Success On The Big Screen + Success On TV + An Immersive Attraction: How Has The Terminator Franchise Remained Relevant?
Few people realised when the science-fiction masterpiece The Terminator premiered in 1984 quite how enduring and popular the franchise would be. Whether this was down to the star power of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the blend of futuristic action and the 1980s, or the prospect of what the world of the film promised, nobody can quite pinpoint. But news in February 2021 indicates that Netflix plans to pick up the Terminator franchise and continue with a TV format. But what makes Terminator so enduring 37 years later?
The Terminator Will Be Right Back
February 2021 saw Netflix, Skydance and anime production house Production I.G announce their partnership to create an anime series based on the Terminator franchise. With Project Power (2020)’s Mattson Tomlin executive producing and acting as showrunner, the series will in some ways be based on a 2008 project. The project, titled Termination, would feature a series of animated shorts produced by a series of top filmmakers to create a collection.
Box Office Gold
One of the driving reasons for the Terminator franchise’s enduring success is undeniably the appeal it has at the box office. The worldwide box office for the 1984 film was $78,019,031 – fairly average. But the sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) grossed $515,390,883 worldwide. The four other films in the franchise (Rise of the Machines in 2003, Salvation in 2009, Genisys in 2015 and Dark Fate in 2019) didn’t gross as much, but still did well at the box office. All five sequels managed to eclipse the gross of the original film.
Terminator was also fleshed out on the small screen in 2008 and 2009. Lena Headey (Cersei in Game of Thrones) and Thomas Dekker (Claire’s friend in Heroes) starred in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Despite the critical reception and the high viewing figures (season one saw 10.8 million viewers, while season two saw 5.37) the show was cancelled. Attempts to revive it – such as a crowdfunding idea in 2013 – were quashed. It may have only lasted 31 episodes, but the show does prove that the concept of Terminator could thrive in a TV format (and without Arnie).
Terminator Beyond the Big Screen
But the appeal doesn’t just come from the fact that Terminator is box office fodder. The concept behind Terminator as a franchise is expansive and could feasibly work without any of the original components (namely, Arnie). The range of other methods for people to tap into the world of the Terminator explains why Netflix feel it would be successful on the platform.
An immersive attraction was another popular way of embracing a franchise – and it worked for Terminator through T2-3D: Battle Across Time. The 'ride' was based on Terminator 2: Judgment Day which was also remade in 3D. The attraction still stands at Universal Studios Japan, with previous locations in Hollywood and Florida. The attraction is interesting as it serves as a sequel of sorts to the second film. Participants can view and interact with a 3D film, which featured Arnie and the original Sarah Connor Linda Hamilton.
The Terminator 2 seems to be the most popular film to access in other formats. There is a Terminator 2 slot game available from Betway which merges classic slot gameplay with themes from the film and franchise. Given the tension felt throughout the film and the strong concept that can translate across media sources, it makes sense to use the franchise to base the slot on. Terminator also exists as a series of graphic novels produced by Dark Horse Comics. Comics can delve deeper into a franchise and tells tangential stories that help flesh out the franchise’s universe. Elsewhere, the T2 trilogy published by HarperCollins beginning with T2: Infiltrator was a series of novels published in 2001, 2002, and 2003 that continued the initial franchise.
TV is Top
But the success of other concepts on TV platforms such as Netflix has helped pave the way for the series. For example, the 2013 Bong Joon-ho directed and penned film Snowpiercer was given the Netflix treatment in 2020. The longer form of TV helps tell a wider story for the concept of a train constantly circling the globe holding the remnants of society.
What originally spanned just the length of the film was able to spread out, breathe, and allow fans to become hooked when it became a TV show. Indeed, the series has been renewed into 2022 for its third season, showing that being allowed to exist on TV was beneficial for the franchise.
The Netflix Terminator series will be an interesting one. Not only does it capitalize on the trend of bringing franchises to the smaller screens, but it taps into the existing excitement that franchises such as Terminator possess. What the series will be like is still a mystery but the pedigree of the franchise guarantees fan excitement.