The Terminator franchise is back with Netflix developing an animated series from The Batman writer Mattson Tomlin. James Cameron launched one of the most popular movie franchises in 1984 with The Terminator. The first movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton was a massive hit but it wasn’t until 1991 that Cameron revisited the sci-fi world. Even though Terminator 2: Judgement Day proved to be an even bigger success, that is where the franchise concluded for more than a decade.
Over the last twenty years, Hollywood has repeatedly attempted to reboot the Terminator franchise to mostly underwhelming results. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines arrived in 2003 to mixed reviews and made over $400 million worldwide, but it didn’t turn a profit. Terminator Salvation‘s release in 2009 was met with harsh reviews and a small box office haul, while Terminator Genisys got worse reviews but made over $440M globally. The most recent film, Terminator: Dark Fate, received positive reviews in 2019 but had the lowest box office total of the sequels. While this seemed to indicate a fatigue with the franchise some audiences had, it is returning already.
Netflix has ordered a new Terminator anime-style show straight to series according to Variety. The project is being written by The Batman‘s Mattson Tomlin, who will also serve as the showrunner. Netflix is working with Skydance to produce the series, and Production I.G will be responsible for the animation after working on Ghost in the Shell and B: The Beginning. The show is in the early stages of development at this point so no plot details are known at this time. It is also unclear when it will be released. Tomlin issued the following statement about his vision for the Terminator animated show:
Anyone who knows my writing knows I believe in taking big swings and going for the heart. I’m honored that Netflix and Skydance have given me the opportunity to approach ‘Terminator’ in a way that breaks conventions, subverts expectations and has real guts.
After four Terminator sequels that failed to hit the mark, the endless possibilities that come with animation are an exciting development for the franchise. It would not have been terribly surprising for another Terminator movie to be announced given the franchise IP. Taking the series to the small screen for an anime show will at the very least be a drastically different way for the franchise to evolve. This format appears to be what excites Tomlin about the project too, as he teases it will break conventions and subvert expectations.
The question that fans will be left with as a result of this news is what story the show will tell. The Terminator timeline is muddled and confusing at this point and the focus of the films has primarily been on stopping Judgement Day or another version of the technological takeover. It would be quite interesting if the Terminator show goes back to the start of the war with the machines. Depending on what story is told, the series could even bring Schwarzenegger or other franchise veterans back in a voice-only capacity. As Tomlin refines the idea for the Terminator animated show, the details that come in the future should provide fans with a better sense of what the project will entail.