History, Legacy & Showmanship

Back from the Future: Remembering “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” on its 25th Anniversary

July 6, 2016 - 12:22 pm   |   by
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“Cameron’s achievement isn’t only technical. He’s using all the not-so-cheap thrills of a violent genre to make a movie with an antiviolence message, and the wonder of T2 is that he pulls it off without looking silly.” — David Ansen, Newsweek

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective article commemorating the silver anniversary of the release of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, James Cameron’s sci-fi/action follow-up to his 1984 surprise hit featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger in perhaps his finest role. The most popular film of 1991 also featured Linda Hamilton (reprising her role as Sarah Connor) plus Robert Patrick’s memorable turn as the T-1000 and Edward Furlong as the young John Connor.

T2, the winner of four Academy Awards (including Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Makeup), opened 25 years ago this week, and to commemorate the occasion The Bits features a compilation of box-office data that places Cameron’s “violent movie about peace” in context, as well as a collection of passages from vintage film reviews and a list of the film’s “six-track” showcase presentations.  [Read on here...]

The piece also features an interview segment with Cameron associate, Van Ling (who was also featured a couple years ago in our 30th anniversary coverage of the original Terminator).

A scene from Terminator 2

 

T2 NUMBER$

  • 1 = Rank among top-earning movies during opening weekend
  • 1 = Rank on list of top box-office earners of 1991 (calendar year)
  • 1 = Rank on list of top box-office earners of 1991 (legacy)
  • 1 = Rank on list of top box-office earners of 1991 (among R-rated films)
  • 1 = Rank on list of top box-office earners of 1991 (summer season)
  • 1 = Rank on TriStar’s all-time list of top box-office earners at close of original release
  • 4 = Number of Academy Awards
  • 4 = Number of weeks nation’s top-grossing movie (weeks 1-4)
  • 5 = Number of months between theatrical release and home-video release
  • 6 = Number of Academy Award nominations
  • 11 = Rank on all-time list of top box-office earners at close of original release (rental)
  • 13 = Rank on all-time list of top box-office earners at close of original release (gross)
  • 16 = Number of days to gross $100 million
  • 18 = Rank among top-earning movies of the 1990s
  • 24 = Number of 70mm prints
  • 25 = Number of years TriStar’s top-earning film
  • 108 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing movies (domestic, adjusted for inflation)
  • 126 = Number of days to gross $200 million
  • 148 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing movies (worldwide)
  • 161 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing movies (domestic)
  • 2,274 = Number of opening-week bookings
  • $99.95 = Suggested retail price of original home video release
  • $119.95 = Suggested retail price of 1993 Special Edition LaserDisc set
  • $13,969 = Opening-weekend per-screen average
  • $9.3 million = Box-office gross (preview screenings + opening day)
  • $31.8 million = Box-office gross (opening weekend, Days 3-5)
  • $52.3 million = Box-office gross (preview screenings + first two days + opening weekend)
  • $102.0 million = Production cost
  • $112.5 million = Box-office rental
  • $179.9 million = Production cost (adjusted for inflation)
  • $198.4 million = Box-office rental (domestic, adjusted for inflation)
  • $204.8 million = Box-office gross
  • $315.0 million = Box-office gross (international)
  • $361.2 million = Box-office gross (domestic, adjusted for inflation)
  • $519.8 million = Box-office gross (worldwide)
  • $555.6 million = Box-office gross (international, adjusted for inflation)
  • $916.8 million = Box-office gross (worldwide, adjusted for inflation)

A scene from Terminator 2

 

A SAMPLING OF MOVIE REVIEWER QUOTES

“Cameron’s achievement isn’t only technical. He’s using all the not-so-cheap thrills of a violent genre to make a movie with an antiviolence message, and the wonder of T2 is that he pulls it off without looking silly.” — David Ansen, Newsweek

Terminator 2 arrives with a bang, waving a pacifist flag that is the height of hypocrisy in a film that exploits mind-boggling levels of violence and mayhem.” — James Verniere, Boston Herald

“If the reported $100 million budget is a study in excess, at least a lot of it ended up on the screen.” — Variety

“Brutally beautiful, darkly comic sci-fi, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is guaranteed to destroy the feeble competition and conquer the world this summer. Visceral to the point of overkill, a berserk blizzard of kinetic images, it doesn’t even give you time to be scared.” — Joe Brown, The Washington Post

“Mr. Cameron has made a swift, exciting special-effects epic that thoroughly justifies its vast expense and greatly improves upon the first film’s potent but rudimentary visual style… . This tirelessly violent, ultimately exhausting film has the utter sincerity of all good science fiction, and a lot more flair than most, but it suffers from a certain confusion of purpose. In the end, it amounts to quite the pistol-packing plea for peace.” — Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“More elaborate than the original, but just as shrewdly put together, it cleverly combines the most successful elements of its predecessor with a number of new twists to produce one hell of a wild ride, a Twilight of the Gods that takes no prisoners and leaves audiences desperate for mercy.” — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Two thumbs up.” — Siskel & Ebert

James Cameron on the set of T2

“This is one terrific action picture, thanks to some truly spectacular and mystifying special effects.” — Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

“Schwarzenegger’s genius as a movie star is to find roles that build on, rather than undermine, his physical and vocal characteristics.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“Four Stars. Brace yourself, the summer movie has arrived. Everything you could want in an action-adventure — incredible special effects, and the awesome and amusing presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger.” — Jack Garner, Gannett News Service

“The surprise is that a picture made to be exciting for 136 minutes is so unexciting most of the time. It starts with a bang and keeps banging, so there’s little suspense and no crescendo.” — Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic

“No one in the movies today can match Cameron’s talent for this kind of hyperbolic, big-screen action.” — Hal Hinson, The Washington Post

“Like so many sequels, [T2] lacks the freshness of the first film and gives us no one to root for.” — Leonard Maltin, Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide

“It’s a joyride until you think about the film’s biggest contradiction. How come this movie celebrating the superiority of human feelings over machine precision is most alive when thrilling in the mechanical perfection of the Terminator and T-1000? Inside Terminator 2 beats a human heart. But its soul is that of a killer machine.” — Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Schwarzenegger is in impeccable deadpan form, milking his tough-guy image for all it’s worth and getting laughs out of the Terminator’s wooden parroting of slang (’No problemo’ probably will be a catch-phrase to reckon with this summer)… . This is a movie that adores its own violence, then shakes its head with regret over it. The right hand knows what the left is doing — and isn’t at all bothered by it.” — Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times

“[T2] is a movie that seems to set new marks for violence, explosiveness, state-of-the-art technical effects and budgetary extravagance. It is, at the same time, dazzling and numbing, a movie that stuns you in all senses of the word… . Considerably overlong at two hours and 16 minutes, the film bombards you so unrelentingly that you eventually become indifferent to action that would have popped your eyes out two hours earlier… . But if Terminator 2 is guilty of wretched excess, it is also one of the most remarkable science-fiction adventures, on a technical level at least.” — George Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Puts the formerly appealing burger waitress heroine through an unappealing Jane Fonda workout. Makes chipmunk-cute Hamilton look like a piece of beef jerky left in the sun for six months. Motivation analysis: failed Sigourney Weaver wannabe effort.” — Kathy Huffhines, Detroit Free Press

“A humongous, visionary parable that intermittently enthralls and ultimately disappoints.” — Richard Corliss, Time

“$100 million worth of special affects [sic] fizzles like a fireworks display after 10 minutes. The thrill of Terminator 2 is gone, and you start to wonder why Ah-nold, dolled up in commando gear like a left-over Rambo, doesn’t get it. Guns don’t work on this heavy metal. But Arnold keeps shooting. Or you wonder at the high moral road Cameron and writer William Wisher seem to think they took with their tacked on anti-war theme — in the name of which all manner of maiming, death and destruction occurs. Finally, you wonder how $100 million could be this boring.” — Catherine Dunphy, Toronto Star

“The film’s relentless pummeling grows wearying at 135 minutes. The first Terminator, a half-hour shorter, was leaner and meaner.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Terminator 2 imagines things you wouldn’t even be likely to dream and gets these visions onto the screen with a seamlessness that’s mind-boggling.” — Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

James Cameron on the set of T2

 [On to Page 2] 

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