Terminator: Dark Fate Officially a Dark Flop
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former bodybuilder and Kennedy son-in-law, has returned to the well of his once seemingly bottomless popularity and found that it’s getting a little dry. Terminator: Dark Fate, a direct sequel to 1991’s smash Terminator 2: Judgement Day that asks audiences to “uh, never mind” all the subsequent installations, has under performed at the box office. Rusty where once he was chrome, the cyborg killing machine has maybe, finally met his end.
The creaky franchise made $29 million domestically on its opening weekend according to figures released by its studio, Paramount. That’ll pay for a lot of clothes, boots and motorcycles but is hardly easy money when you consider its $185 million budget.
Note that all my barbs quote the first two Terminator films. That’s because those are the only ones anyone remembers. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines wasn’t awful, but it didn’t make much of an impact. Terminator Genisys is memorable mostly for the ridiculous spelling. No human being in this timeline has much to say about the short-lived series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles either.
Credit where it’s due, though. Were it not for McG’s 2009 dud Terminator Salvation we would never have heard Christian Bale’s epic oh, goooooood for youuuuuuuu freakout against cinematographer Shane Hurlbut. For that we owe it much gratitude.
V.F. critic Richard Lawson called Dark Fate “serviceable” while praising Natalia Reyes and Mackenzie Davis as the “true leads” over Schwarzenegger and a back-with-the-band Linda Hamilton. Though it was directed by Deadpool’s Tim Miller, much of its sales pitch was that oceanic explorer and King of the World James Cameron was actively and creatively involved. The resounding “meh” with which the film has been met hopefully does not bode poorly for the forthcoming Avatar sequels.
As for Schwarzenegger, something that’s rarely commented on is that the guy hasn’t really had anything resembling a bonafide hit since he left office in 2011. He’s made a lot of dunderheaded action movies, but other than 2013’s two-hander with Sylvester Stallone Escape Plan they’ve all been lousy. (Check out Escape Plan if you missed it. It’s not a masterpiece, but it is far better than the work that flanked it like Sabotage and Expendables 2.) Arnold even attempted to make the pivot to indies with the dark, moody zombie picture Maggie in 2015; it looked decent on paper but just didn’t come together.
Clearly, he has only two options. One, a return to broad comedy (Nursery School Cop?) or a Senate run.