James Cameron Talks 'Terminator' 3D Re-Release & Reboot Advisory
We already know that a reboot of the Terminator franchise started by directed James Cameron back in 1984 is underway with Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney and more in front of the camera, and Thor: The Dark World helmer Alan Taylor directing. But since Cameron is responsible for the original characters and whatnot, what exactly might his involvement be like on a franchise reboot that will use Arnold Schwarzenegger as the iconic titular killer cyborg and utilize time travel to mess with the original timeline? Well, Cameron was on hand for a Q&A at the LA Times' Hero Complex Film Festival over the weekend, and he was asked about the reboot. So does he have any involvement in Terminator: Genesis?
Cameron sold the rights to Terminator in order to get the film itself made (he could have bought them back a few years ago but didn't), so he doesn't have any control over the property, but that doesn't mean he's not involved in the franchise a little bit. Cameron reveals that he's "loosely attached" to the reboot in production now and he explained (via SlashFilm) what that means:
"I pay attention to [the new Terminator films] but I’m not terribly concerned about it one way or the other. I’ve had to let it go. There was a point in time where I debated going after the rights. Carolco Pictures, the company that produced Terminator 2, was failing and in bankruptcy and the rights were in play. I talked briefly to 20th Century Fox about it. At a certain point, I think I was finishing Titanic at the time and I just felt as a filmmaker maybe I’ve gone beyond it. I really wasn’t that interested. I felt like I’d told the story I wanted to tell. I suppose I could have pursued it more aggressively and gone to the mat for it but I felt like I was laboring in someone else’s house in a sense because I had sold the rights very early on.
Basically I went from being a truck driver to being a film director and part of my dues paying was that I sold the rights to Terminator for a song, essentially, in order to keep myself attached as a director. And the outcome was fine. The rest of my career really hinged upon that. But I no longer had control of it. I thought why don’t I just create my own new thing that I would have control over the IP. So I kind of let it go and in the act of letting it go, I now have to live with the consequences of that — which is I can’t get too emotionally involved in it."
And some of those consequences have included Terminator: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation. So did they let have Cameron have some input on the story before the film moved forward?
"When Megan Ellison bought the rights, she asked me if I wanted to be involved. I said 'Well look. I don’t mind standing behind the curtain and whispering like some court advisory in 15th century Italy or something.' My goal in that was not to insinuate myself artistically but to try to make sure they stayed true to the Terminator character and the idea of Arnold being in it. Because he’s a friend of mine and we’ve been through all the wars together and everything. And I wanted them to see the possibilities I saw for what they could do with this character.
And then David Ellison took the project over from Megan and he and I met a couple times. And so Arnold is very much front and center in the new Terminator films. So I might have had some tiny effect on it — but obviously they had to make the right financial and creative decisions themselves so I’m not trying to take credit for the film that they’re making but that was my goal in being loosely attached to the film but I won’t have any credit on it."
So there you go. Let's just hope that everyone behind the new reboot knows what they're doing, and we don't get stuck with a garbage franchise reboot. And with all this renewed interest in Terminator on the way, is there a chance that Cameron might act on his love of 3D and bring the first two films that he directed back to theaters in 3D? Ultimately, that wouldn't be up to him, but the director reveals it's not out of the realm of possibility. However, he does note that the first film likely wouldn't get the 3D treatment, and it would be Terminator 2: Judgment Day heading into the third dimension. SlashFilm has the director explaning:
"'Terminator 1' I don’t think so because you could upgrade it to 3D but it’s still pretty gritty, available light photography, low budget filmmaking. We’d spend more converting it to 3D than we spent on the movie. That feels a little imbalanced to me.
But 'Terminator 2' is a more polished film and, I think, it has a kind of timeless appeal. If there was someone who was interested in doing that, and we could make a good case for the business model like, perhaps let’s say, it’s never been on screens in China which in the next few years is about to become the biggest market for films worldwide. That alone might justify the cost of a conversion which might be 6 or 7 million dollars. And then a 3D re-release might attract some eyeballs in North American and Europe and then the Chinese release, which would be the first release on the big screen, might pay for it.
I’m just using that as an example. I’m just saying we’re not ruling it out. We’re looking at it."
Considering how successful the 3D re-release of Titanic turned out to be, it would stand to reason that the Terminator franchise could round up some nostalgic box office dollars, especially if it gives Paramount Pictures the chance to promote Terminator: Genesis. Perhaps the most convincing argument for Terminator 2: Judgment Day getting a 3D re-release is that 2016 will mark the 25th anniversary of the film. Of course, Terminator: Genesis hits theaters in July of 2015, so it's not all that perfect as far as timing goes. Still, there's probably plenty of people who would want to revisit Terminator on the big screen. Thoughts?