While promoting the release of the 3D conversion of his cult classic movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day Canadian director James Cameron was quizzed by IGN about his forthcoming plans to return to the franchise, below is a transcript of what he said.
"Well look, I got out of the Terminator business after Terminator 2 because I didn't control the underlining IP. I had sold it off very early on when I was nobody, not a director, nothing and I was just thrilled to be working on a movie. When I became aware of the fact that I could get back into a control position on the rights then I started to ask myself 'artistically, is there anything there, is there anything to be said that I haven't already said and that would even be relevant in the 2020's, when these hypothetical films would come out?' I thought 'Well, let's look at that.' I mean of the things that were science fiction in The Terminator are now around us, from Predator Drones and actual discussions on the ethics of having a robot have its own kill decision possibilities; things like that. I mean it's actually happening, so okay maybe there is room for a film that examines these themes. It just has to be retooled for an audience's expectations."
Fans will recall that Cameron did return to co-write (with William Wisher Jr.) and direct Terminator 2 even though at that time he did not have any control on the IP (Intellectual Property). This was mainly because Cameron had originally intended to have the T-800 vs T-1000 dynamic in the first movie, but was unable to believably create the mimetic antagonist using 1980's special effects. As a result, the story of the first movie was scaled back to be a human resistance soldier vs the T-800, originally with Arnold Schwarzenegger auditioning for the role of Kyle Reese, with Lance Henriksen originally planned to play the Terminator. Thank god Cameron and Arnold realized the action movie legend would make a much more visually effective Terminator.
Cameron did return after Terminator 2, in a fashion, with the 3D attraction Terminator 2: 3D (Battle Across Time), which he also directed (which closed down in 2012). But after the phenomenal commercial success of Titanic Cameron semi-retired, deciding to only make movies if and when he felt like it, no longer needing to be at the beck and call of a studio's demands. This position was fortified even further after Avatar toppled the box office record he had previously set with Titanic. This is why his four planned Avatar movies have yet to be released because unlike most directors he has earned the privileged position of being able to make the movies he wants to make when he wants to make them.
Where does this leave Terminator fans? In all honesty, no-one knows. After making T2-3D (the attraction, not the recently released movie conversion) he claimed he had told the story he wanted to tell, but when approached by McG Cameron suggested that the future of the franchise was in the 'future war' we glimpsed at in his first two movies. This sentiment was also repeated recently by the co-writer of those first two movies William Wisher Jr. when he spoke to Cinema Blend about his original plans for sequels to follow McG's Terminator Salvation.
"I was looking to, in those two films, to close out the whole story and to explain things, or reset things that I thought had gone awry in Terminator 3 and Terminator 4, including bringing Linda Hamilton back as Sarah — kind of unkilling her. And then kind of glimpsing the final chapter of the war where you see it all – the first Terminator being sent back, and then Michael Biehn being sent back, things like that. I was developing the potential sequels that McG was going to direct. He directed [Terminator: Salvation], and he had more to do. And then the whole thing blew up over a lawsuit having nothing to do with either of us… I just wanted to close all of the loops, and bring the story full circle. And we didn’t get a chance to do that. Things moved beyond us, and the rights went to someone else, and then they made their own Terminator 5, and… Terminator 5, I guess [laughs]."
Hopefully, Cameron will stay true to his word and give fans a gritty, R-rated trilogy set in the iconic future war, featuring his original designs for the TDE (Time Displacement Equipment, pictured above) and leading up to the conclusion of mankind's war against the machines. Let's just hope he doesn't get caught up in too much social commentary; he's done enough of that with Avatar, and unnervingly his comments about 'Predator Drones' reminds us of similar comments that were used in the lead up to the release of 2014's RoboCop.
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