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McG Interview on Terminator 5

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US, August 7, 2009 - Terminator Salvation director McG spoke to the press after this week's Human Target panel at the TCAs about the lackluster domestic box office performance of Salvation and what to expect from Terminator 5. He also name-dropped who he wants to play the title role in his next project, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo.

Q: Any update on the status of the next Terminator film?

McG: Yeah, we're working on it right now. We're very far down the line with the story for that – for the next picture, and even the picture after that, and feeling good and we'll see where that takes us. I'm prepping 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea right now and I'm looking at Spring Awakening, but also the notion of the next Terminator – I mean, we're making it. Warners is excited about it. Sony is excited about it. And we can't wait to get back at it and show the world what becomes of that war and how we master time travel because we stayed away from time travel in Salvation and I missed it. We decided it was the right thing to do and we did a lot of things right in that movie and we did many things wrong in that movie. And we'll learn from the experience and we'll grow and I think the next movie is going to be even more exciting and a better film.

Q: What did you learn, where did you succeed and where did you not with Salvation?

McG: I think the film missed some of the fun that Jim [Cameron] brought to the early pictures. I'm a disciple of Jim. [Expletive], yesterday I was down in Baja at the tanks he built for Titanic scouting 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. We'll bring a little bit more relief in that [fun] capacity. Not to the degree that you saw in the third picture, but a little bit more than ours. We wanted to be very, very nose to the grindstone and really establish credibility and it worked in many ways and it was unsuccessful in other ways, because it wasn't a unanimous world of "[Expletive] yeah, we love Terminator Salvation." There were plenty of people who kicked us in the ass over it. But the film will end up doing about $400 million bucks and internationally it was very well received – better than it was here in the States. But we live in a domestic intensive, Hollywood film world and I take it very personally. I take it very seriously. And clearly I didn't do a good enough job on that picture and I didn't satisfy the fanbase to the degree that I would expect to satisfy them. And I take that very seriously and I just work that much more diligently to make sure I do that in the next one.

Q: Do you think the TV show perhaps lessened the impact of having a new Terminator movie?

McG: That's one of those things that we realized looking over our shoulder. I believe that we can put enough separation into our film construct where the television show would be the television show and the film will be the film. But one could also argue that cannibalized Superman to some degree – with Smallville doing its thing. It's always witchcraft. It's guess work. It's dangerous. It was very difficult to follow in the footsteps of my hero, Jim Cameron. I did the best I could and I learned a great deal, and I'm certain that I'm a better storyteller now, having had that experience. And I think the next film is going to be very pleasing and very surprising to the fans. That's the goal.

Q: What can you say about the storyline for the next Terminator film?

McG: One of the problems is that in a post-apocalyptic world, everybody's a little bummed out because your brother melted... your friends are gone. Everything went haywire. So the idea is to play with one of the tried and true rules of the franchise – time travel – and introduce it in this picture. I don't want to share too much, but let's just say it's very, very likely that John Connor is going to end up running through rooms like this where he knows something that none of us know. And I think that is a platform for great storytelling. Because I always love it when [Kyle] Reese is in our world, as you saw in the first picture, and everybody thinks he's out of his [expletive] mind and he knows and he can't afford to be concerned. And he's got to convince someone he cares about to come with him! And that's one of the engines. And we'll have a much more clearly defined antagonist in the new picture. It will be more of a chase movie with a new Terminator that is on your ass.

Q: Two of the criticisms Salvation faced was that there wasn't enough of a central, physical antagonist and that while Marcus had a nice story arc, John didn't have a strong enough storyline.

McG: We want to put more meat on the bone because we have the great Christian Bale, but I take a lot of satisfaction in playing a role in breaking the great Sam Worthington, who I think is one of the best actors out there. Look out for Clash of the Titans because Clash is going to be really good – I've seen some of that. Now he's doing The Tourist with Charlize [Theron]. He's all over the place, and I might cast him as Nemo if it's in the cards. We'll see.

I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

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