ByDamien Draxler, writer at
Movie reviews, opinion, box office & scripts
Damien Draxler

Terminator Genisysis sinking in the United the Titanic.

Americans weren't so much disappointed, as they were uninterested . It opened to $25 million - and will close with roughly $89 million. The movie itself cost over $150 million, with

How did this happen? Bad marketing? Twists that were ruined in the trailers? Brutal internet trolls and film critics? Arnold Schwarzenegger's skydiving popularity, or the absence of A-list stars?

The answer is all of these and then some:


1) lack of interest in the franchise

Anything but a salvation for this franchise
Anything but a salvation for this franchise

The series' 4th entry, 'Salvation' is the film that killed the franchise. Director MCG and star Christian Bale promised that the post-apocalyptic war movie would restore the franchise to it's former glory, but instead it became the series' 'Batman and Robin'. Americans aren't queuing around the block to see Genisys now simply because history's shown them multiple times now, that quite frankly, Terminator films in the 21st century suck.

2) Rebooting Terminator isn't easy

Terminator lore, as told in movies one and two, is specific. Unlike Star Wars and Batman, it's not an expanded universe. It's a single story - the Connor family and the T-800 trying to stop Judgment Day. Because of this, the series visuals' are always the same: smoky back alleys, dusty future wars, somber music, red-eyed evil robots that kill you. That includes Genisys - which deliberately went for an old school 'Terminator' vibe that was so nostalgic it was almost a parody. How are audiences meant to know this film's any better than #3 and #4 when it looks and feels almost the same? Multiplex audiences mostly aren't film critics or even geeks - they judge a movie's quality based on superficial things like the visuals, the special effects, the coolness of the actors, the general 'feel'. They don't care about complicated plot twists, or whether James Cameron endorsed it. Paramount and Skydance didn't understand this, showering geeks with exposition but failing to show mainstream viewers anything new.

If you need an example of a reboot done right - from a pure marketing perspective - look at 1995's Batman Forever. With it's zaniness, colorful tone, one liners, and insane stunts, you knew right away no matter who you were: this Batman was something new.

3) B-list Actors on the poster

Fans were already out to slaughter Genisys before it's announcement. To this end, casting B-list actors to carry the film was stupid. A-list stars are assets that convince audiences to see movies they're wouldn't otherwise see, like Genisys. Once again, Batman Forever is a great example.

After the last Bat-flick, Batman Returns, upset fans with its violent and depressing themes, director Joel Schumacher played smart and cast the world's biggest stars, circa 1995, in Forever: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, and Nicole Kidman. Even though the press labeled the Batman franchise as 'dead' just a year ago, the film roared into theaters in Summer 1995 and smashed the opening week record with $52 million.

It may not have been quite as easy with Genisys, but no one will argue that Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence playing Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese would have raised buzz by 1000%.

Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke aren't poisonous, but they don't have box office muscle that you need to pull a sinking film like Genisys into the green. Even Jason Clarke, a rising star fresh off Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, isn't a draw yet outside geek circles. And no the big man himself, Schwarzenegger, isn't bankable in 2015.

4) Needless changes to Terminator lore

Genisys upsets fans unjustifiably by erasing the series' history. Making John Connor an android, the main villain, and then killing him off at the end is possibly one of the most aggressive betrayals of a character since Clarice Starling became a cannibal and married Hannibal; at the end of the novel 'Hannibal' in 1999. Fanboys have torched this movie endlessly since this reveal was leaked online in 2014, and for good reason. Writers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier could easily have created a new human/hybrid antagonist for the movie, saving John's character for a richer arc in a sequel.

5) Twists that trailers spoiled

Genisys' treatment of John and other elements wasn't consistent with the series' previous stories. But it more or less worked in the movie itself, providing drama that was appreciated by the faithful fans who've watched it so far. Unfortunately, the 2nd trailer for the film chose to ruin this twist completely. If you're invested in Genisys, the moment will still engage you when it arrives, but it should have been a truly overwhelming reveal, akin to Bruce Willis realizing he's a ghost in the Sixth Sense, or Darth Vader telling Luke Skywalker that he's actually his father in the Empire Strikes Back. On a wider scale, showing this reveal probably convinced indifferent viewers not to watch the movie at all, as they already knew over half the story.

6) Weak, apologetic, & dull marketing

Genisys' 1st trailer doomed it to its fate. It was desperate, needy and didn't show anything remotely new. The so-called main villain, the T-1000; naked time travel; hellish future war battles; dirty alley brawls. 'Come with me if you want to live'. Every element from that trailer was recycled, straight from the other Terminator films. Genisys actually has great stunts, but the trailer tainted them as well, by showing every one of them back-to-back in rapid fire style - the bus flip, the helicopter jump, the final fight. Each scene of wonder and intrigue from the movie was shoved into an rushed visual orgy, making beautifully filmed practical set pieces look like cheap CGI. Jumbled exposition also sunk the marketing, with most people probably not understanding what the hell the movie was even about. Finally, Sarah and Kyle's romantic chemistry was non-existent, probably because they had none in the finished film.

No Fate...

The future is still being written for Genisys. In it's second domestic weekend, the film has once again disappointed and will probably finish with less than $100 million at the end of its run. While not a good number, it's not surprising given the series' history. It is a fantastic film, one that has somehow unfairly turned into a punching bag . For those who are fans, there is still plenty of hope for Genisys though. A decade ago, the 2nd Batman reboot, Batman Begins was released, eight years after the critically reviled 'Batman and Robin' nearly killed the franchise. Despite being showered with praise from critics and comic book fans, it only opened to $48 million. It was the 2nd lowest grossing installment in the series - adjusted for inflation - only managing to overtake it's reviled predecessor Batman and Robin in the series' box office lists. But word-of-mouth caught on, and when the film was released on Blu-Ray it exploded into a cultural phenomenon. Genisys' best days might be ahead.


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