit the role but emotionally as well. Mackenzie really wanted to do it; she came after the role. She worked harder than anybody."[60] After Davis was cast, she undertook physical training for the film's fight scenes.[94][95] Schwarzenegger and Gabriel Luna also underwent physical training for the film.[96]

Because the film is partially set in Mexico City, the cast includes several Latino actors,[97][98] including Reyes, Luna, and Diego Boneta, who were cast as primary characters in April 2018.[18] Reyes said, "This movie is a reflection of Hollywood now. We are just changing these stereotypes and the ideas and the cliches of what a Latino should be."[97] By June 2018, Jude Collie had been cast as the double for a young John Connor, with Brett Azar reprising his role from Genisys as the body double for a younger T-800.[26]

Cameron announced in July 2019 that Edward Furlong would reprise his role of John Connor from Terminator 2: Judgment Day.[28] Furlong later said that his role in the film was small,[99] and Miller regretted that Cameron made such an announcement.[100] Furlong's likeness was used to digitally recreate his younger face through CGI, and he also gave a performance through motion capture footage of his face that was added into the film.[69][27][100] Furlong is credited as "John Connor reference".[30]

Filming

Production was initially intended to start in March 2018, but was delayed due to casting. It was then expected to start during May and end during November with filming taking place in Hungary, United Kingdom, Spain, and Mexico.[101] In April 2018, the film's release date was delayed to November 2019.[102] Filming began on June 4, 2018, under the working title Terminator 6: Phoenix,[24][103][104] in Isleta del Moro, Almería, Spain.[105][106] The first day of filming involved the pivotal opening scene featuring the characters of the T-800, Sarah Connor, and John Connor. Each of the three characters were portrayed in the scene by body doubles, and digital de-aging was later applied to give them a youthful appearance. The doubles wore special hoods that tracked their head movements, allowing their facial features to be replaced later by new motion-capture facial footage recorded by Schwarzenegger, Hamilton, and Furlong.[100][92][107]

During filming of the opening scene, Hamilton expressed dissatisfaction with the body double's portrayal, feeling that it was not accurately reflective of the character. Hamilton advised the body double on how to portray the character for a more fierce response to the T-800 character. Hamilton was disappointed that she had no onscreen part in the scene and later said, "It wasn't me and it really hurt. I cried my eyes out when I got home."[92][108] For Sarah Connor, the film used more stuntwomen than Terminator 2, and Hamilton said she "really got a little crazy trying to micromanage" them to ensure that they moved the way her character should. For this reason, Hamilton performed some of her own stunts.[109]

Other filming locations in Spain included the Madrid neighborhoods of Pueblo Nuevo and Lavapiés, which stood in as Mexican towns. For these scenes, the film crew repainted cars to resemble taxis and also left old vehicles on the streets to portray abandonment. The Mexican scenes were shot in Spain for budget reasons and because of safety concerns about drug cartels in Mexico.[110] While filming in Spain, Luna coached several actors on how to speak Spanish with a Mexican accent.[97] The film includes a scene in which the characters are held in a detention center on the Mexico–United States border. Miller said the scene was not meant as a social commentary or political statement on immigrant issues related to the border,[43][46][111] stating that the scene was "just a natural evolution of the story". He said about the scene, "I tried to walk a line there because it's a terrible situation, but I didn't want to vilify border guards. They're people doing a job. The system is the problem. And even the choice to do it really wasn't a statement. It really was a function of us putting the story's beginning in central Mexico and then traveling."[43] Miller was emotional while filming the scene due to its depiction of immigrants being held in a detention center.[92][112] Luna said, "We don't make any overt political stances; we just show you what's happening in the world and you receive it however as you may."[112]

Filming subsequently moved to Origo Film Studios in Budapest, Hungary,[113][114][115][116] with the intention of shooting for a month there before filming the rest of the film in the United States.[citation needed] Hamilton said the film's script was the first one that she did not fully understand, because of its large amount of action. Animated previsualization aided the cast during such scenes.[92] In Budapest, special effects supervisor Neil Corbould created the film's largest set piece: the fuselage of a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy plane. The set was constructed on an 85-ton gimbal, the largest ever built. The set was capable of rotating 360 degrees, and could tilt backwards and forwards at 10 degrees. The set was powered by five 200-liter-per-minute hydraulic pumps, as well as more than a mile and a half of hydraulic hoses. A pit had to be dug in the concrete floor of the sound stage to accommodate the large set, which took five months to build. The set allowed the camera crew members to strap themselves inside. The plane set was padded for actors who shot scenes inside it. Foam replicas of military vehicles were also situated inside the plane set with the actors.[117] An underwater action sequence took weeks to shoot, and involved immersing Hamilton and Reyes in a water tank.[92] Davis said shooting the film was "the hardest thing" she had ever done because of the physical requirements.[118]

In late July 2018, Schwarzenegger began filming scenes in Budapest.[119] Filming moved to the United States in mid-October.[120] Schwarzenegger completed filming on October 28, 2018.[121] Filming wrapped in early November 2018.[122]

The film, like Cameron's initial Terminator films, will be rated R, whereas the previous two films were rated PG-13.[123][124][48] Miller said the film would be rated R because "the fans kind of demanded it, in a way", saying that "the DNA of Terminator" is an R-rated movie and that "to not do it R feels disingenuous to the source material".[52][125] Initially, certain scenes were filmed two different ways: with and without R-rated violence and language. This gave the filmmakers an alternative in the event that the film's intended R rating should be reconsidered. The filmmakers eventually abandoned this method after definitively deciding on an R-rated film.[48][64]

During filming, Cameron made further changes to the script to perfect the characters. In some cases, Cameron's script changes were submitted to Miller only a day prior to filming the scene.[48] Hamilton rejected certain lines of dialogue that she felt were uncharacteristic for Sarah Connor.[84][126] Schwarzenegger also added and changed some of his own lines during filming.[92] Cameron did not visit the set, as he was busy filming his Avatar sequels.[48] He also did not want to interfere with Miller's directorial work.[45]

A combination of practical effects and CGI were used for a highway chase sequence in which the Rev-9 pursues Grace, Dani, and Diego.[127] The sequence was initially planned to be twice as long. The Rev-9 would have killed a cop and stolen a motorcycle to continue its pursuit, and the motorcycle would be shot at and destroyed. The Rev-9 would subsequently leap onto a truck and then onto Dani's vehicle. The extended sequence was previsualized, but Miller chose not to film it as the sequence was considered "crazy" enough already. Miller had previously wanted to film the motorcycle sequence for his 2016 film Deadpool.[66]

Post-production

Cameron, who also works as a film editor, was heavily involved in the editing of Terminator: Dark Fate. Cameron saw a rough cut of the film in early 2019, and provided Miller with notes on how to improve the film, as he felt it needed to be perfected. He said the film "transformed quite a bit" from the rough cut.[45] The initial cut of the film, known as an assembly cut, was two hours and 50 minutes. Miller's director's cut was closer to the final film's runtime. Three or four minutes were removed from the director's cut, including a few scenes. Some scenes were also trimmed down, including an underwater fight and those onboard the C-5 airplane.[128]

The opening scene was originally longer as it featured dialogue between Sarah and John. This was cut from the final film as Cameron and Miller believed that the visual effects did not hold up well when the characters spoke.[69][100] Another deleted scene would go into more detail on how Carl knew about other Terminators arriving from the future. The scene, written by Cameron, would explain that Carl created a cell phone app to track the arrivals, which disrupt cell phone signals. The scene was removed because it was considered too humorous compared to the rest of the sequence, which uses a serious tone as it involves Sarah meeting her son's killer.[72] A deleted scene that is expected to be available on the DVD release depicts Dani in the future as she sends Grace to the past.[72] A shot was deleted from Carl's final fight with the Rev-9 that would depict the latter ripping flesh off of Carl's arm. Miller said, "We had to walk the line between gross and horrific," and he described the arm skin as "hanging like a big piece of jerky," saying, "That's where we drew the line."[129]

The visual effects are provided by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Scanline VFX, supervised by Alex Wang, David Seager, Arek Komorowski and Eric Barba as the Production Supervisor with help from Blur Studio, Digital Domain, Method Studios, Unit Image, Rebellion VFX, The Third Floor, Inc. and Cantina Creative.[130] The film contains 2,600 visual effects shots, and was edited using Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects.[131] ILM handled the de-aging in the opening scene.[107]

According to Cameron in February 2019, the film's working title was Terminator: Dark Fate.[132] This was confirmed to be the film's official title the following month.[6]

Music

Terminator: Dark Fate (Music from the Motion Picture)
Film score by
Tom Holkenborg
ReleasedNovember 1, 2019
GenreSoundtrack
Length58:00
LabelParamount Music
Terminator soundtrack chronology
Terminator Genisys
(2015)
Terminator: Dark Fate (Music from the Motion Picture)
(2019)

Tom Holkenborg composed the film's score, reuniting with director Tim Miller after their collaboration in Deadpool.[133] Holkenborg recreated Brad Fiedel's original "Terminator" theme while also introducing Latino elements to reflect the ethnicity of Dani Ramos. Holkenborg used approximately 15 instruments to compose the score, and also used the sound of an anvil and the banging of a washing machine. Holkenborg described his score as being "way more aggressive" than Fiedel's score.[134] The soundtrack was released digitally on November 1, 2019 by Paramount Music.

Soundtrack

All music is composed by Tom Holkenborg.

Terminator: Dark Fate (Music from the Motion Picture)
No.TitleLength
1."Terminated"1:28
2."My Name Is Dani"3:39
3."REV 9"3:10
4."Iron Spike"2:52
5."Enter Sarah"1:00
6."Grace"4:25
7."Drones Coming"1:46
8."The Wall"4:12
9."Terminator"2:57
10."Coyote"2:18
11."The Picture on the Fridge"0:42
12."C5"4:11
13."HUMV"1:59
14."You Saved Me"5:42
15."Screaming Turbines"4:13
16."For John"7:59
17."Epilogue"1:10
18."Dark Fate" (based on "The Terminator Theme" from the film The Terminator composed by Brad Fiedel)4:20
Total length:58:00

Marketing

The cast of Terminator: Dark Fate promoting the film at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con.

A first-look promotional image showing the film's three lead actresses was released in August 2018. It was the subject of some Internet comments showing concern for an all-female reboot of the franchise following the repeated failures of similar projects.[135][136][137][138] A teaser trailer for the film was released on May 23, 2019,[139] and features the cover version of Björk's "Hunter" performed by John Mark McMillan.[140][141] The film's theatrical and international trailers were released on August 29, 2019.[142][143] The trailers' release date marked the anniversary of the original Judgment Day date given in the second film.[144] Initially, the marketing campaign highlighted the return of Cameron and Hamilton. In the final months, the campaign focused more on the film's action and special effects. Promotional partners included Adobe Inc. and Ruffles.[145] In September 2019, Adobe and Paramount Pictures launched a contest for people to create their own remix version of the trailer using Adobe software and assets from the film.[146]

In early October 2019, brief footage of the film was shown during IMAX screenings of Joker. Miller and the cast went on a global press tour to promote the film, and Hamilton attended a premiere event in Seoul on October 21, 2019.[145]

Schwarzenegger's character has a van which advertises "Carl's Draperies 888-512-1984" on the side of it. This is a real number that leads to a voice recording of the actor pretending to be the character. The number references May 12, 1984, the date that Kyle Reese time-travels to in the first film.[147][148]

Merchandise

The 2019 video game Gears 5 allows the player to play as either Sarah Connor with Hamilton voicing her character or a T-800 Terminator model. The game was released on September 6, 2019.[149] The T-800 model was later a downloadable playable character in Mortal Kombat 11, using Schwarzenegger's likeness, but without the actor voicing the character. The downloadable content was released on October 8, 2019.[150][151][152] A mobile game, titled Terminator: Dark Fate – The Game, is scheduled for release on November 1, 2019.[153] National Entertainment Collectibles Association released action figures based on the film, and Chronicle Collectibles released an 18-inch T-800 statue.[154]

Release

The film was released in the UK on October 23, 2019[155] and was scheduled to be released on November 1, 2019 by Paramount Pictures in North America, Tencent Pictures in China, 20th Century Fox outside of North America and China.[1][156][157] On October 19, 2019, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema hosted surprise screenings of the film in 15 theaters, disguised as screenings of Terminator 2: Judgment Day.[158] The film's premiere event in the U.S. was to be held on October 28, 2019, at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, but it was cancelled because of nearby wildfires.[159][160]

Reception

Box office

As of November 20, 2019, Terminator: Dark Fate has grossed $58.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $176.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $234.9 million.[4][5] With a production budget between $185–196 million, and an additional $80–100 million spent on marketing, the film will need to gross $450–480 million worldwide in order to break-even.[3][10] Following its poor global debut, it was estimated the film could end up losing Paramount and Skydance $100–130 million.[161][10]

In the United States and Canada, Dark Fate was released alongside Harriet, Arctic Dogs, and Motherless Brooklyn, and was initially projected to gross $40–47 million from 4,086 theaters in its opening weekend.[162] The film made $2.35 million from Thursday night previews, on-par with the $2.3 million that Genisys made from its Tuesday night previews in 2015, but after making just $10.6 million on its first day, weekend estimates were lowered to $27 million. It went on to debut to $29 million. Although it finished first at the box office, it was the lowest opening in the series since the original film (when accounting for inflation), which was blamed on the lukewarm critical reception, as well as audience perception that the series had run its course.[3] The film made $10.8 million in its second weekend, dropping 63% and finishing fifth, and then $4.3 million in its third weekend, falling to 11th.[163][164]

In Germany, the film started out with 132,500 spectators, placing it third on that week's charts.[165] In the weekend following its international debut, the film grossed $12.8 million from countries in Europe and Asia, considered a low start.[166][167] The film was projected to gross $125 million globally during the first weekend of November 2019.[58] Instead, it only made $101.9 million (18% below projections), including $72.9 million overseas. Like in the U.S., the film under-performed in China, where it opened to just $28.2 million, far below the $40–50 million estimates.[3][168]

Critical response

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 71% and an average rating of 6.23/10, based on 301 reviews. The website's critics consensus reads, "Terminator: Dark Fate represents a significant upgrade over its immediate predecessors, even if it lacks the thrilling firepower of the franchise's best installments."[169] On Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the film has a score of 54 out of 100, based on 50 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[170] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, the same score as its previous three predecessors, while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 78% (including an average three out of five stars) and a 51% "definite recommend".[3]

The Hollywood Reporter wrote that critics overall seemed "cautiously excited about Dark Fate, although there's a certain awkwardness about seeing repeated recommendations that it is 'easily the third-best' movie in the series".[171] William Bibbiani of TheWrap wrote that "Whether Terminator: Dark Fate is the last chapter in this story or the first in an all-new franchise is, for now, irrelevant. The film works either way, bringing the tale of the first two films to a satisfying conclusion while reintroducing the classic storyline, in exciting new ways, to an excited new audience. It's a breathtaking blockbuster, and a welcome return to form."[172] Variety's Owen Gleiberman called the film "the first vital Terminator sequel since Terminator 2" and wrote that "Terminator: Dark Fate is a movie designed to impress you with its scale and visual effects, but it's also a film that returns, in good and gratifying ways, to the smartly packaged low-down genre-thriller classicism that gave the original Terminator its kick."[173]

Many fans and critics expressed disappointment and/or anger over the decision to kill off John Connor in the opening scene.[174] Fred Hawson of ABS-CBN News wrote: "By deciding to lose John Connor early on in this one made the emotional heart of the first two classic Terminator films stop beating as well."[175] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times argued that killing John Connor ruined what the previous two films established: "Even though Dark Fate tosses aside the third, fourth and fifth entries in the series like a Terminator disposing of a hapless cop, it also undercuts the impact of the first film and the follow-up (which is one of the two or three greatest sequels of all time). First, they get rid of the John Connor character in almost casual fashion."[176] He also stated: "This three-quel, if you will, is so derivative of Judgment Day, they should have asked us to forget about that movie as well if they wanted us to believe it has anything fresh or original to add to the franchise."[176] Corey Plante of Inverse, who was critical of Furlong's portrayal of the character in Terminator 2, ironically found his character's death off-putting: "The character at the focus of every previous Terminator movie — the same young boy I irrationally hated since I was a young boy myself — was dead. Needless to say, it rattled me."[177] He also found that replacing him with new heroes undermined the Connors' importance that the previous films had established: "The future that made [Sarah Connor] important died with John, and now there's a new Terminator story with a new set of heroes that makes it seem like no matter how many times Skynet or its next iteration sends a murder robot back in time to kill someone, there will always be a new hero waiting to rise up."[177] Michael O'Sullivan reported that the twist proved controversial with audiences in Europe and Asia.[178] Robert Yaniz Jr described the twist as unthinkable: "In an instant, the entire crux of the franchise — the human resistance led by John — is torn away."[179] Dani Di Placido of Forbes put the killing of John Connor at the top of his list of things wrong with Dark Fate and predicted it would become a box office bomb because of it: "Those first five minutes completely disregard the only sequel that fans love - Terminator 2. What was the point of all that struggle, all of Sarah's desperate attempts to keep herself, and her son, alive? John Connor might be dead weight at this point, narratively speaking, but he was our main connection to the original films, and his death renders both of those movies pointless."[180] Matt Goldberg felt the opening did irreparable damage to the legacy of Terminator 2 by rendering it pointless: "Every sequel since has diminished the ending of Judgment Day because the story “needs” to continue (because studios like money and can't leave well enough alone). But Terminator: Dark Fate may be the worst offender thus far as its prologue directly follows T2 and goes for shock value rather than considering what it means to continue the narrative."[181] Richard Trenholm felt the opening twist summed up everything wrong with Dark Fate: "The joy [of seeing the de-aged characters] instantly becomes cringeworthy, as this prologue undermines Terminator 2 by killing a major character in such a cursory fashion it just feels silly."[182]

Ian Sandwell of Digital Spy counteracted the twist, saying that John Connor only existed to "motivate the other characters and sets the plot in motion" and also pointed out that Sarah's actions only delayed the rise of Skynet's machines but not humanity's, putting John's position in the new timeline into question.[174] However, even Linda Hamilton herself expressed her dissatisfaction with the cold opening and was very critical of the way her younger character was depicted in it: "I just was so upset that I didn't really have anything to do with it, Sarah was not putting up the fight that was written in the scene and I'm like no, no, no, no. My body would be doing different things, more fierce. She's not gonna just let him knock her away, she would be biting him, she'd be grabbing his arm -- not that arm, grab the arm with the gun! It wasn't me and it really hurt." She also revealed that: "I cried my eyes out when I got home."[183]

Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal gave the film a negative review, describing it as: "cobbled together by dunces in a last-ditch effort to wring revenue from a moribund concept. The plot makes no sense—time travel as multiverse Dada. Worse still, it renders meaningless the struggles that gave the first two films of the franchise an epic dimension."[184] Jefferey M. Anderson of Common Sense Media gave the movie 2 out of 5 stars: "This sixth Terminator movie erases the events of the previous three (dud) sequels but winds up feeling half-erased itself. It's like a dull, pale, irrelevant carbon copy of a once glorious hit."[185] Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com also gave Dark Fate only 2 out of 5 stars feeling that it suffered from "empty fanservice" and that Linda Hamilton and her supporting female cast "deserves better".[186] David Ehrlich of Indiewire praised Linda Hamilton's performance and the movie's digital recreations of her, Furlong's and Schwarzenegger's respective younger likenesses, but felt "this painfully generic action movie proves that the Terminator franchise is obsolete."[187] Whereas Terminator 2: Judgment Day was praised for its groundbreaking CGI, some critics found the CGI in Dark Fate's action scenes left a lot to be desired. Tasha Robinson of The Verge critiqued such scenes for "CGI blurs and muddy action [that] are hard to follow in even the most basic “who's where, and are they dead?” kind of way. And when Dark Fate does deign to explain what's going on, it delivers its exposition in a self-important, hushed, clumsy way, as if audiences should be astonished by the most basic plot revelations."[188] Fred Topel found the new protagonists to be grossly underdeveloped: "It was a mistake not to build Dani up the way John Connor was, and the film never earns the relationship it wants Grace and Dani to have." He was also critical of the way the film teamed these characters up with the T-800 that killed John Connor: "The explanation for why he's good in Terminator: Dark Fate is so stupid. I get what they were trying to do. The enemy of my enemy is my friend and they need a terminator to fight the Rev-9. The explanation for the terminator's turn is so thin it sounds like a plot synopsis they forgot to elaborate into a full scene. Terminator 3 went overboard with the gay bar and outdated catchphrases like “talk to the hand,” but Dark Fate is sillier. I found Pops in Genisys a more compelling aging terminator."[189] Dani Di Placido found the return of Carl almost satirical. "The return of the T-800 that killed John was my favorite part of the film, but in an ironic sense; the fact that the killing machine retired and raised a family was like something out of Rick and Morty. This was genuinely a funny concept, but did not belong in this franchise; Sarah Connor's relentless battle with these machines shouldn't have been reduced to a series of Marvel-esque one-liners."[180] Angie Han of Mashable found the film so underwhelming that she found its title to be quite ironic: "Dark Fate is too thinly sketched to be anything but pastiche. It feels like a Terminator movie spit out by a machine designed to make Terminator movies. A dark fate for the franchise, indeed."[190]

Miller said the film was never meant to be better than Terminator 2. Regarding the mixed reception, Miller believed that audiences were predisposed to dislike the film after being disappointed by the last three films. Miller also believed that audiences "hate it because it's the sixth movie, and Hollywood should be making original movies and not repeating franchises".[46]

Cancelled sequels

Plans for a new Terminator film trilogy were announced in July 2017.[55] While working on the story for Terminator: Dark Fate that year, Cameron and the writers envisioned the film as the first in the new trilogy. They also worked out the basic storylines for each planned film.[48][64][65][191]

By October 2019, Gale Anne Hurd had filed to terminate a copyright grant made 35 years earlier. Under this move, Hurd would again become a 50-percent owner of the rights with Cameron, and Skydance Media could lose the rights to make any additional Terminator films beginning in November 2020, unless a new deal is worked out. Skydance responded that it had a deal in place with Cameron and that it "controls the rights to the Terminator franchise for the foreseeable future."[192] In October 2019, Cameron said that sequels to Terminator: Dark Fate would further explore the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence, while stating that a resolution between the two feuding sides would be the ultimate outcome.[191][193] That month, Schwarzenegger said that Cameron would write the Terminator: Dark Fate sequels, and that Cameron would begin work on the next film in early 2020, for release in 2022.[194]

Although the events of Terminator: Dark Fate erase Schwarzenegger's T-800 character from existence, Cameron did not rule out the possibility of Schwarzenegger reprising the character: "Look, if we make a ton of money with this film [Terminator: Dark Fate] and the cards say that they like Arnold, I think Arnold can come back. I'm a writer. I can think of scenarios. We don't have a plan for that right now, let me put it that way."[195] Hamilton said in October 2019 that she would probably reprise her role for a sequel,[196] although she joked that she would fake her own death to avoid appearing in it, saying that making Terminator: Dark Fate "really was hard" because of the physical training she had to undergo.[197][198]

Following the film's underwhelming opening in box-office, sources close to Skydance told The Hollywood Reporter that there are no plans for further films.[161]

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