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James Cameron dishes on edit room 'creative battles' over Terminator: Dark Fate

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Oct 31, 2019

If you ask James Cameron, Sarah Connor's latest adventure in Terminator: Dark Fate was "forged in fire."

On the eve of the movie's debut, the famed director opened up about the merging of visions that produced the latest entry in the three-decade-old franchise — and the first to feature Cameron's direct participation, at least in the dual roles of producer and co-writer, since he helmed 1991's blockbuster T2: Judgment Day.

Speaking candidly to Cinema Blend about his role on the film, Cameron confessed he never actually set foot on set, leaving the reins to director Tim Miller so he could continue working on his long-awaited Avatar sequels. Still, he was constantly sending the production updated scenes that he had written at the last minute.

"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," Cameron said. "And to me, the cutting is really an extension of the writing."

The Oscar winner confessed that post-production wasn't exactly smooth sailing, saying there were real disagreements in the edit room involving him, producer David Ellison, and Miller.

"Well, I think I saw a rough cut, maybe right after the first of the year. It was pretty rough. It was pretty long. It transformed quite a bit after that," Cameron noted. "I think David Ellison and I and Tim worked together to try to find the best film that could emerge from that."

The Titanic filmmaker offered up his particular vision, of course, and how it might impact the film's tone.

"It wasn't a slam-dunk at the time. I felt there were a lot of pathways that were taken that were unnecessary," he said. "I'm an editor myself, so I gave notes that were both broad, and very specific."

When SYFY WIRE caught up with Miller this past weekend at the film's junket, the director touched on his partnership with Cameron, telling us that they had a "healthy exchange of ideas" during the script development process but they didn't agree on everything.

"I love his movies, which means I like the way he thinks as a director, which means there's gonna be more synchronicity than not on ideas," the Deadpool maestro said. "But maybe the biggest areas where we, I guess — clashed is not the right word — would disagree is I feel like he answered all of these questions ... a certain way and he did his due diligence and thought them through. And they were the right answers for those movies. It doesn't always mean that it's the right answer for new movies."

Of course, such disagreements are par for the course, as the filmmakers utilized every weapon in their arsenal to craft the best Terminator film since T2 that they could make. The goal? Erasing the bad taste left by three less-than-stellar sequels whose timeline Dark Fate readily ignores for a more back-to-basics approach that reunites stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton and introduces a new Terminator baddie, the Rev-9, played by Gabriel Luna.

"The blood is still being scrubbed off the walls from those creative battles," Cameron acknowledged. "This is a film that was forged in fire. So yeah, but that's the creative process, right?"

Based on the reviews, Terminator: Dark Fate is a return to form for the iconic franchise.

All that's left is for moviegoers to weigh in with their judgment at the multiplex. Is Terminator indeed back? Or will Cameron and company's efforts be for naught and it's hasta la vista, baby?

Fans can decide for themselves — Terminator: Dark Fate hits theaters today. 

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