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Terminator: Salvation Director Reflects on Film Failure

Terminator: Hi had so much potential when it hit theaters in 2009. Instead of following the story of the T-800 or undoing the dark ending of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Hi boasted a new story that finally gave us the heroic John Connor promised since the first movie in 1984. With writing support from Jonathan Nolan and starring Christian Bale, who both had just done the mega-smash The black Knightand starring Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese, with then-upcoming Sam Worthington as cyborg Marcus Wright, Hi seemed like the rare prequel that might actually accompany later films.

So what went wrong? Although Bale could say it has something to do with a production assistant messing up the lighting, Hi director McG recently offered his own thoughts. “We were so close to nailing this thing properly,” McG said. The Hollywood Reporter. “I had a lot of success in this movie, but I didn’t quite make the landing.”

The ending they failed to meet finds Connor mortally wounded in a resistance attack that destroys Skynet’s supply of weapons, including the newly designed T-800s. Despite mistrust of him, Wright sacrifices himself to save Connor’s life, allowing the resistance to continue their fight. If he could have done something different, McG says he’d “be stuck with the dark ending that we photographed that was cut.”

The director does not share his planned ending with The Hollywood Reporter, but he already mentioned it. In a 2009 discussion with EO, McG describes an ending in which Connor dies and Marcus’ sacrifice plays out differently. “Marcus offers his physical body, so Connor’s exterior is placed above his machine body.” The heroes later encounter this version of Marcus, thinking it is still John Connor. But in the final moments, “Connor stands up and then there’s a little flicker of red in his eyes and he shoots Kate, he shoots Kyle, he shoots everyone in the room.” In this film, “Skynet wins”.