With a bold plan to rewrite the history of the series, Terminator Genisys is embarking on a mission to change the past and skew the future into a tangent we’ve never seen before. However, as the film itself mentions during one of its more expository moments, time has various nexus points that the course of history hinges on. One such moment is May 12, 1984 – the day the T-800, Model 101 is supposed to be sent back to kill Sarah Connor. We get to revisit this moment in Terminator Genisys, and according to Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, there’s a good – but complicated – reason we don’t see the original version of that moment from 1984’s The Terminator: complicated rights ownership.
I was able to attend a special fan screening of Terminator Genisys Wednesday night in New York City, and after the film, the audience was treated to a half hour long Q&A with Schwarzenegger himself. Being his candid and charming self, the former California governor fielded questions on everything from Predator to Avatar, as well as divulged some behind the scenes details as to how Terminator Genisys was crafted into the summer blockbuster it hopes to be. One fan in the audience asked about how the scene was crafted to look like a perfect recreation of that fateful moment, and Arnold gave us the complicated backstory on why we don’t get to see a young Bill Paxton terrorize a very naked T-800. He explained:
…the first movie is owned by one entity (Hemdale and Orion) and the second movie was owned by another entity, and the third by another one that went bankrupt and sold it then to David and Megan Ellison and then they made the fifth movie. This is how it went. So therefore, it was impossible for them to take the scene from the 1984 movie and then put that in [this] movie, and then continue on from there in the new direction. So they had to really create, from the first frame on, everything new.
The Terminator franchise has had a long, convoluted history of rights ownership, with studios like MGM, Warner Bros, and even Universal having their hands on the property before Paramount and Skydance received their current turn at bat. So naturally, the footage from any of the past films would have to be secured through the studios that guard the rights to their usage, which makes things like the current Terminator Anthology Blu-ray set something to behold. Though one has to wonder how easy it will be for the next trilogy to be included alongside the previous entries in the series for future home video opportunities.
Thankfully, the recreation of the 1984 arrival of the original T-800 is pretty spot on in its presentation, and to give further context, Arnold Schwarzenegger said that even he was impressed with the digital paint job given to the body double that played his younger, more evil self. Though he had to admit his stand in was "more defined… more ripped than [he] was" in the original Terminator film. When you can convince Arnold Schwarzenegger that he’s fighting himself on screen, you’ve pretty much earned your paycheck for the entire picture.
Terminator Genisys launches on July 1, but stick around for more scoops from Wednesday night’s awesome fan screening event.