The Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie That Was Changed Due To Terrorism

The release of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Collateral Damage was delayed and drastically changed because of the 9/11 attacks.

By Britta DeVore | Published

With someone holding down a career in Hollywood for as long as Arnold Schwarzenegger, there are of course bound to be some movies (like The Sixth Day), that just don’t slap quite as hard as the others. But, one of Schwarzenegger’s films had some of the worst timing imaginable and almost didn’t make it off the ground. That movie was 2002’s Collateral Damage which had the bad luck of a scheduled release date less than a month after the 9/11 attacks in New York City and Washington D.C.

arnold schwarzenegger
Francesca Neri and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Collateral Damage (2002)

The year was 2001 and Americans were in a collective horrified state of shock and disbelief after a group of terrorists hijacked four planes and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; with one crashing in a small rural community in western Pennsylvania. With heartbreak and upset infiltrating everyday life, it was a really bad time for the release of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Collateral Damage. An action thriller through and through, the Andrew Davis (The Fugitive) helmed movie was chock full of moments that had the ability to cause PTSD for a grieving country, causing several changes to be implemented.

For one, the movie centers around Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character seeking revenge against a group of guerrilla fighters after a bomb detonation kills his wife and child, making it hit a little too close to home for those affected (i.e. the entire country) by the 9/11 attacks. In fact, the movie wielded such a possibility to mentally and emotionally affect U.S. citizens that the project’s original trailer was revamped to exclude a bombing on United States soil. Making even more changes, an entire scene was cut that depicted a terrorist, played by Modern Family’s Sofía Vergara, hijacking a plane. 

Initially meant to drop in theaters on October 5, 2001, the Arnold Schwarzenegger led film pumped the brakes and pushed the release date back to February 8, 2002. With such a close proximity to the tragic events, compounded with production’s need to change the already finished product, it was a clear cut move on the side of those backing the film. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t save it from the box office flop waiting for it in the next year. 

Bringing in only $78 million up against its $85 million budget, it’s no argument that the movie wasn’t the biggest success of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career. Currently sitting on Rotten Tomatoes with a 19% critics rating, the site cites the low score due to the film being just another run-of-the-mill action thriller with the Austrian-American muscle bound star. Along with Schwarzenegger, the feature also starred some very well known names in Hollywood including Elias Koteas (Ararat), Francesca Neri (Hannibal), Cliff Curtis (Training Day, Blow), John Leguizamo (Super Mario Bros., Carlito’s Way), and John Turturro (The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?). 

John Leguizamo and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Collateral Damage (2002)

While Collateral Damage may have been a flop for the Kindergarten Cop star, it may have given him the political boost he needed to land in office the following year. In 2003, running under the Republican party for the seat of Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger ousted Governor Gray Davis from office during a recall election. He would serve out the remainder of Governor Davis’ term before being re-elected in the 2006 election, finally ending his political career and returning to acting in 2011.

Ever the action hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger lost no time getting back into the genre via The Expendables 2 and later The Expendables 3. Since then, the actor has had a long list of parts in films including Aftermath, Killing Gunther, Terminator: Dark Fate, and the upcoming Kung Fury 2. He’ll also soon star in a Netflix series titled Utap that will see the Junior actor starring opposite Monica Barbaro in a story based off the actor’s 1994 action comedy, True Lies, in which he starred opposite Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Art Malik, and Tia Carrere. 

In his time between the release of his new projects, Arnold Schwarzenegger has kept us entertained. From talking about how proud he still is for his portrayal of Mr. Freeze in Joel Schumacher’s wild and wacky take on the caped crusader in 1997’s Batman & Robin to revealing why he never returned to the Predator franchise after the first incredibly successful film, the actor is keeping no secrets from us. While Collateral Damage may have been a massive flop, we’re thankful for the bountiful content Arnie has continued to crank out year after year.