Arnold Schwarzenegger to return as Terminator in Tencent-backed trilogy
“I’ll be back.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger probably didn’t know it at the time, but his words have certainly rung true.
This time he’ll return thanks to Tencent, after the company announced it plans on rebooting the Terminator franchise with three new films -- with the first to be released in 2019.
It’s the first co-production between Tencent Pictures and Skydance Media since the Chinese tech giant bought a stake in the US production company earlier this year, according to the South China Morning Post.
Just like in the US, China's entertainment companies have been trying to get an upper-hand in the battle for eyeballs by offering exclusive content.
Baidu subsidiary iQiyi struck a deal with Netflix last year to give Chinese subscribers access to US original series, including Black Mirror and Stranger Things. iQiyi also has a similar deal with Paramount Pictures.
For Tencent, choosing Terminator makes sense given the franchise's past performance in China. While Skydance's Terminator Genisys in 2015 was a flop in the West, it became a massive hit with Chinese audiences.
Film industry insiders put the success down to Schwarzenegger’s enduring popularity in China, along with the country’s fascination with films featuring robots and machines. Transformers and Pacific Rim are two other franchises that did particularly well in mainland China.
Tencent isn’t the only Chinese company banking on Terminator’s huge following.
When NetEase -- one of Tencent’s competitors in the gaming space -- decided to launch a battle royale mode in China, it added to its existing Terminator 2 game. Despite only a few minor references to the 1991 film, the game turned out to be a blockbuster.