Even fully aware of the old trope that “movie trailers give the whole plot away,” watching the latest Terminator: Genisys trailer was, let’s say, still very surprising. (The trailer gives a pretty major reveal away. If you haven’t seen the trailer, this is your warning that, below in this interview, the details of that trailer are discussed.) Also surprised by this trailer was Terminator: Genisys director Alan Taylor, who certainly directed the movie in a way where we aren’t supposed to know that detail right away. Taylor was also surprised by those now infamous Entertainment Weekly photos, which received pretty much universal scorn and/or mockery on the Internet. Taylor admits that the marketing of Terminator: Genisys has been an “interesting lesson.”
Taylor – who has directed numerous episodes of The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, and Mad Men (including its premiere episode) – had a sort of trial by fire with his first major big budget studio movie, Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, which he admits now wasn’t a pleasant experience. (Anytime the phrase, “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone” is used, that’s a pretty good sign something did not go well.)
In Terminator: Genisys (which we reviewed here), Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) travels back in time to 1984 on what he thinks is a mission to rescue Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from the original Terminator (a young Arnold Schwarzenegger). But, when Reese arrives, everything is not what he expects, as the original timeline has now been erased, and it’s Sarah Connor, along with an aged Terminator (present-day Schwarzenegger), who must rescue him. Ahead, Taylor talks about his frustration with the audience now knowing just who Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor are running from and why humor is so important to this story. He also explains just what happened that made Thor: The Dark World a negative experience that, again, he wouldn’t wish on anyone.
While watching Terminator: Genisys, I wish I didn’t know what was given away in the trailer.
Yeah, it’s funny; I certainly directed those scenes with the intention that no one would know. One of my favorite moments – and I think Jason Clarke did a great job with it – is when he walks into the hospital in 2017 and everything from there until the turn, you’re supposed to think, Oh man, this is great.
John Connor is there to save the day, then it becomes a nice moment.
I can’t agree with you more. I know there was kind of a challenging calculus going on in the heads of those who market this thing to decide that this was the right thing to do. I think they felt like they had to send a strong message to a very wary audience that there was something new, that this was going to new territory. They were concerned that people were misperceiving this as kind of a reboot, and none of us wanted to reboot two perfect movies by James Cameron. I think they felt they had to do something game-changing in how the film was being perceived.
Were you consulted before that trailer was released?
I had a few heads ups and a few unpleasant conversations where I squawked about this or that [laughs].
You mentioned wary audiences, and there are people who feel we just went though this not too long ago with Terminator: Salvation, a movie that starred a popular actor, Christian Bale.