Terminator: Dark Fate
An augmented human and Sarah Connor must stop an advanced liquid Terminator from hunting down a young girl, whose fate is critical to the human race.
Over Christmas of 2017, I was vacationing with my family in Tennessee. A call was patched through to my room. It was David Ellison, the CEO of Skydance. I’d never spoken to David before. He told me that they were going to relaunch Terminator, but what was different about this iteration was that James Cameron himself would be involved in the franchise again – as a producer and story writer. They were envisioning a new trilogy and a mini writers room to break it. I had adapted a remake of Fantastic Voyage for Jim and Guillermo del Toro that prior year. The project was in limbo, but Jim, who had enjoyed my work on it, asked if I would be involved in this new Terminator – co-writing the first one, specifically.
When James Cameron calls and asks if you want to break story with him – you say “Hell yes!” and “How soon?!”. I told myself: Even if nothing comes of it, the experience will be incredible. And it was. I joined a mini room that included Josh Friedman, Chip Eglee, and Justin Rhodes, with whom I’d adapted Fantastic Voyage. We spent about six weeks kicking around ideas. That time with Jim was a masterclass in writing. I don’t think there’s anyone better at structure and iterating ideas.
Many, many ideas came out of those six weeks, but only a handful of them made it into the final film. I can only hope the rest will see the light of day because the direction in which the story was heading was mind-boggling.
The other “best thing” that came out of the experience is that we were involved in bringing Linda Hamilton back to the franchise. As a fanboy, who had seen Terminator before it was released (in a film class back in my USC days), this was a dream come true. After that class screening, I met Cameron, and we talked for a good 20 minutes. I was a wide-eyed kid. James had only done Piranha. The first Terminator was months away from being unleashed upon the world. I had seen motion-picture history, and I plied him with questions. It was remarkable to me that, 30 years later, I would get the opportunity to contribute to the resurrection of that very same franchise.