Terminator Salvation is the fourth installment in the action-sci-fi franchise, and one of the least acclaimed. The original ending had Marcus, a Terminator/human hybrid giving his life, literally, to John Connor, played by Sam Worthington and Christian Bale respectively. It wasn’t reviewed kindly and caused the franchise to reboot with Terminator Genysis in 2015.
Director McG talks to The Hollywood Reporter about a career introspection revealed that there was an ending that existed that he thinks fans would actually enjoy.
“We were so close to nailing this thing properly,” he said. “We brought in Jonah Nolan. We had Christian Bale. And we tried to honor the Terminator faithful and James Cameron himself. I had a lot of success in that movie but I didn’t quite successfully landed.”
In Salvation, John was saved with a heart transplant from Marcus after sacrificing himself to save John and his friends from a T-800 attack, which featured a CGI Arnold Schwartzenegger. This ending didn’t exactly match how he and writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris envisioned and originally shot a different ending.
“We tested it in secret, on the grounds of Warner Bros. I voluntarily brought in some Terminator devotees, people who were in focus groups, and they were rebuffed,” McG continued. “Me and [former Warners film exec Jeff] Robinov looked at himself like, ‘F—‘. And I really thought we had the tiger by the tail up to this point. And it’s not that the film failed. It just didn’t work out as well as we wanted it to. And it wasn’t as fondly regarded as we wanted it to be at the time. I would have stayed with the dark ending that we shot that was cut.”
Terminator Salvation ultimately had a worldwide gross of $371 million against a budget of $200 million and was nearly eclipsed by Bale’s outburst which spawned a series of memes upon the release of The Dark Knight. McG still looks fondly at the film, but feels like he did his best all things considered.
“There’s a lot of things in this movie that people liked. And, technically, we got some things done,” he said. “You can’t get a better actor than Christian Bale. And Sam did what he had to do, and [we had] Helena Bonham Carter and Bryce Dallas Howard. We tried to stack the bridge. I tried, faithful Terminator, I tried.”