Can the Terminator franchise compete in the current age of blockbuster entertainment, when it shares so much in common with other series – be they sci-fi properties and/or modern superhero genre installments (for example, time travel, dystopian futures and dangerous robots – all of which will be part of X-Men: Days of Future Past this year)?
It’s a fair question that’s been raised on the Screen Ran Underground Podcast before, but it’s safe to say that Paramount, Skydance and Annapurna Pictures’ Megan Ellison (who now owns the Terminator rights) believe the answer is “yes.” Hence, we’re getting a film reboot – under the working (and possibly final) title Terminator: Genesis – that is meant to kickoff another trilogy, in addition to a new television series that will directly tie in with the rebooted movie continuity (unlike its predecessor The Sarah Connor Chronicles and the first four Terminator features).
Plot details for Terminator: Genesis are under-wraps for the time being, but we know the story will again revolve around Sarah Connor – ordinary 20th century working-class gal (maybe early 21st century in Genesis) turned deadly warrior for humanity – and her son John, who leads the war against the machines in the future. Arnold Schwarzenegger is reprising his iconic role as a cyborg killing machine, while Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) is set as young Sarah Connor and Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) looks to have secured the role of grown-up John Connor.
Variety is reporting that the last key role to fill will be Kyle Reese – the soldier who adult John Connor sends back in time to protect the young Sarah Connor from being killed by Skynet in James Cameron’s original Terminator movie (unaware that John is, in fact, his own son).
Paramount originally had its eye on a more established 20-something year old to play Kyle Reese, like Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road) or Garrett Hedlund (Inside Llewyn Davis). However, Variety claims that on Monday, the studio will instead test a collection of lesser-knowns for the role, including: Wilson Bethel (Hart of Dixie), relative newcomer Tom Cocquerel, Boyd Holbrook (The Host) and Sam Reid (Hatfields & McCoys).
Additionally, Jai Courtney will be in contention for the Kyle Reese role. Courtney, though far from an A-lister, has a decent fan-following already, thanks to his roles on Starz’s Spartacus TV series and roles in films like Jack Reacher and A Good Day to Die Hard (he played Bruce Wills’ grown son in the latter). That said: Courtney has yet to headline a blockbuster on his own, so his star is still very much on the climb.
The Reese character was portrayed by Michael Biehn in Cameron’s original 1984 film, a couple decades before the role was recast with Jonathan Jackson on the Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series and then Star Trek Into Darkness‘ Chekov (Anton Yelchin) in the most recent movie installment, Terminator: Salvation.
Since we don’t know yet how essential Kyle Reese is to the Terminator: Genesis narrative – featured in the script by Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) and Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry) – it’s difficult to get too worked up over any possible casting selections, much less those involving lesser-knowns who are looking to breakout (save maybe Courtney).
That said, the confirmed casting for the film thus far reads as pretty solid on paper, and director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) appears intent on some course-correction and bringing the series back to its roots – a franchise that is driven by proper sci-fi/horror concepts, but has a humanist core. Let us know if that’s encouragement enough for now, and your thoughts on the casting for the film (be it finalized or potential).
Terminator: Genesis opens in theaters on July 1st, 2015.