Although Terminator: Dark Fate is the sixth entry in the Terminator franchise, continuity-wise, it’s ignoring its immediate three predecessors and serving only as a sequel to The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. As a further show of Dark Fate embracing its roots, James Cameron, the man who created this sci-fi property, came back to executive produce and hash out the story. However, because he was so busy with the Avatar sequels, he never actually visited the Dark Fate set.
James Cameron has spent the last decade focused on continuing the Avatar film series, and while filming on Avatar 2 and 3 finally began in the latter half of 2017, due to all the performance capture and underwater work required, it’s resulted in an especially long creative process on and off-camera. As a result, Cameron was unable to check out Terminator: Dark Fate’s shoot and instead dedicated attention to improving the story. The filmmaker said:
I focused on getting the script punched up. I didn’t feel like we went into the shoot with the script exactly where it should have been. There was a lot of momentum on the project, there was a start date, there was a lot of energy and a lot of ‘go fever,’ but the script wasn’t where it needed to be so I quietly worked on it in the background and shipping out pages. Sometimes I was shipping out pages the day before they shot a scene. I’m not sure that was 100% always helpful but overall I kept the characters on track and sounding right and being where they needed to be.
James Cameron added to Deadline that his work on Terminator: Dark Fate’s script included him and the writing team watching Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation and Terminator Genisys, all of which he had no hand in making. This helped them in taking a ‘back to basics’ approach with Dark Fate and to “avoid the mistakes of making things overly complex,” particularly when it came to jumping around in time.
As for who did oversee the R-rated Terminator: Dark Fate’s shoot, that duty belonged to director Tim Miller, who previously helmed Deadpool. Miller had originally been brought in to direct the next Terminator movie when it was being envisioned as a Genisys sequel, and when plans changed, he worked with James Cameron and producer David Ellison on the Dark Fate story.
We’re now roughly two months away from Terminator: Dark Fate’s release, and while James Cameron is still hard at work on the next two Avatar movies, one would imagine that he’ll make the rounds once press and marketing kicks up a notch in the coming weeks. And if Dark Fate is successful enough, perhaps Cameron will contribute in a similar capacity on the next two films that have already been envisioned.
James Cameron wasn’t the only individual who returned to Terminator: Dark Fate after a long hiatus from the franchise. Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong are reprising Sarah and John Connor for the first time since Terminator 2 (though Hamilton did make a vocal cameo in Terminator Salvation). And, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger is back as another T-800, this one named Carl.
As for new faces, we have Gabriel Luna as the Rev-9, a malevolent Terminator capable of separating into two units; Natalia Reyes as Dani Ramos, a young woman the Rev-9 is trying to kill; Mackenzie Grace as Grace, a cybernetically enhanced human soldier from the future who’s been sent to protect Dani; and Diego Boneta as Miguel, Dani’s brother.
Terminator: Dark Fate opens in theaters on November 1. If you’re curious about what other movies are coming out before the year is over, head to our 2019 release schedule.