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Arnold returns to 'Terminator.' Is it a good idea?

April 26, 2011 |  7:06 pm

The news Tuesday that Arnold Schwarzenegger will return to the "Terminator" franchise provides a colorful coda to several story lines.

The new film, loosely dubbed "Terminator 5," is being shopped to studios. There is no script or screenwriter, but a person close to what Hollywood terms a film package, who asked not to be identified because of the early nature of the negotiations, confirmed that Creative Artists Agency has begun shopping the rights to make the movie, though with no plotline as yet. Schwarzenegger, the person said, would play a starring role as the title character in the science-fiction film, not a supporting role in which he passed the baton to a new hero. The movie would be directed by "Fast Five" director Justin Lin.

The package represents the latest twist in a tortuous business story. Early last year, Sony and Lionsgate joined forces to bid on the rights held by the Halcyon Co., the bankrupt "Terminator Salvation" producer. But, in a controversial decision, the rights were handed to the Santa Barbara hedge fund  Pacificor, which had backed Halcyon.

In May, Hollywood agency William Morris Endeavor announced it had been chosen by Pacificor to sell the rights to studios. But no sale materialized, and CAA replaced WME; CAA, which has long represented Schwarzenegger, held an obvious advantage: the clout to convince the actor to come back.

Tuesday's news raises nearly as many creative questions as it answers. The offshoot "Terminator Salvation," directed by McG, was roughed up by critics but pocketed $371 million worldwide. It was supposed to be the start of a new trilogy starring Sam Worthington. But the return of Arnold, and the fact that McG will not have a place on this film, means that the new Skynet saga could pick up the narrative trail of the third picture, 2003's "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," or start in yet another new direction. ("Machines" finished with Nick Stahl's John Connor and Claire Danes' Kate Brewster running from Schwarzenegger's Terminator, with all three still alive at movie's end.)

But perhaps the biggest point the news highlights involves Schwarzenegger's career direction. The 63-year-old former governor told The Times recently he's diving back into acting. "I can step very comfortably into the entertainment world and do an action movie with the same violence that I've always done," he said, predicting he'd be on a set by the end of the year.

At the time, some speculated he could star in the drug-themed action film "The Last Stand" or the prison-escape movie "The Tomb," both new properties and potential franchises. Those remain possibilities, especially with a script not yet written for "Terminator."

But it's clear Schwarzenegger also has the past on his mind. He's already signed on for a cartoon called "The Governator," featuring his voice and likeness. Now it looks as though he's intent not only riffing on past glories but reliving them.

It remains to be seen whether Schwarzenegger could take on the required stunts at his age, and whether a population that didn't think much of him as a governor wants to vote for him with their dollars at the box office. It would also be nearly 30 years since he first incarnated the Terminator role in the James Cameron original; there are few examples of an actor holding a lead film role for that long.

Still, the former governor would have precedent in a return to the screen. Both Jesse Ventura and Fred Thompson went back to acting once they said sayonara to their political careers. As Joe Klein said when we wrote last spring about Arnold's possible return to acting, "When politicians leave office, they almost always try to re-ingratiate themselves with the public they've inevitably disappointed. Acting would be a way for Schwarzenegger to restore himself in the eyes of the public."

-- Steven Zeitchik, with reporting by Ben Fritz




Hollywood wonders whether Arnold will be back

Arnold Schwarzenegger is looking for some action

Terminator rights given to Pacificor

Photo: "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines." Credit: Warner Bros.

Comments () | Archives (49)

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Speaking as a Californian, I don't think much at all about Arnold's record as governor. I don't think anyone else inside of California does either. Arnold just needs to go where ever it is that old "action hero" actors go when they are over the hill with one foot in the grave.

I don't know if it's a good idea to see him as Terminator again. have you seen him in his SPEEDOs here in Hawaii? YIKES! he needs to start playing characters like those in Million Dollar baby; some old trainer or old uncle. Whay about playing roles as someone's grandpa? That might be less strain on the knees Arnie.

Good idea, Mike-

An aging Terminator, a la Rocky 6 (or 7?), would be nostalgic yet realistic enough for audiences. Put just a little more of that subtle comedy Schwartz is known for and you've got yourself a profitable project.

Here's the pitch:

Arnold's character was sent back in time to commute the sentences of convicted felons as political favors.

"The Governator" could run as an animated short ala "Bambi Meets Godzilla" as a prelude into Arnie's purported up-coming latest Terminator franchise flick. Just to set the tone for the whole endeavour.

I have a screenplay!!

The Terminator morphs into a nutbag republican governor of California. To disguise who he really is he calls his opponents "girly men" and keeps saying "I'll be back" to the delight of other republican nut bags.

Then he wastes 300 megadollars on 5 initiatives that fail. Then he morphs into a middle of the road republican that is immediately rejected by the republicans nut bag wing. He spends the rest of his political being rejected by both parties.

But at the end the Terminator gets the last laugh as he pardons the murderous son of a political ally. Then he gets in a republican time machine and denies his remarkable failure as governor never happened.

I enjoy a good action movie as much as the next guy. After 6 years of being attacked for being a state employee, I will never watch another Arnold movie. Plenty of my co-workers feel the same. Even the people at work who voted for him, hated him at the end.

If the movie distributor is smart, do not release this movie in CA. People might just burn down the movie house.

He couldn't make a third rate governor. Maybe he'll be a good second rate actor in "B" movies? They have to find a niche for somewhere.

"I want to be back."

They are listening Mike, but Hollywood doesn't care.
You're from out of state.

It's gonna be great. Instead of having to take the blame for a disfunctional state legislature he will be getting raved for his new film.

Being a Governor in a very high and honorable position he should not go back to the role of the 'Terminator'. To remain in the limelight his aim is the president of the United States, if successful he will be remembered forever. He has the personality, the looks and the integrity of a Statesman being a former Governor he was already half way up the ladder of the top post of the USA!

No surprise to hear that Arnold Schwarzenegger is comfortably falling back into his trademark role(now that his political career as California governor has ended).

Ahnold's movie-making career is in the same place it was when he was elected - in the dumper.

No it is not a good idea. Terminator is OVER. It ended quite well with the Sarah Conner Chroicles and should be left there. Any new movie or even series is beating a dead horse.

I myself being a sci-fi fan love each and every Terminator movie. Is it a good idea for Arnold to give it another shot? Only if there is a VERY GOOD story line that doesn't contradict the other movies. What more of this story could be told? After the third movie, there seemed like there was nothing more to explain. Would this be a stand alone film? Would this be a live action/cgi film with Arnold providing his voice to a cg version of himself? People bring up the argument, "How can a machine age?", well Skynet created a machine with flesh and blood. It even had bad breath. Wouldn't this flesh age too? I'd buy it. So again, is it a good idea? I have to say yes. Even if it's just to see how good these directors/writers/Arnold really are.

Just a little jealousy in this author's article, don't ya think?
Probably a little dweeb with 10-inch arms who no one ever notices. And, an'anti Arnold fool from CA because Arnie tried to take out the unions who are bankrupting the state (like Brown is doing now, but I guess it's not so bad because Brown is a leftist, right?).

Arnold just got sick of working with liberals who don't ever PRODUCE anything.

If Arnold's films were so bad, why did they make so much money? And yes, he was in Salvation (albeit CG). He has been in every one of the 'T' movies.

I'd be more concerned about his wife you liberals. I mean seriously, what has she ever done and what can she do? Some kind of 'The View' thing?

Arnie should star, but not as the Terminator. He should play the human on which the Terminator prototype was based, with the end of his role transitioning into the start of the original movie...full circle

JohnMCNg - you do realise the Arnie is not constitutionally qualified to be President, right?

No script for new movie? How about using his real life terminator role in the demise of his marriage? What is it with athletes, movie stars and politicians where they cheat like crazy outside committed relationships? Just another example in long line of men behaving badly. I feel sorry for Maria, who gave up her career to support this guy. When I hear men comment on how they don't understand women's anger towards men, I point them to many, many examples of men behaving badly. Not that women don't do these things as well. Somehow it just seems that men do it more and then skate away as if nothing is wrong.

No, no, no. At the end of Rise of the Machines John Connor and Kate Brewster enter a VIP fallout shelter where they are surprised to find it does not contain Skynet's core servers, and are thus unable to stop it from launching the nuclear holocaust. Connor explains in an epilogue that Skynet then existed solely in cyberspace on millions of ordinary computers all over the world, that the Terminator knew this all along (Judgment Day was inevitable) but that he, Connor, did not want to accept it. His purpose was to ensure Connor and Brewster's survival.

Just prior to this scene the Terminator held the huge fallout door open for Connor and Brewster as they barely managed to escape the clutches of the T-X (the morphing, liquid metal female terminator) that is badly damaged by the helicopter wreck. The Terminator removes the T-X's fuel cell and says "You are terminated!" But before being crushed by the huge door, he tells Connor he will see him again and thereby set up the scenario of the sequel.

Personally, I would love to see a movie that picks up on this storyline simply because it is all so classic. I don't believe it matters that Arnie is older and flabbier because he'll be wearing the standard leather outfit appropriated from some bar patron, and of course some sunglasses.

One of my favorite parts of Rise of the Machines is during the final epic fight scene between the Terminator and the T-X (played by Kristanna Loken) in the bathroom where she walks by a full length mirror and glances to the side to check her appearance in the reflection the same as any human female would when strolling past a store front window.

I agree, the robot/Cyborg that was Arnold - Blew himself up in the last movie. But bringing him back won't be an issue since He was a T-1000 (?) Series model, meaning he was 1 of many, maybe even thousands like "him".

I'm surprised no one has yet to mention that. Now, whether the movie will be a GREAT movie, I don't know - bringing in the Director of FAST FIVE.. does not guarantee a GREAT movie. Fast Five isn't doing that well compared to THOR.

I haven't even thought of going to see it, and it's been out almost 2 weeks now. I'll wait for it to come out on Bluray :)

Arnold looks like a Shar-Pei; no offense.

As everyone knows it takes two in any marriage and he isn't the only person this has happened to. Give him a chance - he is a very good actor.

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