Terminator Genisys: Schwarzenegger Is Back, Older but not Obsolete?

terminator_genisys_posterParamount’s “Terminator: Genisys” brings Arnold Schwarzenegger back in his star-making role of three decades ago.

I’ve Aged, but I’m not Obsolete

Schwarzenegger is hoping to reinvigorate his faltering film career this holiday weekend by breaking out a certain cyborg’s trademark sunglasses and leather jacket.  His recent films, “Escape Plan,” “Sabotage,” and others were all box-office failures.

Trying to ousmart viewers (and, of course, fans of the three-decade series), officially speaking, Terminator Genisys is a strange film, a hybrid that is not a remake, not a reboot, and not a sequel.  The filmmaker have tried to reimagine a new sort of picture, based on the Cameron source material.  And it’s doen in such a way that viewers don’t have to be familiar with any of the four previous films to comprehend Terminator Genisys is meant to be a stand-alone.  Whether or not it succeeds in doing that is another story.

The premise of the new film: When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and safeguard the future, an unexpected turn of events creates a fractured timeline. Sgt. Reese finds himself in a new and unfamiliar version of the past, facing with unlikely allies, including a new T-800 terminator, the Guardian (Schwarzenegger), dangerous new enemies, and an unexpected new mission: To reset the future.

The film is on track to debut to between $50 million and $55 million over its first five days of release and should pull in $30 million to $35 million over the July Fourth weekend.

The fifth film in the “Terminator” series debuts Wednesday across 3,700 locations. It looks at ongoing fallout from Skynet’s ill-conceived forays into artificial intelligence, following human resistance leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) on another time-bending adventure.

Reviews have been weak, with critics handing the film a 38% rotten ranking on Rotten Tomatoes.

The “Terminator” series has had past success over Independence Day, with “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” considered the high-point of the series, and “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” perhaps the nadir, both debuting over the holiday to strong results.

Skydance Productions, which is partnering on the film with Paramount, hopes that “Terminator: Genisys” will launch future sequels and has reportedly planned a sixth and seventh installment for 2017 and 2018.  The picture will need to get a boost from overseas crowds to justify that kind of investment. Last weekend, the film pulled in $8.3 million from 10 small territories, a sign that the Terminator brand may resonate more strongly in foreign countries.

Thanks to “Jurassic World” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the summer box office has been scorching. Don’t look for this July 4th to burn through any records. Neither “Terminator: Genisys” nor “Magic Mike XXL” is on track to crack the top 20 list of biggest Independence Day weekends, leaving “Transformers: Dark of the Moon’s” $97.8 million high-water mark undisturbed.

On paper, it looked like “Magic Mike XXL” and “Terminator Genisys” would carve up the holiday between themselves, with the stripper sequel nabbing women and the action thriller roping men. It won’t work exactly like that. Few expected “Jurassic World” and “Inside Out” would remain such box office forces. Both pictures could pull in similar numbers to the two new wide releases, racking up as much as $50 million for the five-day period.

There’s one major cause for concern, however. The holiday falls on a Saturday, which will cut into one of the biggest moviegoing days of the week, as consumers steer clear of the multiplexes in favor of barbecues and fireworks watching.