Edward Furlong as John Connor and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator in director James Cameron's 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day.'

(L to R) Edward Furlong as John Connor and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator in director James Cameron's 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day.'

James Cameron is going to be spending most of his future filmmaking time on Pandora, or at least virtually, making the various sequels to ‘Avatar’ and its new follow-up, ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, which has recently hit theaters.

But he still has his mind on other franchises that he’s launched or helped along in the years past, including ‘Alita: Battle Angel’. And, if anyone else really wants to touch the subject after the abject failure of ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’, another movie set in the world of Skynet and dangerous technology.

Talking on the ‘Smartless’ podcast, Cameron admitted that he’d at least had discussions about a potential next ‘Terminator’ movie, though it sounds like it’ll have less to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s killer cyborg.

“If I were to do another ‘Terminator’ film and maybe try to launch that franchise again, which is in discussion, but nothing has been decided, I would make it much more about the AI side of it than bad robots gone crazy,” Cameron told the hosts.

And he’s also recently been candid about the fate––pun intended––of ‘Dark Fate’, admitting that it had its own issues.

Linda Hamilton in 'Terminator: Dark Fate.'

Linda Hamilton in 'Terminator: Dark Fate.'

The movie, directed by ‘Deadpool’s Tim Miller and for which Cameron helped crank out the story and worked as producer, was not a big success at the box office, though the filmmaker seems happy that it got made at all.

“I think, I’m actually reasonably happy with the film. Tim and I had our battles and we’ve both spoken about that, but the crazy thing is we’re still pals. Which is weird. I liked him before the movie, didn’t like him very much during the movie, and I like him now, and I think he feels the same way,” Cameron told Deadline.

And he’s also open as to why it didn’t work completely. “I think the problem, and I’m going to wear this one, is that I refused to do it without Arnold. Tim didn’t want Arnold, but I said, “Look, I don’t want that. Arnold and I have been friends for 40 years, and I could hear it, and it would go like this: ‘Jim, I can’t believe you’re making a Terminator movie without me.’ ” Cameron laughs. “It just didn’t mean that much to me to do it, but I said, ‘If you guys could see your way clear to bringing Arnold back and then, you know, I’d be happy to be involved.’ ”

But it snowballed from there, according to Cameron… “And then Tim wanted Linda (Hamilton). I think what happened is I think the movie could have survived having Linda in it, I think it could have survived having Arnold in it, but when you put Linda and Arnold in it and then, you know, she’s 60-something, he’s 70-something, all of a sudden it wasn’t your ‘Terminator’ movie, it wasn’t even your dad’s ‘Terminator’ movie, it was your granddad’s ‘Terminator’ movie,” he admits. “And we didn’t see that. We loved it, we thought it was cool, you know, that we were making this sort of direct sequel to a movie that came out in 1991. And young moviegoing audiences weren’t born. They wouldn’t even have been born for another 10 years.”

Director James Cameron for 'Avatar: The Way of Water.'

Director James Cameron for 'Avatar: The Way of Water.'

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, meanwhile, is doing a little bit better at the box office, though perhaps not with an opening (here in the States at least) as big as it might have been––or that it needs to really earn its expansive budget back.

‘The Way of Water’ opened with $134 million after its first weekend, certainly impressive (in an era of fewer movies seeing big numbers), but below Disney’s expectations. And below Cameron’s own real hopes. The director himself had said before its launch that the movie would “have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history” to break even, and this is certainly not that.

Still, as has been said many times before, no one should count out James Cameron. The movie has still enjoyed the sixth best opening ever for December, the month’s best non-MCU and non- ‘Star Wars’ opening, was 74% ahead of the first ‘Avatar’ ($77 million) and 5.5% ahead of this year’s own box office champ, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ ($127 million).

Internationally the film opened to $301 million, bringing the global weekend total to $435 million. It’s the second biggest global start of the year, right at the tail of 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ $442 million global bow.

Jake Sully and Neteyam in 20th Century Studios' 'Avatar: The Way of Water.'

(L to R): Jake Sully and Neteyam in 20th Century Studios' 'Avatar: The Way of Water.' Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

And it has been swamping cinema takings in places such as the UK, where it debuted at No. 1 with a gargantuan £11.1 million ($13.5 million). In fairness, no other studio dared open a big release against it, and the film faces little major competition in the coming couple of weeks, so it could well hold on and keep earning big bucks, especially if good word of mouth works in its favor.

Reviews for the movie across the spectrum from outright pans to raves, somewhat in keeping with the original movie, which, let’s not forget, went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time, until it was unseated by ‘Avengers: Endgame’, and managed to reclaim the title thanks to re-releases.

Cameron’s latest effectively has the holiday period to itself, at least in terms of major, all-audience releases, so there’s plenty of opportunity ahead for it to scoop up cash like a Pandoran Nalutsa glides through the ocean, hovering up plants and small animals.

With big spectacle and a desire for audiences to see its distinctive, technologically advanced visuals in theaters, expect ‘The Way of Water’ to stay afloat for a while yet. And even if it doesn’t live up to the 2009 movie’s Biggest Movie Ever, it’s far from a flop. Cameron has said he’d let market forces decide if the ‘Avatar’ universe would continue; the fact that he’s still at work on a third (and the others) suggests that his latest effort is being rewarded.

Whatever it ends up titled, the third ‘Avatar’ outing is scheduled for release on December 20th, 2024.