Thirty years ago, a killing machine from 2029—assuming the form of an Austrian bodybuilder—arrived with a lethal directive to alter the future. That he certainly did. The Terminator, made for $6.4 million by a couple of young disciples of B-movie king Roger Corman, became one of the defining sci-fi touchstones of all time. Its $38 million gross placed it outside of the top-20 box-office releases for 1984, yet the film grew into a phenomenon, spawning a five-picture franchise that’s taken in $1.4 billion to date and securing a place on the National Film Registry, which dubbed it “among the finest science-fiction films in many decades.”
The movie launched the career of James Cameron, who went on to direct the top two box-office earners of all time, Avatar and Titanic. It also boosted Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose monotone delivery and muscle-bound swagger made a cyborg assassin the height of cool. The actor, now filming next summer’s Terminator: Genesis in New Orleans, took a break to reminisce about his most indelible role. Settling for a landline call after four failed attempts to FaceTime—the former California governor’s favorite mode of communication—Schwarzenegger quipped, “Obviously we need James Cameron to provide the technology to link us.” His Terminator comrades also shared their memories via phone—just like it was 1984 again.
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