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Terminator Salvation
A skeleton-like machine with bright red eyes holding a gun in the background, while two men in battle fatigues, one of them holding a rifle, stand in the foreground. Below them are the credits, tagline and title.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by McG
Produced by Derek Anderson
Victor Kubicek

Jeffrey Silver
Moritz Borman
Written by Screenplay:
John Brancato
Michael Ferris

James Cameron
Gale Anne Hurd
Starring Christian Bale
Sam Worthington
Anton Yelchin
Moon Bloodgood
Bryce Dallas Howard
Jadagrace Berry
Michael Ironside
Helena Bonham Carter
Music by Danny Elfman
Brad Fiedel
Cinematography Shane Hurlbut
Editing by Conrad Buff
Studio The Halcyon Company
Wonderland Sound and Vision
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s) May 21, 2009
Running time Theatrical Cut:
115 minutes
Director's Cut:
118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $200 million[1]
Gross revenue $372,046,055[2]
Preceded by Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Terminator Salvation is a 2009 American science fiction action film directed by McG and starring Christian Bale and Sam Worthington. The fourth installment in the Terminator series, the film is set in 2018 and focuses on the war between Skynet and humanity, with the human Resistance fighting against Skynet's killing machines. This is a departure from the previous installments, which were set between 1984 and 2004 and used time travel as a key plot element. Bale portrays John Connor, a Resistance fighter and the franchises' central character, while Worthington portrays cyborg Marcus Wright. Terminator Salvation also features Anton Yelchin as a young Kyle Reese, a character first introduced in The Terminator, and depicts the origin of the T-800 Model 101 Terminator.

After a troubled pre-production, with The Halcyon Company acquiring the rights for the franchise from Andrew G. Vajna and Mario Kassar and several writers working on the screenplay, filming began in May 2008 in New Mexico and ran for 77 days. The film is currently the most expensive independent production in history, with a budget of $200 million. Terminator Salvation was released on May 21, 2009 in the United States and Canada, followed by early June releases in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The film was met with mixed critical reception[3] and failed to meet initial financial expectations. However, its final worldwide gross of $372 million ranked it 16th in terms of grosses in 2009.[4]



In 2003, Doctor Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter) of Cyberdyne Systems convinces death row inmate Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) to sign his body over for medical research following his execution by lethal injection. One year later, the Skynet system is activated, perceives humans as a threat to its own existence, and eradicates much of humanity in the event known as "Judgment Day" (see Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines). In 2018, John Connor (Christian Bale) leads an attack by the Resistance on a Skynet base. John discovers human prisoners and plans for the development of a new type of Terminator incorporating living tissue, but he is the only apparent survivor of the attack after the base is destroyed in a nuclear explosion. However, Marcus emerges from the wreckage of the base and proceeds on foot to Los Angeles.

John returns to Resistance headquarters located aboard a nuclear submarine and tells General Ashdown (Michael Ironside), the current leader, of his discovery. Meanwhile, the Resistance has discovered a radio frequency believed to be capable of shutting down Skynet machines. They plan to launch an offensive against the Skynet base in San Francisco in four days, in response to an intercepted "kill list" indicating that Skynet plans to kill the Resistance's command staff in a week's time. John learns that his own name is second on the list, following a civilian named Kyle Reese. The Resistance leaders are unaware of Kyle's importance to Skynet, but John knows that it is because Kyle will later become his father (see The Terminator). John meets with his wife Kate (Bryce Dallas Howard) and his officer Barnes (Common), and transmits a radio broadcast to Resistance members and surviving civilians around the world.

Arriving in the ruins of Los Angeles, Marcus is saved from a T-600 Terminator by Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) and his mute companion Star (Jadagrace Berry). Kyle relates to Marcus the events of Judgment Day and the ensuing war between humans and machines. Hearing John's radio broadcast, the three leave Los Angeles in search of the Resistance. They survive an attack by machines, but Kyle, Star, and several other humans are taken prisoner, while a pair of Resistance A-10 planes are shot down. Marcus locates downed Resistance pilot Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood) and they make their way to John's base, but Marcus is wounded by a magnetic land mine. Attempting to save his life, the Resistance fighters discover that he is in fact a cyborg with human organs, a mechanical endoskeleton, circuitry, and a partially artificial cerebral cortex. Marcus believes himself to be human, demanding to be released so that he can save Kyle from Skynet, but John believes that Marcus has come to kill him and orders his destruction. However, Blair releases Marcus and helps him to escape from the base. During the resulting pursuit Marcus saves John's life from Skynet hydrobots, and the two form an alliance: Marcus will enter Skynet's headquarters and attempt to disable its defenses so that John can rescue Kyle.

John demands that Ashdown delay the attack so that he can rescue Kyle and the other prisoners, but Ashdown refuses and relieves John of his command. However, John's soldiers remain loyal to him and obey his command not to attack the Skynet base. Marcus enters the base and interfaces with the computer, disabling the perimeter defenses and allowing John to infiltrate the cell block and release the human prisoners. The radio signal that the Resistance's plan hinges on is revealed to be a ruse on the part of Skynet, which uses the signal to track down and destroy the command submarine with the Resistance leaders aboard.

Marcus discovers that he was created by Skynet and has unwittingly fulfilled his programmed mission to lure John into the base to be killed. He tears out the hardware linking him to Skynet and assists John in battling a T-800 model 101 Terminator. John is mortally wounded during the fight, but succeeds in destroying the Skynet base by rigging several Terminator hydrogen fuel cells to an explosive, detonating them as he, Marcus, Kyle, and Star are airlifted out. Kate attempts to save John's life, but his heart is too damaged. Marcus offers his own heart for transplant, sacrificing himself to save John. Recovering, John radios to the other Resistance fighters that though this battle has been won, the war is far from over.


  • Christian Bale as John Connor: A soldier in the Resistance waging war against Skynet after it destroyed much of humanity in a nuclear holocaust, who is destined to become humanity's leader. Director McG deemed Bale "the most credible action star in the world" during development.[5] McG wanted Bale for Marcus, but the actor — even though he "can't really remember why" — wanted to play John, and that led to the character's role getting expanded in rewrites of the script.[6][7] Bale was the first person to be cast and signed on for the role in November 2007. McG talked extensively with Bale in the UK about the role while the latter was filming The Dark Knight, and they both agreed to proceed.[8] Although a fan of the Terminator series, he was at first uninterested, until McG convinced him the story would be character-based and not rely on special effects.[5] They kept working on the story every day, along with Worthington.[9] McG said Bale broke his hand punching a Terminator prop during filming.[10] Bale also spent six to eight hours each day with McG in the editing room to advise the finished product.[11]
  • Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright: A mysterious man on death row for murder who donated his body to Cyberdyne Systems for experimentation.[12] His last memory is of his lethal injection on death row, and John is at first unsure of whether Wright is trustworthy.[13] Worthington compared Marcus to Dorothy Gale and Alice due to being "this person waking up in another world and [then] tries to find himself".[14] Terminator creator James Cameron personally recommended Worthington (whom he directed in Avatar) to McG.[6][15] Russell Crowe also recommended him to McG. The director decided Worthington looked tougher than the "great many of today's [waify] young male actors".[12] Worthington recalled Cameron told him "the Terminator to make is the one with the war".[16] Worthington tore his intercostal muscles during the first weeks of filming, but he nevertheless insisted on performing his own stunts.[12][17] McG once expressed interest in casting Christian Bale, Daniel Day-Lewis or Josh Brolin in the part.[18][19] Brolin did talk to Bale and read a draft of the screenplay, which he found "interesting and dark, [but] ultimately, though, I didn't think it felt right".[20]
  • Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese: A teenage refugee and admirer of John Connor and the Resistance. As portrayed by Michael Biehn in The Terminator, he was sent back in time to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor to ensure the survival of the human race, and fathered John with her. Yelchin said he wanted to portray Kyle as Biehn did and not make him appear weaker because it was a younger version of the character. The difference in his portrayal lies in showing Kyle as intense, but not concentrated until he joins the resistance proper. Yelchin tried to convey Kyle's intensity by focusing on how fast Biehn appeared when running in the original film.[21]
  • Bryce Dallas Howard as Kate Connor: John's wife, who is seven months pregnant. Charlotte Gainsbourg was originally set to play the part, but left due to scheduling conflicts with another film.[22] As portrayed by Claire Danes in the third film, Kate was a veterinarian; but in this film, she is now a physician. Howard suggested, as part of the character's backstory, that Kate studied medical books and interviewed many surviving doctors after the events of Judgment Day. The film's subject matter reminded her of developing countries, devastated by war and lacking basic supplies such as clean water, which "reflects things that are going on currently in this privileged world that we are living in where there hasn't been an apocalypse and robots haven't taken over the world. I think that's something definitely for us to reinvestigate and that we continue to make choices for our own future to take that into consideration".[23] Howard also focused on Kate "being accustomed to fear and loss" because the character was a military brat.[24]
  • Moon Bloodgood as Blair Williams: Suffering from survivor's guilt, Blair is a "no-nonsense and battle-hardened" pilot of the Resistance and the romantic interest for Marcus as well.[25][26] McG characterizes her as continuing the feminine strength that has been prominent throughout the franchise.[27]
  • Common as Barnes: A resistance soldier and John's right-hand man.[28][29]
  • Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Serena Kogan: Before Judgment Day, Serena was an ex-Cyberdyne scientist with terminal cancer working on advanced technology, convincing Marcus to donate his body to Project Angel for her "research", which will fall into the hands of Skynet.[30] Her face was later used by the Skynet computer in order to communicate with Marcus. Tilda Swinton was originally considered for the part, but Bonham Carter replaced her before filming. She accepted the part because her partner, Tim Burton, is a Terminator fan. Her role was a "small but pivotal" one and would only require ten days of shooting.[31] On July 20, 2008, Bonham Carter delayed filming by a day,[32] and was given an indefinite leave due to the death of four of her family members in a minibus accident in South Africa.[33]
  • Roland Kickinger as the T-800 Model 101: The first Terminator covered in living human tissue built as Skynet's newest weapon for the extermination of humankind. Arnold Schwarzenegger's facial likeness was utilized via CGI, with a mold of his face made in 1984 scanned to create the digital makeup.[34] Fellow Austrian bodybuilder and actor Kickinger, who previously portrayed Schwarzenegger in the 2005 biographical film See Arnold Run, was his physical double on set. When asked about his role, Kickinger said it's "Arnold's character in the first Terminator. That's basically my role, but 20 years before, so it establishes how the Terminator came about."[35] Polish strongman athlete Mariusz Pudzianowski was also considered for doubling Schwarzenegger.[36] If Schwarzenegger had decided not to lend his appearance to the film, then John would have shot the T-800's face off before the audience got a good look at him.[37]
  • Jadagrace Berry as Star: A nine-year-old girl in Kyle's care.[24] Born after Judgment Day, Star is mute due to the trauma of the post-apocalyptic world. However, this has given her the unnatural ability to sense when a Skynet machine is approaching.[27]
  • Michael Ironside as General Ashdown: As a former commander from the United States Armed Forces, Ashdown serves as the leader of the Resistance, who views John Connor as a nuisance yet also sees him as an asset because of his extensive knowledge of the Skynet machines.
  • Linda Hamilton as the uncredited voice of Sarah Connor: Hamilton is heard from tapes Sarah recorded before her death prior to the film's events to warn John of the future war.[38]



In 1999, two years after C2 Pictures purchased the rights to the franchise, two Terminator films' premises were mapped out and were supposed to be developed simultaneously. Tedi Sarafian was hired to write Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which he eventually received shared story credit for, while David C. Wilson was to write Terminator 4. Before any revisions were done, T3 initially took place in 2001 and revolved around the first attacks between Skynet and humans. T4 would follow immediately afterwards and centered primarily on the war seen in the first two movies.[39] Warner Bros. gave the film the codename "Project Angel".

Following the release of Terminator 3 in 2003, producers Andrew G. Vajna and Mario Kassar contracted Nick Stahl and Claire Danes to return as John Connor and Kate Brewster in another film.[40] Director Jonathan Mostow helped develop the script, written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris, and was set to begin production in 2005 after completing another film. It was known by then Arnold Schwarzenegger's role would be limited, as he had assumed office as Governor of California. The producers sought to have Warner Bros. finance the picture as they did for Terminator 3.[41] In 2005, Stahl said John and Kate would be recast as the story jumped forward in time.[42] By 2006, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, distributor of the original film, was set to distribute the fourth film as part of the new CEO Harry Sloan's scheme to make the studio a viable Hollywood player.[43]

On May 9, 2007, it was announced that production rights to the Terminator series had passed from the feuding Vajna and Kassar to the Halcyon Company. The producers hoped to start a new trilogy based on the franchise.[44] The purchase was financed with a loan by Pacificor, a hedge fund from Santa Monica.[45] By July 19, the project was in legal limbo due to a lawsuit between MGM and Halcyon subsidiary T Asset. MGM had an exclusive window of 30 days to negotiate for distribution of the Terminator films. When negotiating for Terminator 4, Halcyon rejected their initial proposal, and MGM suspended negotiations. After the 30 days were over, MGM claimed that the period during which negotiations were suspended did not count and their exclusive period was still open. Halcyon asked a court for an injunction allowing them to approach other distributors.[46] Later, the lawsuit was settled and MGM got a 30-day right of first refusal to finance and distribute the fifth Terminator film.[47]

Finally, Warner Bros. paid $60 million to acquire the United States distribution rights of Terminator Salvation; Sony Pictures also paid just over $100 million to acquire this film's distribution rights in most international territories.[48]


McG signed on to direct as the first two films were among his favorites, and he had even cast Robert Patrick (who played the T-1000) in his films.[49] Though he was initially unsure about "flogging a dead horse,"[5] he felt the post-apocalyptic setting allowed the film to be different enough so as not to be just an inferior sequel. The idea that events in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines altered the future also allowed them to be flexible with their presentation of the futuristic world.[50] McG met with the series' co-creator James Cameron, and, although he neither blessed nor cursed the project, Cameron told the new director he had faced a similar challenge when following Ridley Scott's Alien with Aliens.[5] He maintained two elements of the previous films; that John is an outsider to the authorities, and someone of future importance is being protected, and in this film it is Kyle Reese.[51]

The first full screenplay for the film was written by Terminator 3 writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris, who received full screenplay credit. Paul Haggis rewrote Brancato and Ferris's script,[52] and Shawn Ryan made another revision three weeks before filming.[53] Jonathan Nolan also wrote on set, which led to McG characterizing his work on the script as the most important;[50] he chose to contribute to the film after Bale signed on and created Connor's arc of becoming a leader.[54] Anthony E. Zuiker contributed to the script as well.[55] So extensive were the rewrites that Alan Dean Foster decided to rewrite the entire novelization after submitting it to his publisher, because the compiled shooting script was very different from the one he was given beforehand.[56]

"You survived the nuclear holocaust and you crawl out of the hole after three-to-five years and say, 'Well, I know what's going on — I'm the one!' Some SAS guy isn't going to say, 'Where do I go, boss?' He'd say, 'Shut the fuck up and get in line.'"
 — McG on John's struggles to become the leader.[57]

In the early script drafts, John was a secondary character. Producer James Middleton explained "Ben-Hur was influenced by Jesus Christ, but it was his story. Much in that way, this [new main] character will be influenced by John Connor."[58] The original ending was to have John killed, and his image kept alive by the resistance by grafting his skin onto Marcus' cybernetic body.[59][60] However, after the ending was leaked on the Internet, Warner Bros. decided to completely change the entire third act of the film.[61] McG and Nolan did continue the Christ element of John's character though, in which he has some followers who believe what he knows about Skynet, and others who do not.[62]

McG described the film's theme as "where you draw the line between machines and humans".[5] The friendship between Marcus — who was executed (for murder) when humanity still ruled the world — and Kyle Reese illustrates how war and suffering can bring out the best in people, such as when they worked together to survive during the Blitz.[57] The title was derived from this second chance given to humanity and to Marcus, in addition to John's efforts to save humanity from the machines.[63] The film's original title was Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, but this was dropped during filming.[57]

Throughout writing, the cast and crew would watch scenes from the three films to pick moments to reference or tribute, including "I'll be back", which is uttered by John in this film. McG found himself having to decide which ideas for references would be included and which would not.[64] An opening scene has John fighting a Terminator on a crashed helicopter, which was storyboarded as a homage to the climax of the original film, where his mother Sarah, having broken her leg, is chased by a crippled Terminator. McG did this to reflect the skills John learned from her.[12]


Capt. Jennie Schoeck and actress Moon Bloodgood (right) in front of an A-10 Thunderbolt II during the production of "Terminator Salvation" at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

Terminator Salvation had a $200 million budget, making it the most expensive independent production in history.[1] Shooting of the film started on May 5, 2008 in New Mexico.[65] Filming also took place at Kirtland Air Force Base in the state,[66] after the United States Air Force agreed to provide the crew guidance and aircraft.[67] The filmmakers had originally intended to begin filming on April 15 in Budapest,[68] but a twenty-five percent tax rebate and absence of an interest rate cap and floor made the filmmakers seek the cheaper New Mexico, because of their elevated budget.[69] To avoid delays caused by a possible 2008 Screen Actors Guild strike in July, all exterior scenes were completed by then, so production could restart easily.[70][71] The shoot ended on July 20, 2008,[32] though some pick-ups took place in January 2009.[72]

In addition to Bale breaking his hand and Worthington hurting his back, special effects technician Mike Menardis almost lost his leg filming an explosion. The sequence required a manhole cover being blown into the air, which hit Menardis and partially severed his leg. McG noted it was testament to the gritty style of the film. "I say with respect, I didn't want that Star Wars experience of everything's a blue screen, tennis balls, and go for it. I had Stan Winston build all the machines. We built all the sets, the explosive power, the explosive power so you feel that wind and that percussion and that heat blowing your eyebrows off. And with that you get a couple bumps and bruises on the way, but you get it in an integrity and a realism that hopefully echoes Apocalypse Now. You couldn't say, 'Let's just shoot Apocalypse Now in Burbank, I think it's going to feel just as good.'"[63]

The film used Technicolor's Oz process during post-production. This is a partial silver retention on the interpositive, similar to bleach bypass, which will be used to lend to the sense of detachment from the modern world McG was looking for.[9] Industrial Light & Magic developed shader programs to make the desaturated lighting of the CGI realistic and well-integrated to the on-set footage.[73] The filmmakers consulted with many scientists about the effects of an abandoned world and nuclear winter.[49] McG cited Mad Max 2, the original Star Wars trilogy and Children of Men, as well as the novel The Road, as his visual influences.[5][49] He instructed his cast to read the latter as well as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?[32][50] Like Children of Men, McG would storyboard scenes so that it would be edited together to resemble a seamless, continuous shot.[74] It took two weeks to film a two-minute shot of Connor getting caught up in a bombing on the Skynet base where he discovers plans for the T-800.[75]

Design and special effects

McG sought to create as many "in-camera" elements as possible to make the film more realistic.[76] Many of the settings were hand-built, including an entire gas station for the Harvester attack scenes. The Terminator factory was built on an abandoned factory,[67] and the design crew consulted robot manufacturer companies for a more realistic depiction.[76] A 20 foot-tall model built and detonated by Kerner Optical was used for the explosion of Skynet's 30-story San Francisco-based lab.[57]

The majority of the machines were designed by Martin Laing, a crew member on Cameron's Titanic and Ghosts of the Abyss.[77] McG described many of the machines as having an H. R. Giger influence.[49] McG's intent was to create a gritty, tactile 2018 on screen, and Laing concurred the robots would have to be black and degraded as none of them are new. Laing devised Aerostats, which are smaller versions of the Aerial Hunter Killers from the previous films. The Aerostats send a signal to the 60-foot-tall humanoid Harvesters. They are very big and slow, so they use Mototerminators to capture humans, and the Harvesters place them in Transporters. Laing was unsure of how to design the Transporters until he saw a cattle transport while driving through Albuquerque. The film also features the first aquatic Skynet robot, the Hydrobot, which Laing modeled on eels,[57] and was built by the animatronics crew with its exterior made of metal-looking rubber so it could be used in the aquatic scenes.[67] The film features rubber-skinned T-600 and T-700 robots. McG interpreted Kyle Reese's description in the original film of the T-600 as being easy to spot by making them tall and bulky.[5] For scenes of humans fighting with Terminators, the actors interacted with stuntmen wearing motion capture suits, later replaced by digital robots.[76] For the Mototerminators, Ducati designers were hired to create the robots, and the on-screen robot was a combination of stuntmen driving actual Ducatis and a Mototerminator mock-up, as well as a digital Mototerminator.[78] Visual effects studio Imaginary Forces created the Terminator point-of-view sequences, and tried to depict a simple interface, "free of the frills - anything that a machine would not purely need", and with more software bugs and anomalies since the robots of Salvation were not as advanced as the Terminators from the previous movies.[79]

The majority of the special effects were done by Industrial Light & Magic. Salvation was one of the last films that Stan Winston, the visual effects supervisor on the first three films, worked on. He died on June 15, 2008 from multiple myeloma,[80] and McG dedicated the film to him in the end credits.[11] John Rosengrant and Charlie Gibson replaced Winston,[77] and McG commented that they are "trying to achieve something that's never been done before"[81] and "push the envelope".[82] Asylum Visual Effects created digital plates, Marcus' endoskeleton and a digital T-600; and Rising Sun Pictures did the digital correction of day for night scenes, the destruction of the submarine and Marcus' robot hand.[83]


Terminator Salvation
Film score by Danny Elfman
Released May 19, 2009
Label Reprise
Professional reviews
Danny Elfman chronology
Terminator Salvation

Danny Elfman began composing the score in January 2009. Beforehand, McG wanted to hire Gustavo Santaolalla to work on the music for the human characters, while having either Thom Yorke or Jonny Greenwood for Skynet's themes.[38][54] He also wanted to discuss scoring the film with Hans Zimmer but he was unable to arrange a meeting. McG met with The Terminator and Terminator 2 composer Brad Fiedel, but was not interested in repeating the sounds Fiedel achieved in his films. However, McG wanted Elfman to give those themes and ambient sounds a "Wagnerian quality".[51]

Reprise Records released the soundtrack on May 19, 2009, which included fifteen tracks. While Common had expressed interest in writing a song for the soundtrack,[85] Alice in Chains' "Rooster" is the only featured song.[86] Although not included in the soundtrack, "You Could Be Mine" by Guns N' Roses, which was featured in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, can be heard briefly in a scene of the film as well.[87] Nine Inch Nails' "The Day The World Went Away" is played on the film's theatrical trailer, but is not included in the film or soundtrack.


  1. "Opening" – 6:01
  2. "All Is Lost" – 2:45
  3. "Broadcast" – 3:19
  4. "The Harvester Returns" – 2:45
  5. "Fireside" – 1:31
  6. "No Plan" – 1:43
  7. "Reveal / The Escape" – 7:44
  8. "Hydrobot Attack" – 1:49
  9. "Farewell" – 1:40
  10. "Marcus Enters Skynet" – 3:23
  11. "A Solution" – 1:44
  12. "Serena" – 2:28
  13. "Final Confrontation" – 4:14
  14. "Salvation" – 3:07
  15. "Rooster" (Alice in Chains) – 6:14


During filming, Bale became angry at director of photography Shane Hurlbut, swearing at him and threatening to leave the film.[88][89] Bale apologized publicly and said he resolved his differences with Hurlbut, and that when the incident took place they continued to film for a few hours.[90]

In March 2009, producer Moritz Borman filed a lawsuit against the Halcyon Company, seeking $160 million. Borman, who had arranged the transfer of the Terminator rights to Halcyon in May 2007, stated the company's two managers Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek had "hijacked" the production and refused to give him his $2.5 million share of the production. Borman alleged budget overruns were the reasons Anderson and Kubicek did not pay him and that they had $1 million in debt.[91] Nevertheless, an "amicable" resolution was reached a month later.[92]

Further complications occurred on May 20, 2009, when executive producer Peter D. Graves, who informed Anderson and Kubicek about the Terminator rights, filed a breach-of-contract claim for arbitration, alleging that they owe him $750,000.[48]


The film was released in North America on May 21, 2009 with Warner Bros. setting the American premiere on May 14, 2009 at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.[93] Elsewhere, Sony Pictures Entertainment released the film in most overseas territories on different dates in June. One exception was Mexico, however, because of the swine flu outbreak in the country, which forced Sony to push the release date to July 31, 2009.[94]

It is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action, and language," unlike the previous R-rated films.[95] The decision to release the film with a PG-13 rating has met with much criticism from fans,[96] as well as the media.[97] The rating decision was made after McG cut out a shot of Marcus stabbing a thug with a screwdriver, as the director disallowing the young audience due to that one shot was unfair. He also deleted a topless scene for Moon Bloodgood because, "It was a soft moment between a man and a woman that was designed to echo the Kelly McGillis/Harrison Ford moment in Witness [but] in the end, it felt more like a gratuitous moment of a girl taking her top off in an action picture, and I didn't want that to convolute the story or the characters."[98] The producers had expected the rating because of the modern leniency towards violence in PG-13 films, such as the 2007 action film, Live Free or Die Hard.[52]

Critical reception

Based on 246 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, critical reaction for Terminator Salvation tended toward negativity with an overall 31 percent approval rating.[99] Among Rotten Tomatoes' Top Critics, which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television and radio programs,[100] the film holds an overall approval rating of 30 percent.[101] By comparison, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 52, based on 35 reviews.[3] At all three websites, the film ranked lowest among the Terminator franchise films.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, saying that "After scrutinizing the film, I offer you my summary of the story: Guy dies, finds himself resurrected, meets others, fights. That lasts for almost two hours."[102] Michael Rechtshaffen of the Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film isn't the same without Arnold Schwarzenegger and that it misses its dramatic element.[103] Likewise, Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film a 2/4 and called it "predictable" with the "dramatic elements flat-lin[ing]." She noted that Christian Bale's performance was "one-dimensional," but Sam Worthington's and Anton Yelchin's were better.[104]

Total Film's review gave the movie 4/5 with its verdict: "The Terminator story recharges with a post-apocalyptic jolt of energy. Frantic and full of welcome ties to the past, it also ploughs new ground with purpose. Fingers crossed McG will follow Cameron’s lead and serve up a worthy sequel."[105] Devin Faraci of Empire magazine also gave a positive rating of four out of five stars, saying: "McG has sparked a moribund franchise back to life, giving fans the post-apocalyptic action they’ve been craving since they first saw a metal foot crush a human skull two decades ago."[106] However, on CHUD, the latter said, "Bale's desire to star as John Connor was probably the most fatal blow to the film; it completely distorted the shape of the story as it existed." Furthermore, he expressed that the third act was when the film began falling apart, saying, "McG and Nolan muddied the end of the picture, delivering action generics (yet another Terminator fight in a factory) while never finding their own hook that would give this movie more of an impact than you would get from an expanded universe novel."[107] In contrast, James Berardinelli considered the ending the best part of the film, feeling that the first two-thirds were "rambling and disjointed" and that the lack of a central villain was only fixed when the T-800 appeared.[108]

Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times stated that "[Bale's] strengths do not serve him, or the movie, as well here" and that "when the story starts to crumble around Bale, Worthington is there to pick up the pieces."[109] A.O. Scott of the New York Times said the film has "a brute integrity lacking in some of the other seasonal franchise movies" and "efficient, reasonably swift storytelling."[110] Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz gave the film a "See It" and "Skip It," respectively, on their show At the Movies with the latter mentioning that it "is the worst big budget summer release I’ve seen in some time".[111]

Arnold Schwarzenegger, star of the preceding three films in the series, remarked that Terminator Salvation was "a great film, I was very excited."[112] James Cameron, creator of the series, considered it an "interesting film" that he "didn't hate as much as I thought I was going to", and praised Sam Worthington's performance.[113] Linda Hamilton, who portrayed Sarah Connor in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day and lent her voice to Terminator Salvation, wished the film "all the best" but expressed her opinion that the series "was perfect with two films. It was a complete circle, and it was enough in itself. But there will always be those who will try [to] milk the cow."[114]

Box office

The film's first nationwide U.S. screenings were at 12 A.M. on Thursday, May 21, 2009, making $3 million from midnight screenings and earning $13.3 million in its first day.[115] The movie grossed an additional $42,558,390 on its 4-day Memorial Day opening weekend,[116] and debuted at #2 behind Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, giving it a lower first weekend take than its predecessor and becoming the first film in the series not to open at #1.[117] Terminator Salvation was more successful in its international release, opening at #1 in 66 of 70 territories through the first week of June,[118] and continuing to be the highest-grossing film in the following week.[119] The film's total domestic gross is at $125,322,469, and along with $246,723,586 from overseas territories, for a worldwide gross of $372,046,055.[2] As of December 2009, the film ranks fourteenth for the year internationally and twenty third domestically (U.S. and Canada), which ranks it last in the series and puts it below initial expectations in terms of domestic gross and first weekend, as well as overall global take.[120][121][122]

Home media

The DVD and Blu-ray Disc of the film was released on December 1, 2009. The former contains the theatrical cut of the film with a featurette on the Mototerminators. The Blu-ray features both the theatrical cut and the R-rated Director's cut, which is three minutes longer (118 minutes), with bonus material including Maximum Movie Mode, a video commentary in which director McG talks about the film while it plays, featurettes, a video archive, and a digital comic of the first issue of the official movie prequel comic. Both versions include a digital copy of the theatrical cut for portable media players.[123] Target Stores will be the only retailer to carry the Director's Cut on DVD.[124] On its first week of retail, Terminator Salvation debuted at the top spot of the Blu-Ray charts, and on second in the DVD charts, behind Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.[125]


Sideway view of a Formula one racecar, with a Terminator faceplate and "Terminator Salvation" written in its rear.
Rubens Barrichello driving his Brawn GP car Brawn BGP 001 with Terminator Salvation sponsorship at the Spanish GP.

In addition to the novelization by Alan Dean Foster, a prequel novel titled From the Ashes by Timothy Zahn was released.[126][127] IDW Publishing released a four-issue prequel comic, as well as an adaptation.[128] It follows Connor rallying together the resistance in 2017, as well as examining normal people overcoming their intolerances to defeat Skynet.[129] Playmates Toys, Sideshow Collectibles, Hot Toys, Character Options, and DC Unlimited produced merchandise,[130][131] while Chrysler, Sony, Pizza Hut, and 7-Eleven were among the product placement partners.[132][133] On May 23, 2009, a roller coaster named after the film opened at Six Flags Magic Mountain.[134]

A third-person shooter video game of the same name was released on the same week of the release of the film.[135] Christian Bale declined to lend his voice, so Gideon Emery voiced the character of John Connor. The game, however, features the voices of Common and Moon Bloodgood as Barnes and Blair Williams, respectively.[136] Despite not appearing in the film, Rose McGowan voiced the character of Angie Salter, an ex-high school teacher.[137] The game is set in 2016, after the events of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and before the events of Terminator Salvation.

Awards and nominations

Award Year Category Result Cast/Crew Source
Teen Choice Awards 2009 Choice Movie Actor: Action Adventure Nominated Christian Bale [138]
Choice Movie Actress: Action Adventure Nominated Bryce Dallas Howard
Choice Movie Fresh Face Male Nominated Sam Worthington
Choice Movie: Action Adventure Nominated
Choice Summer Movie: Action Adventure Nominated
Satellite Award 2009 Best Sound (Mixing and Editing) Nominated Cameron Frankley
Mark Ulano
Richard Van Dyke
Ron Bartlett


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External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Terminator Salvation is the fourth movie in the Terminator series. It focuses on the future war between humanity and machines, abandoning the series' forumla of a protector and a Terminator sent back through time to kill John Connor.

Directed by McG. Written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris. Characters by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd.


John Connor

  • (To Marcus Wright) You and me, we've been at war since before either of us existed. You tried to kill my mother. You killed my father. But you will not kill me.
  • (To General Ashdown, on the eve of the Resistance's offensive against Skynet) If we stay the course, we are dead! We are all dead!
  • This is not the future my mother warned me about.
  • (At the end of each of his radio broadcasts) This is John Connor.
  • (Ending a radio broadcast) This is John Connor. If you are listening to this message, you are the Resistance.
  • We've been fighting a long time. We're outnumbered by machines.
  • (After Kate asks what she should say if his men find him gone) I'll be back.
  • Win or lose, the war ends tonight!
  • (last lines of the film) There is a storm on the horizon. A time of hardship and pain. The battle has been won, but the war against machines rages on. Skynet's global network remains strong, but we will not quit, until all of it's destroyed. This is John Connor. There is no fate but what we make.

Marcus Wright

  • (After kissing a cancer striken scientist, prior to his execution) So that's what death tastes like.
  • (To Kyle Reese) You point that gun at someone you better be ready to pull the trigger.
  • (To John Connor) I'm the only hope you have.
  • (On becoming a machine) I need to find who did this to me. And so did you.
  • (As Marcus gives his heart to John Connor) What is it that makes us human? It's not something you can program. You can't put it into a chip. It's the strength of the human heart. The difference between us and machines.

Kyle Reese

  • Come with me if you want to live.
  • You know the difference between humans and machines? We bury our dead.


Kyle Reese: Who are you?!
John Connor: John Connor!

Marcus Wright: What day is it? What year?
Kyle Reese: 2018.
Marcus Wright: What happened here?
Kyle Reese: Judgment Day happened.

Marcus Wright: (looks at Kyle eating) What is that?
Kyle Reese: Two day old coyote. Better than three day old coyote.

Marcus Wright: My name, is Marcus Wright.
John Connor: You think you're human?
Marcus Wright: I am human. (looks down, and sees his metal endoskeleton) NO!

John Connor: What are you?
Marcus Wright: I don't know.

(John is going to San Francisco, the Skynet headquarters for the United States, to look for the teenage version of his father, Kyle Reese)
Kate Connor: What should I tell your men when they realize you're gone?
John Connor: I'll be back.

Marcus Wright: (thinking) What is it that makes us human? It's not something you can program. You can't put it into a chip. It's the strength of the human heart. The difference between us and machines.
John Connor: (pause and than continues thinking) There is a storm on the horizon. A time of hardship and pain. This battle has been won, but the war against the machines races on. Skynet's global network remains strong, but we will not quit, until all of it is destroyed. This is John Connor. There is no fate, but what we make.

Marcus Wright: Let me down.
John Connor: If I let you down,you'll kill everyone in this room.
Marcus Wright: Just you Connor.

Skynet: You cannot save John Connor.
Marcus Wright: Watch me.


  • The end begins
  • On May 21st, we fight back
  • Forget the past

External Links

Wikipedia has an article about:


Christian Bale as John Connor
Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright
Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese
Common as Barnes
Michael Ironside as General Ashdown

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