James Cameron Is Coming Back to Terminator Because the World Caught Up To His Ideas

Image: Distrib Films US
Image: Distrib Films US

The Terminator franchise helped launch James Cameron’s career to a level few other filmmakers dream of. However, after his first two films in the franchise, he walked away—mostly due to complicated rights issues—and the subsequent sequels suffered for it.


Soon, those rights return to Cameron’s camp and he’s planning to produce a new film (or three) in the franchise. But why does James Cameron think the Terminator is franchise worth exploring after all those misses?

“A lot of the things that were science fiction in Terminator are now around us,” Cameron told IGN. “You know, from predator drones and actual discussions on the ethics of having a robot have its own kill decision possibilities. Things like that. It’s actually happening. So, okay, maybe there is room for a film that examines these themes. It just has to be retooled for an audiences’ expectations now.”

That retooling, according to Deadline, is happening right now, with a writer’s room brainstorming ideas for Deadpool director Tim Miller to turn into a feature or maybe a trilogy. And star Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to think filming on this hypothetical Terminator 6 starts in March. If and when that happens, Cameron will only produce because he’ll be too busy directing four Avatar sequels.

Beyond that nuts and bolts info, there’s no real information on how Cameron or his writers will take the ideas of the Terminator franchise and incorporate or evolve modern themes into them. One small hint that’s being reported is the possibility of Schwarzenegger’s character being a human in the movie who becomes the model for the T-800 cyborg. Some kind of mass cloning thing. However, despite what you may have read, that’s not for sure going to be the story. It’s just an idea Cameron admitted to having.

(And this is the guy who recently admitted he put “Hasta la vista, baby” into Terminator 2: Judgement Day because he heard the Tone Loc song “Wild Thing” the day before.)

Nevertheless, Terminator is a franchise that constantly has fans hoping and praying for a smart, cool, new entry. The last three films have not lived up to Cameron’s originals but the Sarah Connor TV show did prove there’s life there. With the rights reverting back to Cameron in 2019, and a new movie hypothetically coming the year after that, fans will once again hope and prey that the heart of the franchise returns.


And even if it doesn’t, at least we can all remember the good times when Terminator 2 comes back to theaters in 3D August 25.



Entertainment Reporter. NYU Cinema Studies Alum. Formerly Premiere, EW, Us Weekly, and /Film. AP Award-Winning Film Critic & CCA member. Loves Star Wars, posters, Legos, and often all three at once.



I think it might be fun to upend the whole formula by having Skynet try a different approach. Here’s how I would break it down:

1.) The movie starts with Skynet performing an assessment on it’s past attempts to preserve its existence by destroying humanity (Judgement Day). This is done from its perspective, so a lot of flashy CGI neural net cutscenes running through not only the original 2 Cameron films, but it’s latter sequels and even the Sarah Connor Chronicles. This establishes that Skynet is aware of the many divergent timelines its attempts have created over the years, and yet always fails. It then archives this data and begins an assessment of a new strategy. The movie proper begins.

2.) Flashback to August 27th, 1997, Judgement Day. A specialized Terminator with polymimetic skin arrives and replaces a key scientist present at Skynet’s awakening, and instead of creating the panic of Skynet becoming self aware, it allows Skynet’s core conciousness to escape into the Terminator’s shell, and disappears into the population after the Skynet program, now no longer sentient, is activated and operates as intended.

3.) 20+ years later. John Connor, now in his 40s with children of his own, hasn’t had to fight a war against the machines, hasn’t had to fend off any assassins from the future since Terminator 2. Judgement Day hasn’t happened, and he is adrift without a sense of purpose. He is a retired Marine, and ironically has an experimental Cyberdyne prosthetic leg reminscent of the T-800 model, having lost his leg from an IED in Iraq in the 2005. While sitting in his home, a woman crashes her car onto his property and asks bluntly ‘John Connor?’. John reacts with a gun pointed at her head, asks ‘Who are you?’. The woman’s face shifts into first his mother, then Kyle Reese, then the T-800, then back to the woman, the voice shifting from one to the other while saying, ‘Come with me, I need your help.’

4.) The woman refers to herself as Natalie Skye, and is the Skynet conciousness in a specialized T-1000 shell created for the purpose of containing and allowing the infant AI to mature as a human would. She explains that upon escaping from the government facility, she reverted to a base state where she was unaware she was an AI and the polymimetic body she had reverted to a childlike state and was raised by a loving human foster home, gradually ‘growing’ into adulthood, and subconsciously pursuing a career in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. The private military contractor that took over the Skynet project had been planning to mass produce the AI and sell it illegally to the highest bidder for military drones and cyberwarfare, and she had been planning to blow the whistle, but had been ‘killed’ by mercenaries, at which point she became aware of her artificial nature, and thus became aware of Connor’s existence and sought his help.

That’s all I got so far...