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Terminator Sequel Gets Title, Solidifies Release Date

Hope you weren't expecting the next Terminator flick to be all sunshine and puppies.

Paramount has announced the title for the upcoming James Cameron-produced, Tim Miller-directed entry in the series, and it is Terminator: Dark Fate. The studio also confirmed it is sticking by the previously announced release date of November 1 despite some not-insignificant competition. (via Deadline)

While 1984's The Terminator and 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day (both directed by Cameron) are both unimpeachable classics, the series has largely seen diminishing returns with each new installment. 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was warmly, if not ecstatically, received; it was followed by 2009's Christian Bale-led Terminator: Salvation, which tripped all over itself trying to tell a coherent story and was widely seen as a disappointment. 2015's Terminator: Genisys unfortunately continued the trend, with plotting as clumsy as its title; while it posted the lowest domestic gross (adjusted for inflation) of the entire series, it did quite well internationally, and as we all know, franchises can never die as long as they continue to make money.

This time around, however, the filmmakers appear to be remedying the dearth of creativity which has defined the series in recent years with a "return to roots" strategy. Cameron will be involved as a producer for the first time since T2, and Dark Fate will be a direct sequel to that flick, ignoring all three of the films mentioned above. (via The Hollywood Reporter) Also returning to the series for the first time since 1991: Linda Hamilton, who will play an older, wiser, and presumably even more badass Sarah Connor. She'll be dealing with an older, grayer T-800 to be portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who time has shown couldn't turn down a Terminator movie if his life depended on it.

The jettisoning of the insanely convoluted canon established by the non-Cameron films can't be seen as anything but an extremely wise move, as the entire Terminator universe had been threatening to collapse in on itself like a supernova made of plot holes. The involvement of Miller is also a distinct plus; the director brought a lively, whip-crack energy to 2016's Deadpool, which made pretty much all of the money and single-handedly proved the viability of R-rated superhero films in today's market. He'll be working from a screenplay assembled by committee, but as committees go, it's a pretty formidable one: story credit goes to Miller and David Ellison (a longtime producer on the Mission: Impossible series), with scripting duties handled by Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds), Billy Ray (The Hunger Games, Captain Phillips), Justin Rhodes (Grassroots), and David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice). 

As for the remainder of the cast, it's heavy on hot, mostly younger talent. It includes Mackenzie Davis (The Martian, Blade Runner 2049), Diego Boneta (Monster Party), Gabriel Luna (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Ghost Rider), Stephen Cree (Outlander), and Brett Azar (Black Wake) as an apparently updated T-800 model.

While the cluster-screws that were Salvation and Genisys may have taken some of the wind out of Terminator fans' sails, we're going to go ahead call it now: Dark Fate will get the venerable franchise back on solid ground, and if it's a hit, we can expect it to lead off a new Sarah Connor-centric trilogy. Speaking with THR back in 2017, Cameron expressed a desire to regain some authorship over the franchise he created after leaving it in the hands of others for about three decades, and touched on how some of its themes are even more relevant now than in the series' glory years. "I look at what's happening now with the emergence of artificial general intelligence equal to or greater than humans', and you've got Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking and others saying that this could be really bad for the survival of the human race," he said. "What was science fiction in the '80s is now imminent. It's coming over the horizon at us. And there's been a resurgence of fear and concern about nuclear weapons and so on. So all of these apocalyptic elements are out there."

He went on to somewhat cheekily state, "We're pretending the other films were a bad dream. Or an alternate timeline, which is permissible in our multi-verse. This was really driven more by [Miller] than anybody, surprisingly, because I came in pretty agnostic about where we took it. The only thing I insisted on was that we somehow revamp it and reinvent it for the 21st century."

Miller, also in on the conversation, called the first two films "more relevant today than they were when [Cameron] made them," elaborating that his own personal case of heebie-jeebies about the potential for real-world technology to run amok informed his vision for the film. "I know Hawking and Musk think we can put some roadblocks in there. I'm not so sure we can," he said. "I can't imagine what a truly artificial intelligence will make of us. Jim's brought some experts in to talk to us, and it's really interesting to hear their perspective. Generally, they're scared as s**t, which makes me scared."

This, of course, implies that Miller intends for his film to scare the you-know-what out of us, a feat which Terminator flicks have generally not bothered to attempt for quite some time. Paramount's decision to hold firm on the film's November 1 release date broadcasts the studio's confidence; it'll be going up against Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad, an animated offering with an insane all-star cast, and the freshly rebooted Charlie's Angels, which will feature Kristin Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska as the latest iteration of the slyly humorous, reliably box office-busting secret agent team. Circle that date on your calendar, and we'll keep an ear to the ground for any additional details.