The Terminator franchise has been the subject of much debate and speculation lately. Despite being a worldwide success, Terminator Genisys grossed $89-$90 million domestically and thus, many have written the franchise off once more. However, this should not be the case...and thankfully it isn't. Terminator Genisys has grossed a total of $440,160,956. The movie is officially the second highest grossing film of the franchise (behind the legendary T2) and the second highest grossing film of Arnold Schwarzenegger's career (also behind T2). Furthermore, it is the 185th highest grossing film of all time. Now those statistics speak for themselves. Clearly, there is still a demand for the franchise and to write the film off as a flop is just ridiculous. Now, I have been very vocal about the future of the Terminator franchise in some of my previous articles and definitely think they can make it work IF they do it right. Genisys is highly underrated and the criticism was far too harsh. Yes, it is not in the same league as the legendary T1 and T2 but it never tried to be and in my opinion, it sits as the well-deserved third best film in the franchise thus far.
A recent report by The Hollywood Reporter created panic, claiming the Terminator universe was "on hold indefinitely". This dashed the hopes of fans who were expecting the two sequels and spin-off TV series that they were promised. However, Skydance's chief creative officer Dana Goldberg responded "I wouldn't say on hold, so much as re-adjusting". Furthermore, she claimed that they were ultimately pleased with Genisys' worldwide numbers and to ignore the worldwide appeal would be ridiculous. Goldberg also commented that they will be doing a worldwide study to find out what people liked and didn't like about Genisys in order to make the follow-up as good as possible. This approach is truly commendable and if the experts want just some pointers on how to make the sequel work, then look no further than here. There is still some confusion as to whether Goldberg means they intend to continue the Genisys storyline or a new standalone Terminator 6. I'm writing this list with the former in mind because there are just too many suggestions for another possible reboot.
Having done some research and adding my own suggestions, here are just some of the ways that Skydance could make sure that Terminator 6 avoids some of the backlash that Genisys received yet maintain some of it's positive aspects at the same time.
1. Bring Back the R Rating
This needs to be a starting point. Both Terminator Salvation and Terminator Genisys hoped (and succeeded) to garner a PG-13 rating to draw a wider audience. However, they are the two in the franchise that underperformed. A return to the original R rating would add a vibe similar to the earlier Terminator films. Now let me be clear, I'm not saying that the film has to be overly violent - Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines had very little gore but it was still rated R because of those moments, the explicit language and the dark themes in the film - T6 just needs to have the same adult feel as the first three. The Terminator films are supposed to be dark and peppered with expletives (they're dealing with the end of the world!). The watered down product eventually effects mainstay visual elements, such as Pops' exposed Cyborg endoskeleton which features less bloody tissue around it's face than previous Terminators - the controversial trailer removed the flesh completely, making the CGI look quite unusal.
By consistently making the sequels PG-13, the studios are alienting the original fans of the franchise.
Speaking of the original films, this leads perfectly into my next point...
2. Stop Trying to "Franchise" It
When it comes to Hollywood, there is no denying that we seem to be living in the era of "the franchise". Think about it, we have: the Hunger Games franchise, the Transformers franchise, the Marvel franchise, the DC Cinematic Universe franchise. Now, obviously the Terminator films are a franchise. But they are a series of films that have amassed over time. Films that weren't necessarily made with sequels in mind. Terminator Genisys however, was made with sequels in mind. Within the Terminator franchise, Paramount wanted to create the Genisys franchise. This is evident from the amount of information still left out of the film. For example, we still don't know who sent Pops back, thus we don't know who is responsible for creating the alternate timeline. This is a neat trick if you can guarantee a sequel. But for a while there, the sequel was on the bubble. Thankfully, we will get a sequel! Although Terminator Genisys does have a happy ending and the main storyline was wrapped up, there are still a few loose ends that never got tied up.
Let's get one thing straight, the Terminator franchise is not Transformers. I use this example because it's just been announced that the Transformers series has been commissioned for four more films, thus they can be made with sequels in mind. That's great news for fans of the franchise. But Transformers is what it is and Terminator is what it is. I love Genisys but I couldn't help but feel like it was being marketed towards the same kind of primary audience that would enjoy other big budget blockbusters like Transformers. The PG-13 audience that enjoy entertaining summer blockbusters. Those films are great, there's no denying that. But the Terminator films are not those type of films and should never be considered among them. Although both franchises heavily feature machines and explosions, the Terminator films have a darker undertone, a hidden message about the dangers of technology. Simply put, they are supposed to be thrillers, not action packed blockbusters. However, if they can be both (like T2) well then it's a job well done. And to go back to my original point, they are not kid-friendly films and it would be wise to remember what made the first two films so great: their dark themes and the fact that they were made for adults.
3. Lower the Budget
I can't put this point any plainer. A lower budget means there is less on the line. Terminator Genisys had a budget of $150 million. Thanks to the intervention of the rest of the world, the film eventually grossed $440 million - thus, it effectively made three times what it cost. However, according to the recent Hollywood Reporter article, it still ended up losing the studio money. A simple solution to ensure that this doesn't happen again is lowering the budget. Just look at other action films, such as San Andreas which had a budget of $110 million or even Terminator 2: Judgment Day which had a budget of around $94 million. T2 is effective proof that an amazing film can be made on a lower budget. Fans will not care if there are less awesome visuals provided it tells a great story. Thus, when Paramount and Skydance produce Terminator 6, it is vital that they lower the budget in order to avoid the same pressure once again.
4. Release T6 When There is Less Competition
The main reason Terminator Genisys suffered at the Domestic Box-Office is because it suffered on it's opening weekend. It was the 4th July extended weekend and this was a holiday in the US. However, it was all out warfare at the Box-Office between dominant holdovers Jurassic World and Inside Out and newcomers Terminator Genisys and Magic Mike XXL. Terminator managed to defeat Magic Mike but the dominant monster that was Jurassic World held onto it's #1 spot and Terminator had to settle for #3. Although, it did manage worldwide dominance that weekend, becoming #1 in the International Box-Office, it was the domestic takings that slowed it's progress. Simply put, the 4th July weekend is a family holiday. On a family holiday, you can rest assured that families will take their children to see more family orientated movies...especially if they are still relatively new. Undoubtedly, this is what happened this year. I still stand by the fact that this release date was one of the main hinderances to Terminator Genisys' Box-Office takings. If Paramount and Skydance want to achive domestic success, release T6 on a weekend when there is less competiton and less renowned franchises at the Box-office. A franchise like Terminator should be a shoe-in for #1...but not when there is an equally as adored (and more family friendly) franchise like Jurassic Park around.
5. Better Marketing
I have read multiple complaints from various sources and forums, each one complaing about the marketing of Terminator: Genisys. Or perhaps that should be lack of marketing. There were claims that the company did not spend as much as they should have on marketing the film properly. However, there have been enough complaints regarding that aspect of the marketing campaign and thus, I am going to focus on another aspect: the trailer.
Terminator Genisys should be commended for daring to be bold and re-writing the story in such a way that John Connor ends up as not just an enemy but a Terminator himself. However, when you dare to be that bold and shock everyone like that...you DO NOT put that precarious and shocking moment in the trailer! This year has seen a lot of criticism of trailers in the industry. I can completely see where the criticism is coming from. A trailer is designed to market a film...not spoil it. Imagine the shock in the theatre if that information had been kept secret. Instead, eveybody who had seen the trailer knew what was coming and had to watch the first half of the film, knowing full well what was going to happen half way through it. Furthermore, nothing is going to please everyone. And anyone who would have potentially hated this twist would automatically have been put off from going to see it in the theatre.
5. A More Linear/Less Confusing Plot
Although the criticism of the film is unfairly harsh, one of the main critiques of Terminator Genisys was it's confusing time travel centred plot. Although it's presence is always cosntant in the films, time travelling itself has only ever played a small role in the previous Terminator films. However, Terminator Genisys relied on the use of time travel three times, with parts of the film set in: 2029, 1984 and 2017. Again, it did not bother me but it's "convoluted" plot and the relaince on time travel, alternate timelines and "nexus points" might risk alienating the casual viewer who hasn't seen the previous films. Thus, in Terminator 6 perhaps make the plot more reminiscent of the first three films, more linear and easier to understand rather than employing impressive but confusing storylines.
6. More Arnold Schwarzenegger
This should have been Number 1 but I feel like it should go without saying. The next film needs to be marketed towards it's worldwide audience moreso than it's domestic audience and the best way to do that is by keeping Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator. Yes, there are those who claim that his star power has faded in the US, but there is no denying his drawing power overseas and that needs to be capitalised upon because it was Terminator Genisys' saving grace.
7. Keep Lorne Balfe
Every time a new Terminator film comes out, we always hear a new incarnation of Brad Fiedel's legendary Terminator theme. Lorne Balfe's incarnation of this in "Terminated" is without a doubt the best version of it since Fiedel's own in T2. It is nothing short of epic and gives me chills when I hear it, much like the Fiedel's version. It must be said that Lorne Balfe scored Terminator Genisys beautifully. In my opinion, definitely the third (if not second) best Terminator score yet. We all love Brad Fiedel and his epic T1 and T2 scores. But if we can't have Fiedel, Balfe is more than capable of filling his shoes. Pieces such as "Sarah Kicks Ass" are completely epic wheras pieces like "Sacrifice" are absolutely beautiful and it works perfectly with the heart-wrenching scene it plays in. Furthermore, the stunning "Fate and Hope" theme that plays throughout the film really adds emotional depth to the scenes it plays in.
Although we should expect changes in Terminator 6 it would be wise to keep Lorne Balfe on as the musical composer because his pieces were superb!
8. An Even More Badass Sarah Connor
Now before I begin this point: Like I said before, I don't know if Paramount/Skydance intend on going ahead with the current storyline or distancing themselves from the Genisys arc. The former is more likely so I'm sticking with that. Although many people were disappointed with Jai Courtney's performance/casting as Kyle Reese, to do a recast and still continue the storyline would probably be an unusal and unlikely idea. I liked Courtney and look forward to seeing him the Suicide Squad (I think he'll be a great Captain Boomerang), I just think he looks a little too action hero-y to be Kyle Reese. Jai Courtney looks nothing like Michael Beihn. Biehn's performance in The Terminator was exceptional and nothing can touch that. On the other hand, everyone would say the same thing about Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor. However, I think Emilia Clarke was perfectly cast for the role in Terminator Genisys. She did a brilliant job and actually bares quite a resemblance to a young Linda Hamilton. However, some complained that she wasn't badass enough. I disagree, this Sarah Connor may dress like the action heroine from T2 but she isn't there yet. This is Clarke's version of the 1984 Sarah Connor. The same young and timid Connor that Linda Hamilton portrayed in the first film. Although being in an altered timeline, Sarah is still young, naive and tries to see the best in the world. However, there are occassions throughout the film when we see gilmpses of that badass streak within. Sure she may know about Terminators but she is still a far cry from the hardened warrior from T2 and that is okay. She is still a young girl.
However, Terminator 6 is the opportunity for Skydance to give fans what they want. Now is the time for a more badass Sarah Connor. Emilia Clarke is more than capable of fulfilling this potential. Just like Sarah Connor, Emilia Clarke herself will have matured by the time T6 starts filming. Give her a juicy script and storyline where we see get to see a dominant woman fighting off her demons (and throw in a few expletives if you have to!). Many have claimed Sarah Connor is undoubtedly the best and most interesting human character in the franchise, now let Emilia Clarke portray that onscreen by giving her the Sarah Connor we all know and love!
9. An Intimidating Villain
Arnold Schwarzenegger's silent Terminator in The Terminator scared the living daylights out of us. Robert Patrick's T-1000 did the same. The T-X was a force to be reckoned with. Even, the T-1000 in the first half of Genisys was pretty lethal too. However, I just didn't feel like Jason Clarke's John Connor Terminator was that frightening. Yes, the twist was awesome and commendable. And Jason Clarke is an amazing actor (have you seen Everest?!) but he didn't have the intimidating presence of the previous villains. I know it gets consistently harder to come up with another "most advanced Terminator yet" but Terminator 6 should have something we have never seen in a threat before but maintain the intimidating aspect of the first few villains. The fans "want to be thrilled".
Those are just some main suggestions on what to keep and what to change in Terminator 6. Obviously there are always many more, such as: make Pops dress like the previous Terminators (where were the sunglasses people?!) or cast a new, younger John Connor as the one in the current Genisys timeline (2017) - perhaps a TV or movie star that will draw more people to see the film, or perhaps add a former Terminator alumni (Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick etc.) to draw fans of the originals back to the franchise. Either way. I really did enjoy Terminator Genisys and thought it was much better than the majority of generic films this year. I will eagerly await to see what Skydance does in preparation for Terminator 6. No matter what changes are made, there's one thing you can definitely count on: HE'LL BE BACK!
Terminator Genisys is released on Digital HD on October 26 and on Blu-Ray, 3D and DVD on November 2 2015