James Cameron's 1984 movie The Terminator would've had a happy ending if the studio got their wish, but it also would've cut out the movie's best scene. Starring in The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a cyborg assassin sent from the year 2029 back in time on a mission to kill Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor in order to prevent her son, John Connor, from leading the future Resistance against the machines.
Even though the movie released decades ago, it remains a culturally significant touchstone in the entertainment industry, so much so that it may have inadvertently created a stigma for artificial intelligence in the same way that Steven Spielberg's Jaws heightened the public's fear of sharks. But that wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for the movie's brutal and horrifying ending, in which Schwarzenegger's T-800 is shown in its full exoskeletal form. However, a much happier ending for The Terminator was briefly considered at one point in time.
Slashfilm reported today that the ending fans have come to know and love – wherein which Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) dies after the Terminator is killed, which saves his and Sarah Connor's child – almost didn't happen. After a first screening of the film, notes from early viewers nearly led to a very different ending, according to the film's co-writer and producer, Gale Anne Hurd. She stated, there was pressure to “not even have The Terminator rise out as the endoskeleton, but just end with Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor hugging.”
Hurd goes on to say that as The Terminator was her first big film, she and Cameron never doubted their ideas for an ending that balked at a neat wrap up, the traditional Hollywood treatment. Luckily, working as a strong team, Cameron and Hurd stood up for their original vision and it became perhaps the catalyst for the entire franchise that would follow.
This news about The Terminator is just one story in a sea of stories from Hollywood producers who've either had their visions changed or have been asked to change their visions for their projects, some of which have gone on to be better movies, but also some that could've gone the other way. There's too often an assumption made that movie viewers can only handle the storybook or fairytale endings that are perhaps easier to handle. Yet, as audiences get more and more film literate in a society saturated with media, that type of ending just becomes more predictable and less desirable. The Terminator has withstood the test of time and is in itself a testament to the fact that audiences aren't always searching for the traditional Hollywood happy ending.
- Terminator 6 (2019) release date: Nov 01, 2019