When 2015’s Terminator Genisys failed crack $100 million at the North American box office, Paramount (PARA) Pictures should have known general audiences were no longer interested in its cybernetic robot apocalypse. But Hollywood—currently beset by hordes of streaming and TV competition—is determined to reinvent deflated concepts that audiences have previously rejected into event movies. With a $185 million budget, that’s exactly what Terminator: Dark Fate hopes to be. But not even the involvement of franchise creator James Cameron, who returns here as a producer, could save the film from judgment day.
The Tim Miller-directed sequel earned the top spot at the domestic box office this weekend with just $29 million. It hasn’t fared much better overseas with $94.6 million to date, including a soft $28 million debut in China where Genisys was partially saved thanks to $105 million overall. As of this writing, Dark Fate‘s global haul stands at a disappointing $123.6 million.
Thanks to its sizable budget and costly promotional campaign, Dark Fate could wind up losing partners Skydance Media, Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox around $120 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Each studio put up 30 percent of the film’s budget with China’s Tencent providing the final 10 percent. Should Dark Fate slow overseas, the final loss could rise to around $130 million, per the outlet.
Consider the franchise terminated.
This shouldn’t come as a striking surprise to any involved, as both 2009’s Terminator Salvation ($365 million worldwide against a $200 million budget) and 2015’s Terminator: Genisys ($432 million against a $155 million budget) disappointed at the box office. Even 2003’s Terminator 3 failed to triple its $170 million production budget, a general goal of most tentpole blockbusters, on the worldwide stage.
Even though Skydance’s David Ellison was able to recruit Cameron—who then convinced original star Linda Hamilton to return with Arnold Schwarzenegger—for a direct sequel to his first two entries in the franchise, we have nearly two decades of evidence that general audiences have grown weary of the Terminator property. To quote Jackson Maine, maybe it’s time to let the old ways die.