Terminator: Dark Fate hit the big screens a few weeks ago to high praise both by critics and fans. However, the general masses just didn’t go out to see it. The film turned out to be one of the biggest bombs this fall, grossing about $US 248 million with a $US 196 million production budget. (Note that most big-budget Hollywood productions need to make at least twice its budget before seeing any profits.)
In his first interview since the film’s shockingly underwhelming theatrical run, the director of Terminator: Dark Fate, Tim Miller told KCRW’s “The Business” podcast (via IndieWire) that he will never work with James Cameron again. Miller explains that he didn’t have much creative control in the making of the film.
I’m sure we could write a book on why it didn’t work [in regards to Dark Fate bombing]. I’m still not sure and I’m processing, but I’m very proud of the movie.
Giving us a peek into what appears to be a very tense production, Miller said that his disagreements with James Cameron (who’s the producer of Dark Fate) started in the early stages of development when the two couldn’t come to an agreement on what the story should be.
[I suggested] Legion is so powerful, the only way to beat it is going back in time and strangle it in the crib. Jim [James Cameron] says, ‘What’s dramatic about the humans losing?’ And I say, ‘Well, What’s dramatic about the humans winning and they just need to keep on winning?’ I like a last stand. It’s not his thing.
Despite being the director, Miller was powerless in situations like this as Cameron and David Ellison had final cut privileges. It’s easy to see why Cameron is so protective over this IP — it’s his baby after all. In fact, Cameron has said that one of his biggest regrets in life is selling the rights to Terminator all those years ago. So, when he finally got it back in 2019, it’s understandable that he would want to micro-manage it. However, it does beg the question, if Cameron loves Terminator so much, then why doesn’t he just direct it himself, as opposed to just helming a bunch of Avatar movies but I digress.
Miller said that despite his lack of autonomy over Terminator: Dark Fate, he still fought back against James Cameron at every turn.
My name is still on it as director. Even if I’m going to lose the fight. I still feel this obligation to fight because that is what the director is supposed to do. Fight for the movie.
That said, Miller also said that he has no hard feelings against Cameron whatsoever. But emphasised that he wouldn’t want to work with Cameron again because:
I just don’t want to be in a situation again where I don’t have the control to do what I think is right.