Despite it being a point of infamy for the franchise, James Cameron is speaking in defense of Terminator 2: Judgment Day‘s trailer spoiling the good Terminator reveal. The second installment in Cameron’s sci-fi series picked up 11 years after its predecessor as a reprogrammed version of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 is sent to 1995 to protect a teenage John Connor from the liquid metal-based T-1000 sent by Skynet to kill him. Scoring widespread critical and commercial success, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is considered one of Cameron’s best films, though one point has stuck out with viewers in the decades since.
In a recent Empire Q&A featuring questions from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power showrunner Patrick McKay, James Cameron addressed the infamous Terminator 2: Judgment Day trailer spoiling the film’s good Terminator reveal. Cameron explained that this was not a battle he lost with the studio, as he “led the charge on marketing,” but rather stemmed from him looking to put the best story element forward to sell the movie. See Cameron’s defense below:
All of us have had our battles with the Suits, but the case you mention was not a battle. The Carolco guys, Mario Kassar and Andy Vajna, were good partners with me on T2, and I led the charge on marketing, including showing Arnold as the good guy. It wasn’t a Sixth Sense kind of twist that’s revealed only at the end of the film. He’s revealed as the Protector at the end of Act One. And I always feel you lead with your strongest story element in selling a movie.
The Terminator Franchise’s History Of Spoiler Marketing
Given the original film saw Schwarzenegger’s cyborg as a villain attempting to kill Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, his turn towards a protector in Terminator 2: Judgment Day was seen as a groundbreaking change for the formula. However, while it came as a welcome surprise to those who missed the film’s marketing, the trailers for the Terminator sequel ultimately gave away this plot point, revealing the scene in which Schwarzenegger’s T-800 arrives in an employee hallway of the Galleria mall just in time to save Edward Furlong’s John Connor from Robert Patrick’s T-1000. However, this would not be the first time in the franchise a major plot point found itself spoiled by the Terminator marketing team.
One of the first trailers for 2009’s future-set Terminator Salvation featured the reveal that Sam Worthington’s Marcus was a person who believed himself to be human, only to be mortified to learn he is a Skynet machine. The film itself not only opened with Marcus being on death row before Judgment Day, but also follows him as its protagonist for most of the plot, with the reveal not coming until roughly the halfway point of the movie. Even the subsequent franchise retooling, Terminator Genisys, took to spoiling its major plot twist from the film’s halfway point in which John Connor has been transformed into an advanced cyborg, the T-3000.
Following these various slip-ups, the most recent installment in the franchise, Terminator: Dark Fate, surprisingly took to keeping its big reveal of killing John Connor off in the opening moments out of its marketing. The plot twist still made its way out to the world thanks to spoilers leaked online which, when paired with a general fatigue for the franchise, led to the film’s downfall at the box office and subsequent franchise hiatus. With Cameron recently teasing new ideas for yet another potential franchise retool, one can hope its marketing doesn’t repeat the sins of Terminator 2: Judgment Day‘s past.
More: The Perfect Release Date For The Next Terminator MovieSource: Empire