Nolte: Woke ‘Terminator’ Tanks at the Box Office

Kerry Brown - © 2018 Skydance Productions and Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
Kerry Brown/Skydance Productions/Paramount Pictures

Terminator: Dark Fate is not only tanking at the stateside box office, it’s also tanking overseas. If you have seen the movie, as I have, the fact that it cost $185 million to produce seems preposterous. There is no way all that money made it on the screen. But add another $100 million for promotion, and according to the formula, Dark Fate will have to make over $650 million worldwide just to break even.

That’s just not going to happen.

Dark Fate will be lucky to hit $75 million stateside, and the overseas grosses are already flaming out.

As of right now, despite endless publicity and the news about Linda Hamilton and James Cameron returning — after 28 long years — to the franchise, Dark Fate is looking at a $28 million opening weekend.

How bad is that?

The projections were closer to $40 million, but when your movie costs $300 million, when your movie costs as much as a Marvel movie that opens to $100  million, $40 million is still weak.

Worse still, it is the worst opening for a Terminator sequel ever.

Granted, Terminator: Genisys had a three-day opening of $27 million, but it opened over a five-day weekend and closed out those five days at $42 million. As Deadline points out, there’s no way Dark Fate sits at $42 million by Tuesday.

So how did this happen? How do you reboot with Cameron and Hamilton… How do you add Deadpool director Tim Miller to the mix, promote the hell out of this thing, sell it as a must-see, direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), score your best reviews in 16 years, and still whiff out?

Let me count the ways…

As one reviewer put it, if you had three lousy meals at a restaurant, would you go back for a fourth? Personally, I enjoy Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), but most people feel the last three Terminators sucked, and asking why they would waste good money on a fourth is the question the studio should have asked.

Another problem is the trailers. We were told to get all excited over the return of James Cameron, but there was nothing in those trailers that screamed CAMERON. Dark Fate looked like just another generic, CGI’d blockbuster — like Will Smith’s bland Gemini Man, which also died a terrible box office death.

Outside of bring back Linda Hamilton, the casting was also terrible. Mackenzie Davis? Seriously? Let’s just put it this way, she’s no Sigourney Weaver. She was perfect for AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, but she looks like a 14-year-old boy sporting a white supremacist bowl haircut. Would it kill Hollywood to bring back some sex appeal?

Man, I miss T&A.

Gabriel Luna plays the killer Liquid Terminator and he’s okay, but nothing close to iconic. He’s no Arnold Schwarzenegger, he’s lacking the hawk-like presence of Robert Patrick.  Why not Jason Mamoa or Vin Diesel or Dave Bautista? Why not an actor with an undeniable presence?


By far, though, the worst piece of casting was Natalia Reyes as Dani. We’re honestly supposed to believe this four-foot-and-change twerp,  who projects the gravitas of Beto O’Rourke, and a voice only a tad less squeaky than Alvin the Chipmunk, is supposed to grow up to be a resistance leader. I am not arguing that people under five feet cannot portray leaders. There is nothing Peter Dinklage and Tom Cruise can’t do. I’m also not arguing women cannot portray leaders. Sigourney Weaver, Rosario Dawson… Reyes just doesn’t have it, and the glimpses of her in that role are straight-up preposterous.


And then there’s the whole woke thing…

What is so disappointing about James Cameron is that he used to make statements through intelligent storytelling. Sigourney Weaver: Action Hero. Hell-to-the-yes. Aliens was all the way back in 1986, and no one blinked an eye at a female action hero because there was no overt preaching and the casting was perfect. Aliens also has female Marines. Again, because Cameron created such a believable world and future, you just bought it. You never felt like you were receiving a lecture or being talked down to. Cameron did it again in T2, and it was perfect.

What the hell happened to that guy? With Avatar, and now with Dark Fate, he is regressing from a Class-A storyteller pushing the cultural envelope in a way so effective the public accepts it without realizing it, into an obnoxious film student hitting us over the head with a partisan hammer.

All we heard about Dark Fate was how THE GRRRRLS ARE TAKING OVER, how it’s all about capital “D” Diversity, how it condemns the cruelty of Trump’s border enforcement.

Who the hell wants to see that?

Get woke, go broke. We see this time and time and time again at the Cineplex, but these idiots never learn.

Overall, though, I think the biggest problem — and I mentioned this in my review — is that the Terminator concept can only go so far before it runs out of gas, and this sucker ran out of gas in 2003. Dark Fate is just a remake of T2. It just is. And now that we live in a world where, most every week, a new indestructible villain and hero hit the big screen, what is so special about Terminator?


Anyway, as if to prove just how unstoppable a Terminator is, it took four flops in a row to kill it off.

I mean, this has to be the end, right?



Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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