How do you revive a classic Hollywood movie franchise that’s outlived its relevance and popularity? Easy, bring back all the key players from the height of its success. Presuming, of course, that these aging participants have enough gas left in their tanks to pull off the action bits… not that advancing age has ever stopped Arnold Schwarzenegger!
The Terminator (1984) is one of the all-time great Hollywood sci-fi franchises, emerging out of the sci-fi-crazy 80s — an era that included Back to the Future, Tron, E.T., Star Trek II, The Thing, Predator, Aliens, and Robocop. Though there’s been no less than five Terminator films, by far the best (and most beloved by fans) is T2: Judgment Day (1991), which also happened to be the final entry for actress Linda Hamilton and creator/director James Cameron — Arnold has been a fixture in each Terminator film to-date, for better or worse.
Unfortunately, after T2, each subsequent sequel was met with cooler and cooler fan response, and correspondingly lower box office results — Terminator: Genisys failed to even crack $100 million domestically (although it did much better overseas). The law of economics suggested that it was time to retire The Terminator, the unstoppable machine was finally defeated by a combination of poor scripts and audience apathy.
Part of the reason for the franchise’s decline was the absence of its creator. According to Business Insider, Cameron was a little-known director and visual artist in the early 80s when he originally came up with the idea for The Terminator. He petitioned several studios to be its director, but lacked the credentials to make the risk worthwhile. He eventually sold the rights $1 to producer Gale Anne Hurd, with the promise that he could direct, and the rest is moviemaking history.
In 2019 those rights return to Cameron, who’s already plotted out a new trilogy that takes place after the events of T2. In other words, a partial reboot that jettisons Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009), and Terminator: Genisys (2015) from its canon.
This is significant because Hamilton’s character, Sarah Conner, was killed off before the start of Terminator 3. According to The Hollywood Reporter, following the announcement of Terminator 6, Cameron has moved quickly to contract both Hamilton and Schwarzenegger — more than 25 years after their T2 appearances. It’s unclear how their characters will be portrayed, but indications are that they’ll be in supporting roles.
Cameron recently told The Guardian that he’s seeking a female lead actor, “an 18-something woman to be the centerpiece of the new story. We will have characters from the future and the present. There will be mostly new characters but we’ll have Arnold and Linda’s characters to anchor it.”
Casting a strong female lead is nothing new for Cameron. He hired Hamilton, a struggling TV actress, after her starring role in Children of the Corn, a middling Stephen King adaptation. Cameron’s original script called for an actress with vulnerability and a deep reserve of hidden strength. Hamilton more than met the challenge in both The Terminator and T2. Hamilton is now 60-years-old, so it will be interesting to see how her role evolves.
The Terminator 6 will be directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool) in a script written by James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic). Skydance Media is expected to finance the film (Skydance founder David Ellison previously funded Terminator: Genysis). A release date has not been specified as of this writing.