Credit to: Wired.com
Here's how a killing machine evolved into a killer franchise.
The Terminator debuts in 1984, directed by James Cameron. Starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was only known as Conan at the time. The film pulls in $78 million worldwide. Meanwhile, the first wave of novelizations hits bookstores, and a franchise is born.
The first Terminator videogame for PCs hits the streets, sparking more than two dozen iterations across a wide array of consoles. Flush with Rambo dough, indie film studio Carolco Pictures acquires Hemdale's rights for a film follow-up. Cameron signs on to direct.
T2-mania is in full swing. Metallic T-800 skulls show up on backpacks, boxer shorts, lunch boxes, and cubicle walls as licensees like Kenner and MacFarlane Toys see total sales for Terminator-related merchandise climb into the nine-digit range.
T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, a 12-minute theme-park attraction, opens at Universal Studios in Orlando. One of the priciest ($60 million) and most complex attractions ever, it's codirected and written by Cameron and features original performances by all of T2's principal actors.
Director Jonathan Mostow spends a whopping $187 million to make Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. It makes a modest $44 million on opening weekend, but its ultimate box-office gross lifts the film franchise's total to $1 billion worldwide.
Fox's The Sarah Connor Chronicles, starring Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, and Summer Glau, debuts to 18.3 million viewers. It's a critical darling but struggles for ratings and is hobbled by the Writers Guild strike. Nonetheless, Fox renews the series for another season.
Warner Bros. is set to release the $200 million, postapocalyptic Terminator Salvation, starring Christian Bale, in nearly 4,000 theaters on Memorial Day weekend. A battalion of next-gen videogames is in the works, and a $10 million, 2,850-foot-long Terminator roller coaster opens at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Illustrations: John Ritter; Photos: 1984: Everett; 1992: Allen Shope/Treasure-cove; 1995: Getty; Furlong: Everett; 1997: Getty; 2003: Warner Bros/Everett; 2008: Michael Desmond/Fox