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I recently read this article which points out the build-up James Cameron did intentionally to mislead who the assassin robot was in Terminator 2: Judgement Day and how the marketing campaign immediately killed any suspense. It's a really good break down of the scenes. I remember originally watching the movie that I kept expecting the T-800 to become the bad guy for some reason but have never really thought about why.

Nowadays the word spoiler is used to describe a pre-explaining of plot details in a story that are meant to be a surprise. So revealing the T-800 as the good guy this time definitely could be considered a spoiler but it also can be described as the basic logline of the movie. The Terminator comes back in time again this time to save John Connor from another Terminator. With that taken into consideration, did the marketing for T2 actually spoil the movie? Even the article pointed out that it "got butts in seats".

Now without getting into a too opinionated discussion if the movie would have been better with or without the surprise, I'd be interested if there was anything ever said by James Cameron as to whether marketing ruined the suspense he was trying to build? Was this marketing strategy and this "spoiling" of the surprise always intended as part of the movie's overall impression or did it simply slip from the filmmakers' hands?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Liath, Paulster2, Andrew Martin, Johnny Bones, GµårÐïåñ Jul 23 at 17:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
How would you measure this? By audience reaction? Personally, I'd edit your title as this sounds very subjective (i.e. asking for opinions) as it stands. –  Andrew Martin Jul 23 at 11:22
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@AndrewMartin What's wrong with asking for opinions? I don't mean for it to be "opinion-based" but aren't all reviews and critiques of cinema opinion-based? This is a probably a question that should go to Meta but I hope it's not needed for this question. The article does a good job of using scenes from the movie to support it's theory. This is what I expect from a good answer to this question. Something ringing closer to an analysis than just an opinion. Asking for a quote from James Cameron if possible, I think clarifies that sources should be used to support any stated opinion. –  Kevin Howell Jul 23 at 12:59
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I don't know how any answer could objectively address the question. If an answer begins "I think it spoiled the movie" it's obviously subjective. You could look at the amount of money the movie made, but what would you compare it to? The "unspoiled" movie was never released, so any financial information is subjective too. Even a quote from the director wouldn't answer that question, as it would simply be his opinion on the issue. Similarly, in response to your last question, how could "suspense" of a movie be accurately measured? I just think this question is far too subjective. –  Andrew Martin Jul 23 at 13:07
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I think that it's pretty clear the OP is asking about from the Directors point of view. Did marketing ruin (spoil) Cameron's vision for the story he was telling (the movie)? –  Ben Plont Jul 23 at 13:43
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It is in essence a subjective question but I do think this one is definable and not open for debate but honest yes/no answers. To clarify because I don't want this question redirected, I am not just asking from the Directors point of view but I do feel his view would make a strong statement, I want an overall observation in retrospect of an event. I'm not asking if marketing took the wrong direction as that would be opinion only. It's not a simple question but the answer should not be completely opinion based but use logical statements from facts to support it's answer. –  Kevin Howell Jul 23 at 14:09

2 Answers 2

  • Terminator 2 grossed $204,843,345 in its domestic market and $315,000,000 in foreign markets. (source: BoxOfficeMojo).
  • Terminator 2 is widely regarded as one of the best sci-fi films of all time (source: my knowledge of sci-fi films and fans).

With these two facts in mind, I think it's safe to conclude that nothing spoiled the movie. To the contrary, the movie was a massive success.

Of course, if you had seen a preview that revealed Arnold's character to be a good guy, you would not be surprised by that revelation while you are watching the movie. And I would tend to agree that the movie would have been even cooler if that surprise had not been revealed in a preview. But then I wonder if reviews and other word-of-mouth would have ruined the surprise for most people anyway -- in other words, maybe the marketing strategy recognized that the twist was too big to stay a surprise.

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Okay so I'm having to answer my own question on the same day I posted it so that this question doesn't get closed as off-topic "opinion-based". I don't like having to do this but I feel I have a solid question here.

According to jamescamerononline.com "We've got a story worked out but it hasn't gone beyond the talk stage" - James Cameron on Terminator 2 in English Magazine 1985

William Wisher: Jim pulled out this old yellow sheet of paper from a notebook and handed it to me without saying anything. there was one sentence scribbled on the dog eared page. It read: Young John Connor and the terminator that comes back to befriend him. (The Making of T2, 1991)

This shows that Cameron's original logline spoils the movie right there.

However the article that OP (That'sa me) linked doesn't pull this "the marketing spoiled the idea of who's the bad terminator" out of nowhere it directly states it on the jamescamerononline.com that "The movie is designed in such way that the audience doesn't know which of the time travelers is the good guy. The way the movie is shot and the story and angles constructed is to make them think that T-800 is the antagonist and T-1000 a human character. T-1000 is never shown to kill the cop or copy his clothes and seems very genuine when talking to John Connor's foster parents, while the T-800 is shown to go through the bar like a tank, crushing hands, breaking arms and seriously injuring people."

So did James Cameron spoil his own script that he wrote? He had complete control of the movie for almost all aspects it seems strange that marketing got away from him. I haven't found a direct quote referencing this but there is this quote from the same website "James Cameron (Globalnet): On T2, I wondered if I could get the audience to an emotional place where they would cry for the Terminator. That was my goal: Could I take world's coldest motherfucker and turn you around in a two-hour time period to where you actually felt sorry for him? Forget about all the hoo-ha with the liquid metal guy: that was fun, but getting the audience to cry for the Terminator was the big cinematic challenge. That's the reason I made the movie"

So yes there was an intentional story development of suspense as to who the evil terminator was supposed to be. Marketing definitely blew a hole in this by stating point blank who was good and who was bad. However it did not spoil anything. The suspense is meant for the story itself and even knowing what the marketing of the movie was before watching there are two things that would keep the suspense going despite knowing who is good and who is bad. One marketing is wrong a lot and sometimes misleading on purpose. Two the T-800 is so ruthless it seems like is still the bad one even after the reveal. It's not until it saves Sarah Connor that safety is guaranteed with this machine. Plus one more thing from the characters perspective of John and Sarah Connor the T-800 is the bad guy. That is who we watch the movie from the perspective of.

So no it wasn't spoiled and yes most likely Cameron was onboard for this marketing as it didn't change the storyline. His really intention and the payoff for him was to make the audience care about the T-800 as it sacrificed itself.

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On a side note, never be put off answering your question regardless of how quickly you post your answer. Answering your own question isn't just allowed, it's encouraged. –  Andrew Martin Jul 23 at 21:35
    
"James Cameron (Globalnet): On T2, I wondered if I could get the audience to an emotional place where they would cry for the Terminator. That was my goal: Could I take world's coldest motherfucker and turn you around in a two-hour time period to where you actually felt sorry for him? [...] That's the reason I made the movie"" - And how on earth do you conclude from this that "there was an intentional story development of suspense as to who the evil terminator was supposed to be. Marketing definitely blew a hole in this"? –  Napoleon Wilson Jul 24 at 1:11
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And of course in addition to what Andrew said, in the same way never feel obliged to answer your own question only to stop it from closing (how on earth can an answer prevent a question from getting closed anyway?). So one could say you did the right thing for the wrong reason. ;-) –  Napoleon Wilson Jul 24 at 1:13
    
@NapoleonWilson I didn't conclude that from that statement. I came to the conclusion that it didn't matter to the director if it was leaked or known which Terminator was the bad guy. What mattered to him was by the end of the story you cared for the T-800. And as far as answering my own question in the comments Andrew Martin stated "I still don't understand how this can be answered without being subjected." I felt I had to provide an example since it couldn't be comprehended. –  Kevin Howell Jul 24 at 13:38
    
@KevinHowell "I didn't conclude that from that statement. I came to the conclusion that it didn't matter to the director if it was leaked or known which Terminator was the bad guy. What mattered to him was by the end of the story you cared for the T-800." - Indeed, that is also what I concluded. But the in the next sentence you suddenly write "So yes there was an intentional story development of suspense as to who the evil terminator was supposed to be. Marketing definitely blew a hole in this" - Which as you say, does not really follow from what Cameron said. –  Napoleon Wilson Jul 24 at 14:05

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