EXCLUSIVE: Now that Pacificor has pulled the Terminator franchise out of bankruptcy, the question becomes: How to wrap up one of the great sci-fi franchises for hardcore fans who feel neither of the last two installments measured up to the first two that James Cameron directed? Cameron seems unlikely to return to the fold (even though Terminator would fit nicely into the portfolio of 3D films like Fantastic Voyage he’s producing.) But what if I told you his writing partner on the first two films, William Wisher, has scripted a detailed 24-page treatment for Terminator 5, and a 4-page concept outline for Terminator 6? And that I’ve read both?
As a Terminator fanboy myself, I think Wisher has done a terrific job with a plot that accepts the storylines from Jonathan Mostow’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and McG’s Terminator: Salvation. Most interestingly, he turns the story back to the core characters and time travel storyline of the first two films that Wisher crafted with Cameron. Gale Anne Hurd shared writing credit with Cameron on the original film while Wisher got an “additional dialogue by” credit, but I’m told he was plenty involved. He and Cameron shared screenwriting credit on Terminator 2: Judgment Day. But Wisher walked away from the 3rd film out of loyalty to Cameron and had no involvement with Terminator: Salvation. Now he wants back in. I won’t give away Wisher’s plotlines. After all, it’s not clear at this point whether Pacificor — or Sony and Lionsgate, the most likely studios to ultimately make the next installments — will engage him to write the final installments. But I’ve received permission to disclose some high points:
Wisher’s 2-picture construct takes place in a post-apocalyptic battleground, and factors in an element of time travel that allows for Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese to interact beyond their single fateful meeting when he traveled back in time to protect her in the original film. Wisher has created a role for Arnold Schwarzenegger that is as surprising as his shift from villain in the first film, to John Connor’s bodyguard in the second. Schwarzenegger wouldn’t be needed until the final film, which wouldn’t shoot until after he ends his term as California Governor. And who wouldn’t want to see Linda Hamilton back in aerobic top fitness form as Sarah Connor?
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There are several new villains, and plenty of firepower. For instance, a swarm of “Night Crawlers,” 4 1/2-foot tall border sentries that are set like mines to spring up out of the ground and ambush rebel fighters with 10 MM pistols built into their wrists, and fingers and feet that are razor sharp. Also fresh off the Skynet assembly line are new shape-shifting cyborgs that can morph together in Transformers-like mode, and are more lethal than anything we’ve seen in previous Terminator installments.
Wisher presents a satisfying conclusion to what by then would be a 6-picture struggle between Skynet’s machines and John and Sarah Connor to preserve a future that allows mankind to prevail over the machines. I’d pay to see these movies. How about you?
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