Long before the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring Terminator Genisys even hit theaters, we heard about how it was going to jumpstart a new trilogy of killer-robot-from-the-future movies. They recast iconic characters and rewrote the timeline, but now, like the future in the movies, the future of the franchise is in doubt.
Genisys wasn’t exactly a smash hit with either fans or critics (our, however, totally loved it), and according to The Hollywood Reporter, Paramount is taking a wait and see approach to ordering more films. A source at the studio tells the trade that sequels aren’t a given, and that:
We will definitely need to see the holds globally to confirm that people like the film.
The Alan Taylor-directed fifth installment in the Terminator franchise falls into that category of movies that, while not exactly a miserable flop, isn’t a smash hit either. With a $155 million budget, it has earned $278 million, with big international markets, most notably the increasingly important China, still to come. Box office experts predict that it could ultimately top $400 million globally, though as it stands now, only $81 million of its total has come from the domestic market, and it just isn’t going to break the $100 million barrier at home. (For a bit of perspective, Jurassic World, 2015’s highest grossing film to date, has earned $600 million in the U.S. alone.)
This middle of the road performance places Terminator and Paramount at a crossroads. While the movie will ultimately make money, even factoring in the cost of promotion, it isn’t having the kind of success that automatically earns a sequel a green light. This isn’t a case like how Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles performed so well last summer that it had a sequel green-lit by the end of opening weekend.
Some of these films do get sequels—Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim is a notable example, another film that didn’t perform well at home, but international markets bolstered its total—while others don’t. There are times when the studios attempt to force a franchise where there isn’t necessarily the demand and they peter out with a whimper—the Percy Jackson and Chronicles of Narnia movies fall into this category of franchise you just kind of forgot about.
Terminator has the benefit of being an internationally recognized brand that still has some pull around the world. That, however, can also backfire as many hardcore fans have taken issue with the convoluted storyline of Genisys that essentially rewrites and erases some of the franchises best moments.
Going into the release of Terminator Genisys, the plan was reportedly to film two more movies back-to-back, with release dates penciled in for 2017 and 2018. The rights do revert back to James Cameron in 2019, so Paramount is under a bit of a time crunch, and it will be interesting to see how they proceed. Perhaps they’ll scale back and only make one movie at a time, and see how it goes from there. They could also rein in production and try to make the movies for less money. They have some difficult choices to make before too long.