The Terminator franchise has seen a lot of momentum in recent months – as the series will go back to the drawing board for an all new trilogy. Terminator: Salvation proved to be a profitable, but overall underwhelming, attempt to expand the narrative beyond time-traveling trips back to the young John Connor (as well as mother Sarah Connor) and deliver new future-set plot possibilities. Despite decent worldwide box office totals ($370 million), Paramount Pictures decided there was a better way to capitalize on franchise popularity than to continue the Christian Bale-starring future plot. Instead, the studio has hired Thor: The Dark World director Alan Taylor to helm the first entry in a mapped-out series reboot from writers Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) and Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry).
The reboot is expected to revisit a pivotal moment in the original 1985 Terminator but take the on-going story in a very different direction. Now, we’re getting word that Skydance Productions and Annapurna Pictures have begun development on a new Terminator TV series – one that will directly tie-into the movie reboot story.
The report comes from THR who claim that X:Men: First Class, Thor, and Fringe writers Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller have been hired to develop the ongoing series story as well as executive produce. According to the article, the new Terminator series and movie reboot will be designed to stand on their own, but much like Marvel’s multi-medium Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tie-in, will also provide opportunities for crossover as they “intersect with each other in some surprising and dramatic ways.” Time will tell what “surprising and dramatic ways” actually translate into when the Terminator TV series hits the air – since one of the major criticisms of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show has been the mostly superficial connections to the larger shared cinematic universe. While the Marvel TV series has started to find its footing and deliver compelling adventure and drama, the writers continue to struggle with impactful crossover connectivity.
That said, the Terminator universe might be a little easier to manage – given that it primarily focuses on the ongoing battle between two parties, the humans and SkyNet on Earth. Instead of superpowers, alternate realms, and aliens, the biggest challenge for a Terminator cross-medium story will be ensuring that the time-travel rules and events are consistent between both the TV show and movies. Viewers who regularly tuned-in for the last Terminator TV series, The Sarah Connor Chronicles (starring Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, and Summer Glau) will remember a number of head-scratching time travel conundrums that undermined the larger movie canon as well as TV show story arcs. It’s an understandable hurdle, since on-going time travel stories are not easy to pull-off – even fan-favorite series Doctor Who (often championed as one of the best time travel stories on film) struggles from time to time in ensuring that overarching rules have not been undermined. As a result, Stentz and Miller will definitely have to work extra hard to stay one step ahead of observant fans that will, without question, be looking for holes in the plot and sci-fi logic.
As for what viewers can expect from the series itself, Skydance Productions and Annapurna Pictures have yet to release any concrete info regarding which characters the TV element will focus on as well as how it might connect to the movie reboot trilogy. Taylor’s film reboot is reported to focus, once again, on Sarah Connor – as a future-set John Connor (possibly played by Tom Hardy) sends the titular Terminator back in time to protect his twenty-something mother from SkyNet’s malevolent cyborg assassins. Yet, with increasingly high profile actresses Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and Brie Larson (Short Term 12) on the shortlist for the movie role of young Sarah Connor, it’s hard to imagine that the TV series will also focus on that iconic character – especially after she was a primary focus in the last TV effort. A major role for Schwarzenegger, who will be featured heavily in the new film reboot, is even less likely.
Yet, maybe a side story that doesn’t revolve around the same crew of characters we’ve seen again and again (portrayed by different actors and actresses for almost three decades), could be a smart way to explore fresh story lines set in the intriguing Terminator universe. After all, John Connor may be the poster child for fighting the machines but he can’t be the only future-hero that’s worth following? The Terminator story and world is rich with opportunity, allowing for copious room to expand and explore stories outside of the core movie plot line – meaning that if Stentz and Miller succeed, audiences could be treated to the best of both worlds: new blockbuster Terminator action with Schwarzenegger as well as interesting side stories that explore elements of SkyNet never seen before.
Terminator 5/Terminator (2015) will open in theaters on July 1st, 2015. The new Terminator TV series does not have a release date yet.
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