Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Terminator franchise are returning to the big screen with Terminator Genisys, the fifth installment in the sci-fi/action movie series (and the first released since Terminator Salvation in 2009). Genisys isn’t a “hard reboot” of the Terminator property, but it does introduce the existence of an alternate timeline – one that may eventually wind up being further explored in not just two additional Terminator films, but also a connected television show that’s currently in development.
Last we heard, the television component of the revived Terminator franchise was being written and executive produced by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz, who also worked on the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles series (which ran from 2008-09). However, whereas The Sarah Connor Chronicles avoided tying in too closely with events depicted in the Terminator movies (by means of – what else? – the time-travel plot device), this new Terminator show will apparently intersect more directly with the developments in Genisys and its sequels… should they happen, that is.
Skydance Productions (Star Trek, G.I. Joe) now controls the Terminator brand, and thus the company’s CEO David Ellison (as well as CCO Dana Goldberg) is out and about promoting Genisys, as it begins its theatrical rollout across the globe. Both Ellison and Goldberg were at the Berlin press day for Genisys, when Ellison confirmed that a Terminator TV show is “something that we’re developing as we speak.” He later offered the following, when asked if the series would directly tie into Genisys and/other future Terminator films (hat tip to Collider).
A little premature to be able to say, but I will say anything we do along those lines, it will absolutely have connective tissue. It would be a mistake and a little old-fashioned to have a television show and a movie, both based on something that actually don’t cross over in any way, shape, or form.
Reading between the lines, it sounds like the idea is for all future Terminator projects to resemble other ‘Shared Universes,’ in terms of how they are assembled and organized. For example, Marvel Studios’ live-action films and TV shows all take place in the same ‘universe’ (as do Star Wars live-action movies and cartoon series), though they generally examine the lives of different characters. That means that the new Terminator TV show (unlike Sarah Connor Chronicles) should revolve around characters other than Sarah and John Connor and their close friends/family – something that the Terminator franchise has never really done before, in either past movies or television installments.
As for where the new Terminator series will hang its hat – Goldberg indicated this remains undecided for now, but that it will ultimately be “the place that’s best for that show.” Ellison also acknowledged that setting up shop for the Terminator TV show at either a cable or streaming service might be ideal – allowing for a shorter season that the standard network TV series season – but it’s not mandatory, per se.
Our gut aspiration would be a cable-driven show for something like Terminator. It’s amazing to be in the network space. We have not been a part of it yet, but obviously when you’re focused on making 13 episodes, it allows you to have more development time to dive deeper. That being said, there have been amazing shows on network television. One of my favorites is the first couple seasons of Alias. I’ll never forget seeing J.J.’s pilot for that show and just being blown away and floored by how phenomenal it was, and so it really is on a case-by-case basis. And Alex [Kurtzman] and Bob’s [Roberto Orci] writing on those first two seasons, I mean I was riveted, absolutely loved it. I really think it depends on what executives and who wants to do what at what particular point in time.
Something like a cable network or streaming service (a la Netflix, Amazon) would probably be best for a Terminator series, in terms of the budget and creation freedom it would allow for. Marvel has already reaped the benefits from working alongside Netflix on its Daredevil series (and have even more Netflix programs waiting in the pipeline), while the upcoming Stephen King adaptations The Stand and The Dark Tower may both have either cable or streaming TV show components. On the other hand, though, Marvel and ABC have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship to date too, while collaborating on Marvel Cinematic Universe TV properties – so network TV could also work for a Terminator show (as it did for Sarah Connor Chronicles).
However, before anyone gets too excited about a potential Terminator TV show that explores stories in the Terminator universe not involving the Connors – remember, those plans may wind up cancelled if Genisys doesn’t perform sufficiently well (both critically and, in particular, commercially). And for the time being, well, the buzz surrounding that film isn’t exactly great…
Terminator Genisys opens in U.S. theaters on July 1st, 2015. We’ll continue to keep you posted on the development status of a new Terminator TV series.