Terminator: Genesis, the fifth installment of the cyborg-centric franchise, is currently filming in and around New Orleans. Purportedly a soft reboot of the series that began 30 years ago, the film will revisit iconic characters and scenes, adding a new, more time travel heavy spin to the proceedings. James Cameron is responsible for the first two Terminator films, which are the only ones really worth a damn—we do enjoy The Sarah Connor Chronicles, however. And while Genesis brings star Arnold Schwarzenegger back into the fold, Cameron is apparently involved as well, though in a very limited capacity.
Cameron doesn’t own any of the Terminator rights anymore, having sold them to help get the first movie made, which in turn helped launch his career. Over the weekend, the filmmaker appeared at the Hero Complex Film Festival in Los Angeles, and during a Q&A session, he talked about his role in the new film. He won’t receive any credit on this installment, but he does say that he is “loosely attached” to Genesis.
Though Cameron says he pays attention to the new Terminator films, he says he isn’t “terribly concerned about it one way or another.” There was also a time a few years ago when he could have purchased the rights to the franchise again. Carolco Pictures, who produced Terminator 2: Judgment Day, was in financial trouble, but opted not to pursue that option. He says:
I just felt as a filmmaker maybe I’ve gone beyond it. I really wasn’t that interested. I felt like I’d told the story I wanted to tell. I suppose I could have pursued it more aggressively and gone to the mat for it but I felt like I was laboring in someone else’s house in a sense because I had sold the rights very early on.
Over the years he has removed himself emotionally from the franchise he created. He says, “I kind of let it go and in the act of letting it go, I now have to live with the consequences of that—which is I can’t get too emotionally involved in it.”
Despite this level of removal—he’s also rather busy working on Avatar 2, 3, and 4, among myriad other projects—he could have played a more significant role in Genesis. He says:
[W]hen Megan Ellison bought the rights, she asked me if I wanted to be involved. I said “Well look. I don’t mind standing behind the curtain and whispering like some court advisory in 15th century Italy or something.” My goal in that was not to insinuate myself artistically but to try to make sure they stayed true to the Terminator character and the idea of Arnold being in it. Because he’s a friend of mine and we’ve been through all the wars together and everything. And I wanted them to see the possibilities I saw for what they could do with this character.
And then David Ellison took the project over from Megan and he and I met a couple times. And so Arnold is very much front and center in the new Terminator films. So I might have had some tiny effect on it — but obviously they had to make the right financial and creative decisions themselves so I’m not trying to take credit for the film that they’re making but that was my goal in being loosely attached to the film but I won’t have any credit on it.
Though he isn’t a huge part of the production, the fact that Cameron did what he could in order to make sure the new trilogy stays true to his vision and the spirit of the original, should make Terminator fans rest a little easier at night. Terminator: Genesis stars Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney, Lee Byung-hun, Matt Smith, and more, and opens everywhere July 1, 2015.