Is Terminator: Dark Fate’s poor box office signaling the end of the franchise?

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge opens the new Centre of Excellence

Perhaps we need to call this “Maleficent Syndrome.” It’s where a film debuts at #1 at the box office but is still considered “unsuccessful” or a “bomb.” This weekend’s box office was a mixed bag: Joker is still hauling in money, having crossed the $900 million global box office mark. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is still doing decent overseas box office too, and it’s made $383 million globally. But the big new release this weekend was Terminator: Dark Fate, the latest installment of the once-great Terminator franchise. Dark Fate debuted at #1 at the domestic box office. But it’s still being called a “bomb.”

Talk about complete concept rejection. Skydance, Paramount and Fox/Disney’s Terminator: Dark Fate reboot — which hoped to revive the franchise after three failed attempts — bombed in its domestic box office debut over the weekend with $29 million from 4,086 theaters, well behind expectations though still bowing at No. 1.

Not even the return of James Cameron in the producer’s chair and original series stars Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger could spark interest among many fans and the general moviegoing public. Nor is the movie likely to be rescued by the foreign box office, where it finished Sunday with a offshore tally of $94.6 million (including a lackluster China launch of $28 million) for a global total of $123.6 million (it first began rolling out overseas last weekend).

A direct sequel to Cameron’s Terminator: Judgment Day (1991), the R-rated Dark Fate was directed by Deadpool helmer Tim Miller and cost a hefty $185 million to produce before marketing. Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna and Diego Boneta also star. Dark Fate, in addition to putting the Terminator franchise back on ice, faces losses of $120 million-plus for partners Skydance, Paramount and Disney/Fox (Disney inherited the movie and is handling its release abroad). China’s Tencent has a smaller stake.

“It is time to let this franchise finally go to the great beyond,” says Wall Street analyst Eric Handler of MKM Partners.

The movie’s dismal opening is the second pricey miss in a row for David Ellison’s Skydance and Paramount following Ang Lee’s big-budget Gemini Man. Heading into the weekend, the sixth installment in the Terminator franchise was tracking to bow in the high $30 million to low $40 million range domestically.

[From THR]

What’s painful is that this really could have been a great franchise which survived throughout decades. But I feel like James Cameron – and others, to be fair – didn’t know where to take the story after Judgment Day. Which, by the way, is still one of the best sequels ever made. When I watched Terminator: Rise of the Machines (the third film), I was just upset by how they basically were like “LOL JK” to the entire PLOT of Judgment Day, which is that Judgment Day doesn’t have to come, that we can stop it or change it or manipulate it. Anyway… mess. And yes, time to bury this franchise. Even if it is #1.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge opens the new Centre of Excellence

Stills courtesy of Paramount.

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13 Responses to “Is Terminator: Dark Fate’s poor box office signaling the end of the franchise?”

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  1. Michael says:

    James Cameron does seem unable to change with the times. He has taken quite a few hits since his glory days and spends too much energy complaining about what Marvel is doing. Maybe cinema is passing him by

    • Laura says:

      And yet, we’re getting how many Avatar sequels? Is anyone interested in that? I don’t even remember any of the characters’ names yet we’re supposed to get 4 sequels? Just stop James Cameron. Just stop.

  2. BlueSky says:

    Just like the “Alien” franchise should have stopped at “Aliens”, Terminator should have stopped at “Judgement Day”. Linda Hamilton was so badass in that one. I agree, that sequel was 🔥🔥

  3. Miss Grace Jones says:

    My thing is…who is asking for these?

  4. Mia4s says:

    I saw it. It was pretty good. Although some of it was cringe city! It was just a soft reboot of Terminator. Meh, the story ended at Judgement Day for me and the rest is fan fiction. Let it go. It is OK for stories to end!!

    • Jay (the Canadian one) says:

      Almost in total agreement. 🙂 I liked the Sarah Connor Chronicles.

      • Mia4s says:

        I forgot about that one! (My god how many times can one series say “no, no THIS one is the continuation of canon”).

        I did like it. Didn’t see all of it but I remember it “ended” on that great cliffhanger. Hell they’ve failed at every other attempt, maybe reboot that series for Netflix. (I wouldn’t hold my breath)

  5. DiegoInSF says:

    Well #1 is meaningless if It’ll never recoup it’s budget. It has to make double its budget to barely break even. It’s the opposite of Hustlers which never hit #1 but made more than 6 times it’s budget and it’s a smash hit.

  6. Joanie says:

    I saw it and loved it. If you’re a woman who likes to see kick ass women on screen, you have to let the studios know with your wallets!

  7. Grant says:

    I saw it this weekend and I thought it was great. So many women kicking ass. Loved it!

  8. Meg says:

    Why are movies now expected to make a profit already opening weekend? That’s an insane expectation

  9. Jess says:

    I took the whole family to see it and we all liked it – me, middle aged feminist; bf, sports and Bourne loving guy; teen son and teen daughter. Linda Hamilton was awesome. It’s not a great movie so I wouldn’t care about the box office except I saw on Twitter a bunch of hateful bigots crowing about the “bomb” bc they claim this Terminator is all about “woke/PC nonsense” and that’s why it failed. So that sucks.