“I think the problem, and I’m going to wear this one, is that I refused to do it without Arnold,” Cameron explained. Director Tim Miller didn’t want to include Schwarzenegger, but he did want Cameron’s involvement, so he relented and allowed the producer to bring in the original Terminator. From that point, things got out of hand, Cameron recalled, because Miller brought back Hamilton as Sarah Connor.
“I think what happened is I think the movie could have survived having Linda in it, I think it could have survived having Arnold in it,” Cameron reasoned. “But when you put Linda and Arnold in it and then, you know, she’s 60-something, he’s 70-something, all of a sudden it wasn’t your Terminator movie, it wasn’t even your dad’s Terminator movie, it was your granddad’s Terminator movie.”
That might seem obvious to him now, but Cameron didn’t see the problem during production. “We loved it, we thought it was cool, you know, that we were making this sort of direct sequel to a movie that came out in 1991,” he said. But such a movie could not connect with an audience who “wouldn’t even have been born for another 10 years” after T2 came out.
Dark Fate bombed hard at the box office, losing $122.6 million and putting an end to the franchise (for now). But given that Avatar: The Way of Water isn’t quite meeting financial expectations, perhaps part of the problem might extend past the stars on screen to the director himself.