Terminator: Dark Fate Director Tim Miller Says He Would Not Work With James Cameron Again
"I just don’t want to be in a situation again where I don’t have the control to do what I think is right."
Terminator: Dark Fate has struggled at the box office despite some strong reviews, and has now been declared a flop. The film has made $248,801,323 internationally, well below the $440,603,537 earned by the previous entry in the series, Terminator Genisys, despite receiving much stronger critical acclaim. In the wake of the film's commercial failure, director Tim Miller (who previously directed the first Deadpool) has opened up about the film in an unusually candid interview with KCRW, explaining why he's still "very proud" of the movie despite its performance. He also discusses the struggles he had with James Cameron, who produced the film after directing The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Miller says that he's happy with the film he made. "They could always be better; you watch it and you see the things you wish you'd done, or the battles you wish you'd fought harder, but I'm proud of the movie, and I love the experience of making it," he says. He notes that it's hard to know in advance if a movie will do well or not sometimes, saying that the movie was tracking well right up until release.
Talking about the reviews the film received, he says that "the things that they seem to hate the most about the movie are things that I can't control," noting that the feelings critics have for previous films loomed large. He also says that he acknowledges that his film is not as good as the first two Terminator films, both directed by James Cameron. "I'm not here saying I'm better than Jim Cameron. Smart of me, right?" Miller says that he requested bringing Cameron back to the series because his blessing would mean a lot to fans, explaining that the two were already on good terms--Cameron was, in fact, involved in helping Miller get Deadpool made.
Miller says that Cameron and he share a lot of interests, but admits that he had a hard time taking his input, knowing that Cameron and other producer David Ellison would have final cut of the film. "There was always this assumption that we'd work through everything, if we disagree, we'd work it out," Miller says. Cameron did some script edits for the film, writing a few scenes that Miller describes as "great," and was in New Zealand working on the Avatar sequels during filming. Miller says that it was a tough shoot, with an ever-evolving script. He also admits that the interviewer is "probably right" when she says that it was an issue that none of the credited writers were women, despite the film having three female leads.
The edit, Miller says, is where he and Cameron clashed. "Me and Jim had a disagreement over the director's cut and how it happens. In his mind, the director's cut is the best version of everything you shot. In my mind, it's the best movie I can make from what I shot....so I did my director's cut, and the lights go up, and there was a lot of stuff I'd cut that Jim thought was important." He admits that the changes made might matter less to audiences they they do to him, though. "I feel like, if you saw the movie, and I told you the stuff that I was upset about, you'd go 'get over it,' or 'why is that so important'...I hate to lose any battle, but I never give up."
Asked for a specific example, Miller notes that he presented the idea of flipping the script and making it so that "the humans are losing, and that's why someone has to go back" in Dark Fate. Cameron reportedly asked "what's dramatic about the humans losing," and the two argued back and forth about it. This stands out as a big argument that Miller lost, he says, and that the protagonist, Dani, ultimately wasn't portrayed in a way he was happy with. "It's his franchise, so I have to bow down to him," he says of Cameron.
Asked if they were "still friends," Miller said that Cameron had recently asked him to catch up for a beer when he's next in LA. Asked if he would work with the acclaimed director again, Miller responded "no, but it has nothing to do with whatever trauma I have from the experience. I just don't want to be in a situation again where I don't have the control to do what I think is right." He admits that he feels "horrible" about the movie losing money, and that he feels so guilty that he "bought dinner" for Ellison, who is a billionaire, last time they caught up--but also that they're planning on working together again.
During the interview, Miller also touches on the fact that he did not direct Deadpool 2, which happened because it was clear that "Ryan Reynolds wanted to be in control of the franchise," which clashes with how he directs. "I don't mind having a debate, but if I can't win, I don't want to play."
Terminator: Dark Fate is still in cinemas.
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