Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jonathan Mostow
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Based on Characters
by James Cameron
and Gale Anne Hurd
Music by Marco Beltrami
Cinematography Don Burgess
Edited by
Distributed by
Release date
  • June 30, 2003 (2003-06-30)
(West Hollywood premiere)
  • July 2, 2003 (2003-07-02)
(United States)
Running time
109 minutes[2]
Language English
Budget $187.3 million ($167.3 million excluding production overhead)
Box office $433.4 million

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (also referred to as Terminator 3 or T3) is a 2003 American science-fiction action film[3] directed by Jonathan Mostow and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes and Kristanna Loken. It is the third installment in the Terminator film series, following Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and The Terminator (1984). It does not involve James Cameron, who directed and wrote the first two films. It grossed over $434 million worldwide.

After Skynet failed to kill Sarah Connor before her son John Connor (Stahl) was born, and also failed to kill John Connor as a child, Skynet now sends another Terminator back in time, the T-X (Loken), in an attempt to wipe out as many Human Resistance officers as possible. This includes John Connor's future wife, Kate Brewster (Danes), but not John himself as his whereabouts are unknown to Skynet. John's life is placed in danger when the T-X finds him while pursuing Kate. The Resistance has also sent their own Terminator (Schwarzenegger) back to protect the T-X's targets.

The film was followed by a sequel Terminator Salvation (2009).


John Connor has been living off the grid in Los Angeles following the death of his mother, Sarah Connor. Although a war between humans and Skynet's forces did not occur on August 29, 1997, as foretold, John still fears it. He rejects his fate as humanity's savior and hides from Skynet.

Unable to locate John in the past, Skynet sends a new model of the Terminator called the T-X to July 24, 2004, to kill other members of the Human Resistance instead. The T-X is more advanced than previous Terminators: it has an endoskeleton with built-in weaponry, a liquid metal exterior similar to the T-1000, and it can reprogram other machines after injecting nanorobotics. This model is also designed to eliminate other Skynet-related machines. Unlike previous Terminators, its default appearance is female. The Resistance again sends a reprogrammed Terminator (T-850 – Model 101) to protect the T-X's targets, including John and his future wife, Kate Brewster.

After killing several other targets, the T-X locates Kate and John at an animal hospital, where Kate has caught John stealing drugs. They escape with the Terminator's help. The next day, the Terminator takes them to a mausoleum where John's mother is supposedly interred. Inside her vault, they find a weapons cache left at Sarah's request in case Judgment Day occurred. Police arrive and a gun battle ensues. The T-X also chases them, but they escape. The Terminator reveals that John and his mother's actions merely delayed Judgment Day, and that his plan is to drive John and Kate to Mexico to escape the fallout when Skynet begins its nuclear attack at 6:18 p.m. John orders the Terminator to take Kate and him to see Kate's father, a Lieutenant General who, in the present, is supervising the building of Skynet after Cyberdyne Systems went defunct. John threatens to kill himself if the Terminator refuses. The Terminator calls John's bluff but agrees to take them after Kate orders him to. The Terminator reveals that he killed John on July 4, 2032; Kate sent him back after having him captured and reprogrammed, and she is the only one who can give him orders.

Meanwhile, at an Air Force base, General Brewster faces pressure from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to activate Skynet to stop an anomalous computer virus of unknown origin from invading servers worldwide; he is unaware that the virus is actually Skynet establishing control over them. John and Kate arrive too late to stop Skynet from being activated, and its machines begin attacking Brewster's staff. Brewster is mortally wounded by the T-X, which arrived before John, Kate, and the Terminator. Before dying, he gives Kate and John a code book and the location of what John believes is Skynet's system core. John and Kate head for the tarmac to take General Brewster's biplane; their destination is Crystal Peak, a military base built inside the Sierra Nevada. The T-X and the T-850 fight each other. The T-X severely damages the T-850, then reprograms it to kill John and Kate. The T-X pursues John and Kate through the military base, but it becomes trapped when a particle accelerator is activated and the magnetic field bonds the T-X to the accelerator. The Terminator, unable to control his outer functions but still consciously aware, attacks John and Kate before John convinces it to reject the T-X's control. The Terminator deliberately shuts its corrupted system down, enabling John and Kate to escape. Shortly after they leave, the Terminator's system reboots.

John and Kate reach Crystal Peak and begin entering the access codes to gain entry when the T-X arrives by helicopter. Just as she is about to attack, the rebooted Terminator arrives in a second helicopter and crashes into the T-X, crushing it. The T-X pulls itself from the wreckage and attempts to drag itself inside the bunker to follow John and Kate. The Terminator holds the bunker open long enough for John and Kate to lock themselves inside, then uses one of its hydrogen fuel cells to destroy both itself and the T-X.

John and Kate discover that the facility is not Skynet's core, but rather a nuclear fallout shelter and command facility for government and military officials. Skynet has no core and it has become a part of cyberspace after its self-awareness. Judgment Day begins as Skynet fires nuclear missiles across the world, starting a nuclear holocaust that kills billions. John and Kate begin receiving radio transmissions on the emergency equipment; John tentatively assumes command by answering radio calls, and they reluctantly accept their fate.


Reprising his role from the first two films, this was Schwarzenegger's final film role before becoming Governor of California.
Edward Furlong, who played John in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, was reportedly not asked to reprise his role in T3 because of a substance abuse problem. Furlong stated "I don't know [what happened]. It just wasn't the time. I was going through my own thing at the point in my life – whatever, it just wasn't meant to be".[4]
The first on-screen female Terminator.
In a 2005 interview on NPR's Fresh Air, Danes revealed she was cast in the role as a last-minute replacement after producers felt that actress Sophia Bush was too young to portray the character.[citation needed]
Kate's father and Skynet's primary creator.
Kate Brewster's slain fiancé was originally named Scott Peterson, but the name was changed in order to avoid association with the Scott Peterson case involving the murder of Laci Peterson and her unborn son Conner.[5] In the ending credits his name is still listed as "Scott Peterson".
Reprising his role from the first two films, Boen appears in one scene, attempting to comfort Claire Danes' character after she witnesses the acts of the Terminator. Boen and Schwarzenegger are the only actors to appear in all of the first three Terminator films. This is also Boen's final film role before his retirement from his film career to focus on his voice-acting career.

Jay Acovone portrayed an LAPD Officer. Kim Robillard and Mark Hicks portrayed as Detective Edwards and Detective Bell. In the film's dialogue Bell is identified correctly, however in the film's end credits his name is listed as "Detective Martinez".

Linda Hamilton was approached to reprise her role as Sarah Connor, but turned the offer down. She explained her decision by saying: "They offered me a part. I read it and I knew my character arc was so complete in the first two, and in the third one it was a negligible character. She died halfway through and there was no time to mourn her. It was kind of disposable, so I said no thank you."[6]


James Cameron announced Terminator 3 many times during the 1990s, but without a finished script in place. In 1997, Terminator 2: Judgment Day developer Carolco Pictures went bankrupt, and its assets were bound to a liquidation auction. These included 50% of the Terminator franchise rights, as the other half remained with The Terminator producer Gale Anne Hurd. Cameron and 20th Century Fox had some interest, even arranging meetings with Hurd regarding her share and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger returning in the starring role. Eventually, budgetary concerns and Cameron's troubled post-production of Titanic for Fox lead them to back out of the plans.[7] Carolco founders Mario Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna purchased the rights for $7.5 million, and the following year got Hurd's half to become full owners of the franchise.[8] The duo then founded a new company named C2 Pictures in 1999, and hired screenwriter Tedi Sarafian for the film, along with David C. Wilson for a possible fourth installment.[9] Sarafian's script featured John Connor working in a dot-com company when a female Terminator that could turn invisible arrives from the future.[10] Jonathan Mostow signed as the director in March 2001.[11] Feeling dissatisfied with Sarafian's script, Mostow invited his college classmates John Brancato and Michael Ferris to rework the screenplay over a whole year. Sarafian still got a story credit.[10]

Kassar and Vajna were unsure whether Arnold Schwarzenegger would appear in the film. Schwarzenegger initially refused to star in the third film because Cameron, who created the character and helmed the first two films, would not be directing the third installment. Schwarzenegger tried to persuade Cameron to produce the third film. Cameron declined involvement with the film, and it was initially reported that he felt that he had already told the whole story in the first two films. Nevertheless, feeling that the Terminator character was as much Schwarzenegger's as it was his own, he advised Schwarzenegger to just do the third film.[12] Cameron would later state that he refused to direct or produce Terminator 3 because he disliked the idea of working from somebody else's script in a story he originated.[13]

When Schwarzenegger was called into Mario Kassar and Andrew Vajna's office in April 2001, he did not expect them to bring up Terminator 3 given the film's long stint in development hell. Instead, he wanted to talk to the producers about his political interests, including a potential candidacy as Governor of California in the 2002 election. However, preproduction was rolling along, with the screenplay nearly finished and set deals for both merchandising and distribution. Schwarzenegger was forced to postpone his gubernatorial plans (which eventually came into fruition during postproduction, as the rising unpopularity of governor Gray Davis led to a recall election). Instead, the actor combined production of the film with the promotion of Proposition 49, which advocated increased extracurricular activity in California schools. At times Schwarzenegger even received politicians, journalists, and potential financial backers of the proposition on the film set.[14]


Box office[edit]

The film's production budget was initially set at $169–170 million,[15][16] making it the most expensive film ever to be greenlit at the time.[17][18] Budget statements for the film put the final cost at $187.3 million (or $167.3 million excluding the production overhead).[19][20] Schwarzenegger received a salary of $29.25 million, plus 20 percent of the profits,[19] although he agreed to defer part of his salary in order to prevent the relocation of the set to Vancouver, British Columbia, from Los Angeles.[21]

The film earned a worldwide gross of $433 million,[2] 17% less than Terminator 2: Judgment Day's worldwide gross of $519.8 million,[22] not adjusting for inflation.

Critical response[edit]

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines received generally favorable reviews from critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 70% approval rating with an average rating of 6.6/10 based on 204 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Although T3 never reaches the heights of the second movie, it is a welcome addition to the Terminator franchise."[23] On Metacritic, the film received a score of 66 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews." [24] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[25]

Shortly after the film's release, Terminator creator James Cameron described the film as "in one word: great",[26] but after the release of the fourth film, Terminator Salvation, Cameron stated he felt his first two films were better than either of the later films.[27] A. O. Scott of The New York Times said the film "is essentially a B movie, content to be loud, dumb and obvious".[28] Roger Ebert gave the film two-and-a-half stars, remarking "Essentially one long chase and fight, punctuated by comic, campy or simplistic dialogue."[29]


Year Award Category Result Recipient Source
2003 California on Location Awards Assistant Location Manager of the Year Won Leann Emmert
2004 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actor Nominated Arnold Schwarzenegger [30]
MTV Movie Awards Best Action Sequence Nominated Champion Crane Chase [31]
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top Box Office Films Won Marco Beltrami
Yoga Awards Worst Trilogy Won James Cameron


Video games[edit]

Several video games were based on the film. An action game called Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was released by Atari for Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Game Boy Advance. The game was poorly reviewed, with a 39% average on GameRankings for the PS2 version.[32] A first-person shooter titled Terminator 3: War of the Machines was released for the PC.[33] A third game, titled Terminator 3: The Redemption, was released for Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo GameCube.[34]


The film was followed by another sequel in 2009 entitled Terminator Salvation, a post-apocalyptic film set in the year 2018, fourteen years after the events of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b IM International Media AG (2010). "Terminator 3 – Rise of the Machines". Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
  3. ^ "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) - Jonathan Mostow - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie. 
  4. ^ Morris, Clint (July 1, 2005). "Exclusive Interview: Edward Furlong". Moviehole.com. 
  5. ^ Knight, Brad (April 2005). Laci Peterson: the whole story: Laci, Scott, and Amber's deadly love triangle By Brad Knight. ISBN 978-0-595-34750-6. 
  6. ^ Eric Ditzian (February 19, 2009). "Linda Hamilton In Negotiations For 'Terminator Salvation'". MTV Movies Blog. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  7. ^ Chris Petrikin. "Fox, Cameron opting out of 'Terminator 3′". Variety. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  8. ^ Chris Petrikin,Benedict Carver. "Kassar & Vajna redux". Variety. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  9. ^ Michael Fleming. "'T2′ times two". Variety. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "Switching drivers". latimes. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  11. ^ Michael Fleming. "Mostow morphs to 'Terminator 3′". Variety. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  12. ^ Downey, Ryan J. (December 26, 2002). "He Said He'd Be Back — Schwarzenegger Talks 'Terminator 3'". MTV News. Retrieved July 16, 2017. 
  13. ^ Nathan, Ian (2013). Terminator Vault. London: Aurum Press Ltd. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-78131-126-4. 
  14. ^ Schwarzenegger, Arnold (2012). Total Recall. United States: Simon & Schuster. pp. 470–7. ISBN 978-1-84983-971-6. 
  15. ^ Epstein, Edward J. "Budget for T-3 with Arnold Schwarzenegger". edwardjayepstein.com. Retrieved November 11, 2010. 
  16. ^ Dutka, Elaine (December 12, 2001). "Arts And Entertainment Reports From The Times, News Services And The Nation's Press". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 11, 2010. 
  17. ^ Brodesser, Claude (December 2, 2001). "Inside Move: He's back, but who's got him?". Variety. Retrieved November 11, 2010. 
  18. ^ Hayes, D., 2003. "The candid candidate". Variety, August 7, 2003. Retrieved December 8, 2009. Archived at https://www.webcitation.org/5lrxG661s?url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117890558.html?categoryid%3D1308%26cs%3D1%26query%3Dterminator%2B3%2Bbudget%2B%24170.
  19. ^ a b Epstein, Edward J. (May 9, 2005). "Concessions Are for Girlie Men". Slate. The Washington Post Company. Retrieved November 11, 2010. 
  20. ^ Block, Alex Ben; Wilson, Lucy Autrey, eds. (2010). George Lucas's Blockbusting: A Decade-By-Decade Survey of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets of Their Financial and Cultural Success. HarperCollins. p. 832. ISBN 978-0-06-177889-6. 
  21. ^ Elmer, Greg; Gasher, Mike (2005). Contracting Out Hollywood: Runaway Productions and Foreign Location Shooting (Critical Media Studies: Institutions, Politics, and Culture). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 3–4. ISBN 978-0-7425-3695-1. Retrieved November 11, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Terminator 2: Judgment Day (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-03-26. 
  23. ^ "Terminator 3 – Rise of the Machines (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  24. ^ "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines". 
  25. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com. 
  26. ^ "James Cameron's Opinion of T3: Great". CountingDown.com. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  27. ^ "James Cameron Says His "Terminator" Films are Better". Worst Previews. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  28. ^ Scott, A. O. (July 1, 2003). "Film Review; A Monotonic Cyborg Learns To Say 'Pantsuit'". The New York Times. 
  29. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 7, 2003). "Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  30. ^ "2004 Teen Choice Awards Winners". Billboard. June 6, 2004. Retrieved March 11, 2018. 
  31. ^ "2004 MTV Movie Award Winners!". ComingSoon.net. June 6, 2004. Retrieved March 11, 2018. 
  32. ^ "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines". GameRankings. Retrieved 2006-07-24. 
  33. ^ "Terminator 3: War of the Machines". GameRankings. Retrieved 2006-07-24. 
  34. ^ "Terminator 3: The Redemption". GameRankings. Retrieved 2006-07-24. 

External links[edit]