Tim Miller is the credited director of “Terminator: Dark Fate,” but producer James Cameron had just as much creative involvement in shaping the movie’s final theatrical cut. Cameron directed “The Terminator” and “T2: Judgement Day,” which “Dark Fate” serves as a direct sequel to in the franchise. From the way Cameron talks about the film’s development, it appears he more or less took control of the movie in post-production. Cameron recently told CinemaBlend he saw Miller’s rough cut at the start of the year and “it was pretty rough, it was pretty long.” The movie transformed in the editing room as Cameron worked with Miller and producer David Ellison “to find the best film that could emerge from” the rough cut.
“It wasn’t a slam-dunk at the time,” Cameron said of the rough cut. “I felt there were a lot of pathways that were taken that were unnecessary. I’m an editor myself, so I gave notes that were both broad, and very specific. I continued in that process up to about two and a half months ago when we locked picture…I never went to the set. I’ve yet to physically meet the new cast because I never went to the set. But I was very involved in the writing and I was very involved in the cutting of the film. And to me, the cutting is really an extension of the writing.”
While Cameron said Miller was always involved in the editing process, the “Titanic” and “Avatar” director did not sugarcoat the process of reworking Miller’s rough cut. When asked by CinemaBlend if there were disagreements during the “Dark Fate” editing process, Cameron teased that at times it became a bloodbath.
“I would say many [disagreements],” Cameron said. “And the blood is still being scrubbed off the walls from those creative battles. This is a film that was forged in fire. So yeah, but that’s the creative process, right?”
Cameron had a similar role on “Dark Fate” as he did on Robert Rodriguez’s “Alita: Battle Angel,” which opened in theaters from 20th Century Fox earlier this year. Cameron was a producer who was heavily involved in the script and editing, but he said that his collaboration with Rodriguez was far smoother than Miller.
“My work with Robert on Alita was very different,” Cameron said. “Robert loved the script, loved everything, said, ‘I just want to make this movie. I want to make the movie the way you see it.’ I was like, ‘No, you got to make it your movie.’ I had the reverse experience with Tim, which is Tim wanted to make it his movie. And I’m like, ‘Yeah, but I kind of know a little about this world.’ So I had the matter and the anti-matter version of that producurial [sic] experience.”
Whatever tension that went into getting “Terminator: Dark Fate” ready to release somewhat paid off, as the movie has received the best reviews for a “Terminator” film since Cameron’s “T2.” IndieWire has reached out to Paramount and Cameron’s representatives for further comment. The movie is opening in theaters nationwide November 1.