Terminator Salvation is the fourth installment of the action-sci-fi franchise, and one of the less 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 was not reviewed kindly and caused the franchise to be rebooted with Terminator Genysis in 2015.
Director McG talking to The Hollywood Reporter about a career introspect revealed that there was an ending that existed that he thinks fans would actually enjoy.
“We got so close to nailing that thing right,” he said. “We brought in Jonah Nolan. We had Christian Bale. And we tried to honor the Terminator faithful and James Cameron himself. I got a lot right in that movie but didn’t quite stick the landing.”
In Salvation, John was saved with a heart transplant from Marcus after he sacrificed himself to save John and his friends from a T-800 attack, that featured a CGI Arnold Schwartzenegger. That ending didn’t exactly go over how he and writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris had envisioned and originally had shot a different ending.
“We were testing it in secret, on the Warner Bros. lot. I purposely brought in some Terminator faithful, some people who were in chatgroups, and they had pushback,” McG continued. “Me and [former Warners film exec Jeff] Robinov looked at each other like, ‘F—‘. And I really thought we had the tiger by the tail up to that point. And it’s not that the movie tanked. It just didn’t do as great as we wanted it to. And it wasn’t as fondly considered as we wanted it to be at the time. I would have stuck with the dark ending that we photographed that got cut.”
Terminator Salvation eventually had a worldwide gross of $371 million against a $200 million budget and was almost overshadowed by Bale’s leaked outburst which spawned a string of memes during The Dark Knight’s release. McG still looks back on the film fondly but feels like he did his best all things considering.
“There’s a lot about that film that people enjoyed. And, technically, we pushed some things forward,” he said. “You can’t have a better actor than Christian Bale. And Sam did what he needed to do, and [we had] Helena Bonham Carter, and Bryce Dallas Howard. We tried to stack the deck. I tried, Terminator faithful, I tried.”