Terminator: Dark Fate is being dubbed a box office bomb following its lackluster $29 million domestic opening weekend, just inching out the $27 million domestic opening of its predecessor, Terminator Genisys, in 2015. The Tim Miller-directed Dark Fate, a direct sequel to James Cameron's The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day ignoring all other franchise entries, opened in first place but fell short of the projected $40 million opening that would have given Dark Fate the third-highest opening in franchise history. Despite the return of producer Cameron and stars Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, all reunited for the first time since T2 in 1991, Dark Fate is facing its own grim future with a current global total of $123.6m since rolling out in international markets last weekend.
"It is time to let this franchise finally go to the great beyond," Wall Street analyst Eric Handler of MKM Partners told The Hollywood Reporter. The trade reports Dark Fate could lose more than $120m for producers Skydance, Paramount Pictures and Disney/Fox, the latter having inherited the film in international markets. China-based Tencent also has a small stake.
Genisys, which teamed a returning Schwarzenegger alongside franchise newcomers Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney and Jason Clarke, similarly disappointed when it grossed just $440m worldwide in 2015.
"I suppose it is an unusual situation from a high-level perspective since I wasn't involved in three intervening films, but when I talked to [Skydance producer] David Ellison about it his vision for this was basically to go back to basics and do a continuation from Terminator 2, which is one of his favorite films," Cameron previously told Deadline. "He's always believed in the potential of Terminator but he really felt that his own film, Genisys — and he was quite honest with me about this — fell short of the mark and didn't really do what he had wanted it to do. So he said, 'Let's start with a blank slate and take it back to Terminator 2.' And that idea was intriguing."
Cameron also said Dark Fate was planned as the first installment in a three-movie arc, with continuations dependent upon box office performance.
"We spent several weeks breaking story and figuring out what type of story we wanted to tell so we would have something to pitch Linda," Cameron said of Hamilton's 28-years-later return to the franchise. "We rolled up our sleeves and started to break out the story and when we got a handle on something we looked at it as a three-film arc, so there is a greater there to be told. If we get fortunate enough to make some money with Dark Fate we know exactly where we can go with the subsequent films."
Starring Linda Hamilton, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terminator: Dark Fate is now in theaters.