How to Save the Terminator Franchise

By  · Published on October 7th, 2015

by Craig Thomas

Paramount Pictures

Whilst not quite Judgement Day, we now live in a world where rubbish Terminator films outnumber the great ones. However, even the massive success in China was not enough to paper over the cracks (namely, taking a paltry $90 million at the domestic box office on a budget of $150 million, and some seriously poor reviews, 26% of Rotten Tomatoes). Now, the franchise has been shelved indefinitely and it could easily be argued that the time had certainly come to do the merciful thing, take the T-800 round the back of the wood shed and go Old Yeller on his ass.

But, inevitably, it will be back.

Therefore, if they insist on making more, here are some suggestions for ways to make it not suck.


To some this might sound like sacrilege and I understand, believe me, I do. But this is not the time for sentimentality. Think about it, if you can love the first two films despite the existence of the other three, why would a reboot be any different?

Basically, it makes perfect sense, which is why this is what Terminator: Genisys basically tried to do, without actually doing it. Unfortunately, the result was that it created this alternate time-line, which completely invalidated the first two films anyway, and where literally nothing made sense. If you’re happy to accept that as canon, fine, but that’s not a world I want any part of.

At this point it’s simply better to wipe the slate clean and start again and, whilst we’re starting afresh, it is time to…

Terminate Arnie

To some this might sound like sacrilege and I unders… blah, blah, blah.

The ultimate killing machine is now 68 years old. Sure, he could still beat the living crap out of me, but so could my grandmother and as much as I love her, I don’t want to see her starring in a Terminator film any time soon. Actually, that would be awesome. But anyway…

He was perfectly cast in the first two, but now he is an albatross hanging around the franchise’s neck. He simply has to be there, even though he has played different versions of the character in all five films! Literally, the only connection Arnie ever has to any of the other movies is his face.

Sure, they’ve found a way to solve this problem in Genisys, but it doesn’t escape the fact that this is a character this isn’t supposed to develop. He is part of a mass-produced army of killing machines with a singular purpose and isn’t intended to grow into a beautiful, unique snowflake. So, unless you want to see Arnie pull hilarious faces ad infinitum, it is time bring this chapter of the franchise to an end.

So, what to do?

Cast The Rock

Sure, this one is a no-brainer. He has the build to replace Arnie and has gained something of a reputation as a rescuer of franchises, and if a franchise ever needed rescuing, boy, this one does.

If you’re going for a straight-up reboot, then here is your guy. He has a solid track record in action films and is actually a far better actor than Arnie. So, if they insist on continuing this god-awful comedic streak, then at least he has a better chance of making it work.

But, regarding of casting, by far the most important thing to do is…

Make It For Adults

For the love of god, please. The franchise started as film for adults. Whilst there is obviously more money to be made is pandering to children and nostalgia, a really great film would try to recapture the intensity of the first one, rather than continuing the consistent watering-down and appeal-broadening of each sequel.

The beauty of the film is not Arnie, is not teaching the robot to smile, is not the end of the world, but is in the blood-curdling terror of the ultimate killing machine that will not stop and cannot be stopped, and is coming after you! The franchise needs to rekindle that personal terror and revel in making us feel completely helpless.

Finally, the last thing they can do to help save The Terminator franchise is…

Get Woody Allen to Direct

Wait, what?!

Sure, he might not be the obvious choice, but trust me, the story at the heart of The Terminator is Woody’s bread and butter.

Pretty much all his greatest films include characters struggling with the existential crisis of trying to live in a world they know is coming to an end. The only difference is the end is not due to the expansion of the universe, but because of killer robots. Add a subplot about the morality of killing to make the world a better place á la, T2, and you’ve got a match made in heaven.

Think Sleeper meets Irrational Man.

And let’s not forget one of the central tenants of the franchise is a man having a relationship with a young woman born 40 years before him. Well, that has Allen written all over it.

So there, if the next Terminator follows all the above advice, it will be guaranteed* both commercial and critical success, breaking box office records and collecting more Oscars than Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

You’re welcome, World.

* not a guarantee.

This designation is reserved for our special friends and neighbors who pop in to contribute to the wondrous world of FSR.