By all accounts, people seemed to enjoy Terminator: Dark Fate. Early reactions pegged it as the best entry in the series since James Cameron’s all-time classic Judgment Day almost 30 years previously, and the consensus easily backs up those sentiments. On Rotten Tomatoes, the sixth installment holds the highest critical and user rating out of the last four sequels, and an audience score of 82% is much better than the 46%, 54% and 53% notched by Rise of the Machines, Salvation and Genisys respectively.
The majority of people who saw Dark Fate definitely liked it, then, but there just weren’t enough of them willing to pay for the privilege. Even with Cameron back on board as producer and co-writer, the $185 million blockbuster could only cobble together $261 million at the box office to end up as one of the biggest bombs of 2019, earning well over $100 million less than any of the preceding three sci-fi actioners.
A lot of it was down to the fact that Dark Fate was the third time in ten years that we’d been told this brand new Terminator movie would live up to the lofty standards set by the first two, launching a trilogy in the process. Fans had been burned twice already, and in a recent interview, star Mackenzie Davis admitted that franchise fatigue was a huge factor behind the poor performance.
“I loved the experience of making that movie. It was hard and rigorous, as I’ve already said, but the people were amazing. Tim was an incredible director, just so dedicated and devoted to making it the best thing it could be. As far as the box office and stuff, it’s Terminator 6, nobody saw the last three, I get it, it’s okay, I don’t think that means what we made was bad, but I understand that the audience’s appetite has been exhausted. How much do you attribute that to there being three women in the lead, I don’t know, I never really wanted to engage with that stuff because I can’t control it. I am a woman and I really liked the part and I felt proud of what I did so I couldn’t be like, ‘No one’s seeing it because they’re sexist’. It seemed like an easier answer for me to be like, ‘Alright, six is too much, now we know’.”
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Terminator: Dark Fate losing Paramount up to $120 million was rumored to have hammered the final nail into the coffin of a franchise that’s been struggling to remain relevant for a long time now, but any marketable property with a built-in fanbase is never truly over, and there’ve already been reports making the rounds about another new attempt at revitalizing the brand in the not too distant future.