MIGHTY MOVIES
Travis Clark

Here's why 'Terminator: Dark Fate' could be the end of the franchise

(Paramount)

The latest movie in the long-running "Terminator" series, "Terminator: Dark Fate," reeled in just $29 million in the US over the weekend and has made $123 million total worldwide so far. The domestic opening is well below studio projections and a disappointing result for a movie that cost $185 million to produce and millions more to market.

"Dark Fate" stands to lose more than $120 million for the studios Skydance Media, Paramount, and Fox, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Fox handled international distribution, marking another post-Disney merger flop for Fox's film business, which suffered a $170 million third-quarter operating loss earlier this year.


"The mythology has been rebooted so many times without much success," Jeff Bock, the Exhibitor Relations senior box-office analyst, said of the "Terminator" franchise. "It's pretty clear audiences have had enough."

"Dark Fate," the sixth movie in the series, is flopping despite receiving the best reviews for the franchise in years. It has a 70% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 27% score for 2015's "Terminator Genisys" and the 33% score for 2009's "Terminator Salvation."

Linda Hamilton in "Dark Fate."

(Paramount)

While "Genisys" was a dud in the US with just under $90 million, it ultimately earned over $400 million worldwide thanks to international box office. "Dark Fate" will likely not experience that boost. The movie flopped hard in its China opening, debuting in second place with $28 million, behind the local holdover "Better Days."

Paul Dergarabedian, the Comscore senior media analyst, is perplexed by "Dark Fate's" failure.

"Finally, after many attempts since 1991's 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day,' the movie had the creative pedigree, point-of-view, cast, and storyline that seemingly everyone had been waiting for," Dergarabedian said. "And yet the film came in under expectations."

"Dark Fate" acted as a direct sequel to "Judgment Day" and brought back actress Linda Hamilton and James Cameron, who directed the first two movies, as a producer. It's similar to what Blumhouse did with last year's "Halloween," which ignored all other sequels and was a follow up to the original 1978 movie.

James Cameron.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

"Halloween," however, was a major success with two sequels in development.

"Nostalgia is a tricky beast and in 'Dark Fate's' case, audiences had been fooled one too many times," Bock said. "Horror, on the other hand, can be retooled for modern audiences without much scrutiny, as scare tactics aren't beholden to the same 'lofty' set of parameters."

Furthermore, there's the "Joker" problem. The movie is still a major box-office force, even over a month after its release, and it crossed the $900 million mark globally over the weekend.

"'Joker' is having a long-term impact on virtually every movie that has opened in its wake," Dergarbedian said.

Cameron told Deadline in August 2019 that "Dark Fate" could launch a new "Terminator" trilogy if it performed well at the box office. But considering the weekend numbers, the franchise might not be back for a long time.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.