Terminator: Dark Fate is projected for a relatively soft opening at the U.S. box office in November. The Terminator franchise has certainly come a long ways since James Cameron's original film hit theaters in 1984. Essentially a slasher film with a sci-fi twist, Cameron's The Terminator was praised by critics for its innovative approach, and covered its $6.4 million price tag many times over at the box office. This led to Terminator 2: Judgement Day securing a budget in the area of $100 million, transforming the series into the costly juggernaut it is today.
Celebrated for its blend of popcorn entertainment and thoughtful sci-fi themes, Judgement Day went on to make more than half a billion dollars at the global box office. It remains the highest-grossing Terminator movie to this day, with the three sequels that followed (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation, Terminator: Genisys) failing to match its performance, either critically or commercially. Now comes Dark Fate, a partial reboot that serves as a direct sequel to Judgement Day and ignores the last three Terminator films, in the hopes of restoring the property to its former glory.
According to Box Office Pro, Dark Fate is currently predicted to open with $35-45 million at the domestic box office. That would be an improvement on the last Terminator film, 2015's Genisys, which debuted with $27 million stateside. However, it could potentially be a step down from the openings for 2003's Terminator 3 and 2009's Salvation ($44 million and $42 million), and might not be that much better than Judgement Day's $32 million debut in 1991 (not adjusted for inflation).
There are a few factors working in Dark Fate's favor right now. The film marks Linda Hamilton's long-awaited return as Sarah Conner from the first two Terminator movies, and reunites with her Arnold Schwarzenegger for the first time since Judgement Day. Cameron's involvement as a producer and co-writer has also been played up in the Dark Fate trailers, allowing the film to tap into audiences' nostalgia for Cameron's original entries in the franchise. At the same time, Salvation and Genisys especially struggled to connect with fans, which will make it harder for them to get excited about the proposition of yet another sequel that could kick-off a new trilogy. Meanwhile, casual moviegoers might be a bit confused about how Dark Fate fits into the rest of the Terminator continuity.
With a budget estimated at $160-200 million, Dark Fate may need a strong international turnout to make it profitable. Fortunately, its prospects are looking brighter in that regard. Genisys is one of a number of recent tentpoles that disappointed domestically only to make the vast majority of its money across the pond, grossing four-fifths of its $441 million total overseas. The Cameron-produced Alita: Battle Angel performed very similarly earlier this year, which just goes to show how much pull Cameron's name has around the world. So, even if Dark Fate struggles in the U.S., there's a reasonable chance it will still turn a profit thanks to its worldwide performance.
Source: Box Office Pro
- Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) release date: Nov 01, 2019