Deadline is reporting that James Cameron is engaged in early talks to return to his Terminator franchise, not as a director, but in a godfather role for Deadpool’s Tim Miller, who would direct a “reboot and conclusion” to the franchise.
This is interesting news, but should also be taken with a grain of salt. Cameron only regains some of the rights to Terminator in 2019, and a lot can happen in the film industry in two years. Cameron is currently working on a four sequels to 2009’s Avatar, which are expected to come out between 2018 and 2023, while Miller could easily pick up a different project between now and then.
Cameron has created some of science fiction’s best-known films: Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, and Avatar, and he’s a filmmaker that understands the genre and what works and what doesn’t. His lack of involvement in films like Terminator 3, Terminator Salvation shows, though he did contribute a bit to Terminator Genysis and its press cycle.
The three sequels to Cameron’s Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day largely underwhelmed fans and critics. 2015’s Terminator: Genisys aspired to reverse the trend, but after its lukewarm release, Paramount canceled a planned sequel.
Directors returning to reboot a beloved franchise has its own troubled history: George Lucas’s Star Wars prequel trilogy is a frequent punching bag, while Ridley Scott’s 2012 sort-of return to the Alien franchise, Prometheus, earned its own heaps of criticism. That said, there are high hopes for Alien: Covenant, which appears to get back to the roots of the series, not to mention Blade Runner 2049, which Scott is producing.
Deadline alludes to some other promising factors for the Terminator reboot: David Ellison, the CEO of Skydance Media, currently holds the rights to the franchise, and is reportedly exploring ways to reboot the franchise once again — including talking to “some top-flight science fiction authors to find the movie creatively.” It’s not clear who those authors are, but they might be able to provide some additional insights that the prior films have lacked.
But the two biggest roadblocks at the moment may be time and fame. A Cameron and Miller Terminator film sounds like a winning bet in 2017, but will the directors be sure things after their upcoming high profile releases. Hollywood is fickle and so are audiences. Few franchises prove that like Terminator.