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The Enduring Success of the Terminator Franchise

By: On February 28th, 2018

When James Cameron submitted the first screenplay for the Terminator back in the early 1980s; it was amazing that the production companies that helped to finance and make the film didn’t initially laugh him off. Cameron was an up and coming director, and he didn’t exactly have any big name or big budget experience under his belt, so to turn up with a script for a post-apocalyptic thriller featuring robots, it’s amazing that the Terminator got so far. What he did have however, was tons of visual effects experience, working on movies like Escape from New York and the Piranha series, so someone at Orion pictures (and the three other companies including Hemdale and producer Gale Anne Hurd that greenlit the original Terminator movie) must have seen something behind the concept.

The Terminator was born in a dream that Cameron had whilst lying in bed in the grips of a fever. He was being chased by a shiny, silver robotic torso that was wielding a kitchen knife, the image was so vivid that it sparked Cameron to write a screenplay.
By 1982, the film had been given a $4 million budget, which was then raised to $6.4 million to help bring the story, characters and of course machines to life.

Although firmly within the Sci-Fi genre, Cameron didn’t really want The Terminator to be all about the technology and he certainly wasn’t looking for the kind of family-friendly story which was popular with other Sci-Fi movies at the time; including Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars. He had enjoyed Halloween and other slasher flicks from the 1970s, and originally built the concept around a threatening android hell-bent on murder. With a bit of tweaking, The Terminator was given elements of time travel and a post-apocalyptic storyline, building it into the series-starter that kicked off a saga of movies that have made over $1.8 billion at the box office.
The franchise is now one of the most successful in movie history and has kicked off DVD sales, and movie tie-ins and merchandise worth millions of dollars. Fans can purchase everything from life-size replicas of the Terminator endoskeleton, action figures, and they can even play a virtual slot game featuring the full Terminator theme. The creative minds behind the Terminator franchise clearly recognised the huge demand for online slot games; they gave full permission for the best in the business to develop a game based on the popular films. The game has been embraced by many online gaming sites, and it’s not a surprise, it offers hours of fun. This game is just one of many great slot games available online.
Online slots have really risen in popularity lately, there are slot games covering a huge range of films and popular subject areas, making them a hit with online players.

The future of special effects

James Cameron is something of a genius when it comes to special effects, and later films like Avatar and Titanic have proven the willingness Cameron has to use cutting-edge technology as well as clever practical effects.
Back in 1984, we didn’t have the wonders of CGI yet, and directors were lucky if they could get enough cameras never mind the practical effects needed to bring a killer robot to life. This is where the real appeal of the Terminator series started, with a mesmerizing mix of practical effects, rear projection and stop motion- which turned the already menacing Arnold Schwarzenegger into a truly terrifying hunk of metal that is sent back in time to kill Sarah Conner (played by Linda Hamilton) and prevent the birth of a son who will save humanity.

On the subject of Mr. Schwarzenegger; he was chosen for a number of reasons. They needed someone large and imposing, they needed someone who would have international appeal, so it made sense to choose the former Mr. Universe and Conan the Barbarian star who was just becoming hot property.  Amazingly, Schwarzenegger was denied the opportunity to provide the dubbed voice acting for the German version of the movie, as his thick Austrian accent apparently made him sound more of a farmer than a killer robot!

Undoubtedly, some of the best scenes in The Terminator are the ones involving the transformation of the skin-clad machine into the terrifying, metallic skeleton that can take a real beating. Originally, Cameron planned to have a Terminator more like the T-1000 seen in Terminator 2, but lacked the technology at the time to bring a liquid Terminator to life. Cameron used puppetry and makeup for close ups, but then stop motion for wider shots and scenes where the Terminator needed to run.

Although The Terminator laid the groundwork, it was Terminator 2: Judgement Day that really changed the way the industry made movies. Released in 1991 with a budget of around $100 million, Cameron was given some real galloping room with the sequel, and boy did he go all out. Terminator 2 saw extensive use of CGI, including bringing the menacing T-1000 to life as the antagonist, complete with liquid metal effects and visuals that were revolutionary in the film world at the time. The CGI effects cost over $5 million alone, almost the same as the entire budget for the first movie, and were done by Industrial Light and Magic, George Lucas’ highly successful special effects studio.

The Terminator Universe and the next generation of movies

The beauty of creating such a complex world and a storyline that ultimately ends in the apocalypse with the potential for alternate storylines and other time-alterations made by the Terminators was (and still is) simply staggering. We’ve already had several movies that have explored the origins of SkyNet and the fall of humanity, but the good news is that both original director Cameron and original Terminator Schwarzenegger have potentially signed up for more.
Although not met with such a good reception by audiences and critics, 2015’s Terminator Genysis (featuring Schwarzenegger’s return to the series) managed a whopping $440 million at the box office, showing that there’s still plenty of demand for the continuation of the franchise.

Hopefully a return to form from Cameron and Schwarzenegger can be enough to get the franchise back on track. We’re excited to see which direction this legendary series will go in next, especially if Cameron breaks the limits once again to deliver a whole new way of presenting Sci-Fi/horror/action. But with the original Terminator director tied up with the next films in the Avatar series, we may be waiting some time to find out if he will once again direct a Terminator movie himself.

Categories: Arnold SchwarzeneggerArticlesAvatarBrad FiedelCastCollectiblesDirectorsFansGale Anne HurdGamingHemdaleJames CameronLicensingLife-SizeMoviesMusicOnlineOrionProducersScience & TechnologyScience FictionSlotsTerminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)Terminator 6Terminator: GenisysThe Terminator (1984)Time Travel


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Genisys overall $440 million via international gross at the box office for a near-200 million $ budget IS NOT a “success” because these international grosses is a LOT of money not coming back to the producer’s pockets.


Now i’m sure there are people far better informed about how this works but the bare bone basics (as far as i know, correct me if i’m wrong on this) is this: before shouting “SUCCESS !” the movie has to, DOMESTICALLY first gross exactly or at least very close to DOUBLE of it’s budget before relying on international markets to help along, Genisys was a 155+ million $ (plus millions more for the big-ass marketing campaign) movie, domestically it only achieved less then 90 million $, that’s a serious 65+ million $ away from recovering it’s costs, now all together… Read more »


Oh and another thing: did anyone notice how completely irrelevant the supposed “Director” Alan Taylor is perceived in his importance to T5Genisys ? he’s all kinda looking to the side and whistles “Oh Genisys ? meh…yeah i “directed” it……..kinda, it’s not that important” (his only noteworthy contribution/complaint is him being upset that the marketers revealed way too much information in the trailers), at least Mostow and Mcg can say without doubt that T3 and Salvation is THEIR MOVIES, THEIR VISION despite the crap-ton of flaws (brancato and ferris scripting say hi !), it just goes to show that T5Genisys was… Read more »


Judge for yourself if Lussier and Kalogridis have basically ripped off John Brancato’s prototype scriptment of T3ROTM for their Genisys.