Tim Miller Opens up on ‘Dark Fate’s Box Office Bomb, Creative Squabbles with James Cameron

     November 22, 2019

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Despite its earning critical goodwill, especially in comparison to its predecessors, Terminator: Dark Fate will likely go down in history as a potentially franchise-killing box office bomb. How does its director, Tim Miller (Deadpool), feel about that? In an unprecedentedly candid interview with Los Angeles radio station KCRW, Miller got into his feelings about the whole affair — and spoke about his difficulties working with Terminator creator James Cameron and Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, too.

“I’m sure we could write a book on why it didn’t work,” mused Miller on Dark Fate‘s financial failure. “I’m still not sure and I’m processing, but I’m very proud of the movie.” Part of Miller’s processing has included examining unhappy reactions closely, with Miller concluding many of these reactions are unrelated to his actual film. “The things they seemed to hate the most about the movie, were things I can’t control. I can’t control you didn’t like Genysis or you felt betrayed by Terminator 4 [Salvation]. I can’t help that.” To help mitigate the losses of Skydance Media’s David Ellison as much as possible, Miller actually bought Ellison dinner when the two met to discuss their path post-Dark Fate. And Ellison said, much to Miller’s joyful surprise, “What are we going to do next together?”

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Image via Paramount Pictures

As far as James Cameron, he had previously alluded to his and Miller’s struggles making the movie together, telling Collider that “blood is still being scrubbed off the walls from those creative battles.” Miller alluded to not only these battles, but also battles with Ellison: “Even though Jim is a producer and David Ellison is a producer and they technically have final cut and ultimate power, 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.” According to Miller, Cameron had a nearly a diametrically opposed view on the basic narrative structure of Terminator: Dark Fate. Miller wanted to open the film with the humans losing the war against the machines — specifically against Legion, the new version of Skynet — which motivates going back in time again. Cameron, on the other hand, wanted to open with the humans winning. And Miller said:

Legion is so powerful, the only way to beat it is going back in time and strangle it in the crib. Jim 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.

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Image via 20th Century Fox

While Miller and Cameron continued to clash through the film’s editing — and Miller admitted that he would likely not work with Cameron again because he doesn’t “want to be in a situation again where I don’t have the control to do what I think is right” — both parties were ultimately able to put their squabbles in perspective. Miller said “As far as donnybrooks go, it’s not that big of a deal,” and Cameron told Miller he wanted to buy him a beer the next time they were in LA together. Miller also compared this all to his less-than-desired experience working with Reynolds on Deadpool: “It became clear that Ryan wanted to be in control of the franchise. You can work that way as a director, quite successfully, but I can’t.”

Check out both our Terminator: Dark Fate and Deadpool reviews. And if you’re craving an even more thorough deep dive into all things Skynet, here’s our attempt to untangle the knots of the Terminator timeline.

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