Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Cameron
Produced by James Cameron
Stephanie Austin
B. J. Rack
Gale Anne Hurd
Mario Kassar
Written by James Cameron
William Wisher Jr.
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
Linda Hamilton
Robert Patrick
Edward Furlong
Music by Brad Fiedel
Cinematography Adam Greenberg
Editing by Conrad Buff
Mark Goldblatt
Richard A. Harris
Studio Carolco
Lightstorm Entertainment
Pacific Western
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release date(s) July 3, 1991 (1991-07-03)
Running time 139 minutes[1][2]
Language English
Budget $102 million
Box office $519.8 million

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a 1991 science fiction action film directed by James Cameron and written by Cameron and William Wisher Jr.. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, and Edward Furlong. A sequel to 1984's The Terminator, it follows Sarah Connor (Hamilton) and her son John (Furlong) as they are pursued by a new, more advanced Terminator, the liquid metal, shape-shifting T-1000 (Patrick), sent back in time to kill John before he will become leader of the human resistance. An older, less advanced Terminator (Schwarzenegger) is also sent back in time to protect John and help avert Judgment Day; a day in history when the machines will first gain sentience and begin the extermination of humanity.

Terminator 2 was a significant box office and critical success. It had an impact on popular culture, and is considered hugely influential in the genres of action and science fiction.[3] The film's visual effects included many breakthroughs in computer-generated imagery, marking the first use of natural human motion for a computer-generated character and the first partially computer-generated main character.[4] It received many accolades, including four Academy Awards for makeup, sound mixing, sound editing, and visual effects.[5][6]



In 1995, eleven years after the events of The Terminator, John Connor (Edward Furlong) is ten years old and living in Los Angeles with foster parents. His mother Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) had been preparing him throughout his childhood for his future role as the leader of the human Resistance against Skynet, but she was arrested after attempting to bomb a computer factory and remanded to a hospital for the criminally insane under the supervision of Dr. Silberman (Earl Boen). Skynet sends a new Terminator, a T-1000 (Robert Patrick), back in time to 1995 to kill John. A more advanced prototype than the Terminator sent after Sarah, the T-1000 is composed of a "mimetic polyalloy", a liquid metal that allows it to take the shape and appearance of anyone or anything it touches. Though it cannot mimic complex machines such as guns or bombs, it can shape parts of itself into knives and stabbing weapons and can mimic the voice and appearance of humans. It assumes the identity of a police officer and goes in pursuit of John. Meanwhile, the future John Connor has sent back a reprogrammed T-800 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), identical to the one that attacked Sarah, to protect his younger self.

The Terminator and the T-1000 converge on John in a shopping mall, and a chase ensues in which John and the Terminator escape by motorcycle. The Terminator explains that he has been programmed to protect and obey John. Fearing that the T-1000 will kill Sarah in order to get to him, John orders the Terminator to help free her. They encounter Sarah in the midst of her own escape attempt, and she is initially terrified by the Terminator but accepts his assistance after he helps them to escape the T-1000. The Terminator informs John and Sarah about Skynet, the artificial intelligence that will initiate a nuclear holocaust on "Judgment Day" and go on to create the machines that will hunt the remnants of humanity. Sarah learns that the man most directly responsible for Skynet's creation is Miles Dyson (Joe Morton), a Cyberdyne Systems engineer working on a revolutionary new microprocessor that will form the basis for Skynet.

Gathering weapons from an old friend, Sarah plans to flee with John to Mexico. However, after having a horrific nightmare of a nuclear explosion she awakens with strengthened resolve and sets out to kill Miles Dyson. She wounds him at his home but finds herself unable to kill him in front of his family. Deducing her plan, John and the Terminator arrive and inform Miles of the consequences of his work. They learn that much of his research has been reverse engineered from the CPU and arm of the previous Terminator sent after Sarah. Convincing him that these items and his designs must be destroyed, they break into the Cyberdyne building and retrieve the CPU and arm. The police arrive and Miles is mortally shot, but stays behind to trigger the detonator that will destroy his research.

The T-1000 pursues John, Sarah, and the Terminator, catching up to them in a steel mill. In a climactic battle, the Terminator fires a grenade into the T-1000 and it falls into a vat of molten steel where it is destroyed. John throws the components of the original Terminator into the vat as well. The Terminator then sacrifices himself, asking Sarah to lower him into the steel so that his technology cannot be used to create Skynet. Sarah looks to the future with hope, believing that if a machine can learn the value of human life, then perhaps humanity is not doomed to self-destruction.


Linda Hamilton returned to her role as Sarah Connor from The Terminator.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, a cybernetic organism—living tissue over a powerful, metal endoskeleton—reprogrammed and sent back in time to protect the life of John Connor while he is still a child. Schwarzenegger was paid a salary of approximately $12–15 million for his role as the Terminator.[7][8]
  • Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, mother of the future leader of the human resistance in the war against Skynet. Hamilton reprised her role from the 1984 film for a salary of $1 million.[9] In preparation for the role, Hamilton underwent an extensive thirteen-week training regiment with personal trainer Anthony Cortes; training for three hours each day, six days a week before filming began. She additionally lost twelve pounds on a nonfat diet, conducted throughout the film's six-month shoot. Actor and former Israeli commando Uzi Gal provided her with training for her action scenes. On her work with Gal, Hamilton stated that she undertook "judo and heavy-duty military training. I learned to load clips, change mags, check out a room upon entry, verify kills."[10] Hamilton's twin sister Leslie Hamilton Gearren also portrayed Sarah when it was required that there be two of the character in the same shot.[10]
  • Robert Patrick as the T-1000, an advanced prototype terminator composed of liquid metal, sent back in time to assassinate John. Billy Idol was Cameron's original choice for the T-1000, and Cameron had drawn storyboards to resemble him, but Idol could not accept the role following a motorcycle accident.[11] Cameron stated that "I wanted to find someone who would be a good contrast to Arnold. If the 800 series [the model played by Schwarzenegger] is a kind of human Panzer tank, then the 1000 series had to be a Porsche."
  • Edward Furlong as John Connor, the ten-year old son of Sarah, given survival training from a young age, but taken into foster care after his mother is institutionalized. Furlong was discovered by casting director Mali Finn while visiting the Pasadena Boys and Girls Club. Furlong had no prior acting ambitions at the time. He has stated, "I fell into [acting], it wasn't something that I planned".[12] The adult John of 2029 A.D. is played by Michael Edwards.
  • Earl Boen as Dr. Peter Silberman, Sarah's psychiatrist, skeptical of her prophecies of machines destroying humanity.
  • Joe Morton as Miles Dyson, director of special projects at Cyberdyne and considered the man most responsible for the creation of Skynet.

The cast was rounded out with Jenette Goldstein and Xander Berkeley who portray John's foster parents, Janelle and Todd Voight respectively. Castulo Guerra plays Sarah's friend who provides her with weapons. Danny Cooksey plays Tim, John's friend. S. Epatha Merkerson plays Tarissa Dyson, the wife of Miles Dyson. Michael Biehn returned to the series as Kyle Reese, a soldier from 2029, in a cameo appearance, appearing in Sarah's dream. Biehn did not appear at all in the theatrically released version of the film,[13] but his scene was restored in extended versions of the film. Hamilton's then-twenty-month-old son Dalton plays her on-screen son in a dream sequence set in a playground.[10]



I always felt we should continue the story of The Terminator, I told Jim that right after we finished the first film.[14]

–Arnold Schwarzenegger on Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Though there had been talk of making a sequel to The Terminator immediately after the original's release, legal and technical issues prevented it. The legal gridlock was finally broken by Mario Kassar in 1990, while the technical ones by James Cameron himself during the making of The Abyss.

James Cameron and William Wisher completed the 140-page first draft on May 10, 1990. By July 15, the first shooting draft was distributed to the cast and crew. [15] Originally, he thought of casting actor Michael Biehn, who played Kyle Reese in The Terminator, in the role with the explanation that Skynet managed to clone Reese's body and use it for a new Terminator. Cameron ultimately dropped this idea after deciding the audience would find it too confusing.[citation needed]


I had a ball with [Schwarzenegger] on the set. Absolutely. We were both very professional. We both showed up, did our work, and we were under, well, I was under a great deal of pressure because I was an unknown and I had been given this plum role and I didn't want to screw it up.[16]

–Robert Patrick on acting in Terminator 2.
The film's visual effects were highly advanced for the time.

On a budget of $102 million, principal photography took place over 186 days between October 9, 1990 and April 4, 1991.[17] Most of the key Terminator effects were provided by Industrial Light & Magic for computer graphics and Stan Winston for practical effects. The external shots of Cyberdyne Systems Corporation were filmed on location at an office building on the corner of Gateway Boulevard and Bayside Parkway in Fremont, California. Of the fifteen minutes that the T-1000 displays its morphing and healing abilities, only six of those minutes were accomplished with pure computer graphics.[18] The other nine were achieved in camera with the use of advanced puppets and prosthetic effects created by the Stan Winston studio, who were also responsible for the metal skeleton effects of the T-800.

The budget, which was believed to have been $90 million at the time - 3.5 times the cost of the average film - was already nearly earned back prior to the film's release. Worldwide rights were sold for $65 million, video rights for $10 million, and television rights for $7 million.[19]

Hamilton's twin sister Leslie Hamilton Gearren was used in some scenes that required two Sarahs, specifically when in the same shot. She is the mirror image of Sarah in the scene where they open up the Terminator's head (deleted from the theatrical release), and in some of the shots as the T-1000 impersonated Sarah.[10] Gearren is playing whichever "Sarah" is farthest from the camera, alternating between the real Sarah and the T-1000 based on camera position. Another set of twins, Don and Dan Stanton, were used to play the mental hospital security guard and the T-1000 copying him.[20][21]

The shotgun used by Schwarzenegger throughout the film was a Winchester Model 1887, customized for the film to allow it to be "flip-cocked" by the actor in several of the film's scenes.


Box office

Opening in 2,274 theaters, Terminator 2: Judgment Day earned $54 million during its Fourth of July opening weekend. By 1991, only Batman (1989) had experienced a better opening weekend with $57 million during a five day period. An anonymous theater chain owner was reported as saying "[b]ut nothing since 'Batman' has created the frenzy for tickets we saw this weekend with 'Terminator.' At virtually all our locations, we were selling out well in advance of showings, and the word-of-mouth buzz out there is just phenomenal."[22]

Made for approximately $102 million,[23] the movie was, at the time, the most expensive movie ever made. However, if adjusted for inflation, Cleopatra, which cost $44 million when it was made in 1963, would have been $219 million in 1995 dollars.[24] Terminator 2 was a box-office success, earning $204.8 million in the United States alone, and $519 million worldwide and was the highest grossing film of 1991, beating Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and being TriStar Pictures' highest grossing film to date. [25][23] The original Terminator grossed only $38 million in the U.S. in its theatrical run,[26] making Terminator 2's 434% increase a record for a sequel.

Release date Budget Box office revenue Box office ranking (All Time) Ref.
US & Canada International Worldwide Release year US & Canada Worldwide
July 3, 1991 (1991-07-03) (United States) $102,000,000 $204,843,345 $315,000,000 $519,843,345 #1 #110 #84 [27]

Critical reception

The film received a positive reception from critics, earning a score of 68 out of 100 from 16 critics on review aggregate website Metacritic[28] and garnering 98% approval from 44 critics — an average rating of 8.4 out of 10 — on Rotten Tomatoes whose assessment reads: "T2 features thrilling action sequences and eye-popping visual effects, but what takes this sci-fi/ action landmark to the next level is the depth of the human (and cyborg) characters." Among those deemed "Top Critics" by Rotten Tomatoes, the film earned 89% approval from 9 reviews.[29]

The Montreal Film Journal calls it "one of the best crafted Hollywood action flicks."[30] Screenwriting guru Syd Field lauds the plot of Terminator 2, saying, for example, "every scene sets up the next, like links in a chain of dramatic action."[31] Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, who gave the film 3.5 stars out of a possible 4, complimented Schwarzenegger's performance, saying that "Schwarzenegger's genius as a movie star is to find roles that build on, rather than undermine, his physical and vocal characteristics."[32] Hal Hinson, reviewer for The Washington Post, was also very positive in his review, writing that "No one in the movies today can match Cameron's talent for this kind of hyperbolic, big-screen action. Cameron, who directed the first Terminator and Aliens, doesn't just slam us over the head with the action. In staging the movie's gigantic set pieces, he has an eye for both grandeur and beauty; he possesses that rare director's gift for transforming the objects he shoots so that we see, for example, the lyrical muscularity of an 18-wheel truck. Because of Cameron, the movie is the opposite of its Terminator character; it's a machine with a human heart."[33]

Writing for Time Magazine, Richard Corliss was far less pleased, stating that the film was "[a] humongous, visionary parable that intermittently enthralls and ultimately disappoints. T2 is half of a terrific movie—the wrong half."[34]


Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
1991 45th British Academy Film Awards BAFTA Award for Best Production Design Joseph Nemec III Nominated [35]
BAFTA Award for Best Sound Lee Orloff, Tom Johnson, Gary Rydstrom & Gary Summers Won
BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects Stan Winston, Dennis Muren, Gene Warren Jr. & Robert Skotak Won
Saturn Award Best Actress Linda Hamilton Won [36]
Best Direction James Cameron Won
Best Performance by a Younger Actor Edward Furlong Won
Best Science Fiction Film Terminator 2: Judgment Day Won
Best Special Effects Stan Winston, ILM, Fantasy II & 4 Ward Productions Won
Best Supporting Actor Robert Patrick Nominated
1992 18th People's Choice Awards Favorite Motion Picture Terminator 2: Judgment Day Won [37]
64th Academy Awards Best Cinematography Adam Greenberg Nominated [38]
Best Make Up Stan Winston and Jeff Dawn Won
Best Sound Tom Johnson, Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers and Lee Orloff Won
Best Sound Editing Gary Rydstrom and Gloria S. Borders Won
Best Visual Effects Dennis Muren, Stan Winston, Gene Warren Jr. and Robert Skotak Won
Film Editing Conrad Buff, Mark Goldblatt and Richard A. Harris Nominated
1992 MTV Movie Awards Best Action Sequence "L.A. Freeway Scene" Won [39]
Best Breakthrough Performance Edward Furlong Won
Best Female Performance Linda Hamilton Won
Best Male Performance Arnold Schwarzenegger Won
Best Movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day Won
Best Song From a Movie "You Could Be Mine" by Guns N' Roses Nominated
Best Villain Robert Patrick Nominated
Most Desirable Female Linda Hamilton Won
Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation James Cameron (director, screenplay), William Wisher, Jr. (screenplay) Won [40]

Home media

The movie was first released on DVD as a single disc in August 1997. Upon its release, the theatrical cut ran 139 minutes. On November 24, 1993, the Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Special Edition cut of the film was released to Laserdisc and VHS, containing 17 minutes of never-before-seen footage including scenes with Michael Biehn reprising his role as Kyle Reese in a dream sequence. The subsequent "Ultimate Edition" and "Extreme Edition" DVD releases also contain this version of the film.

Three versions of the film exist: the Theatrical cut, a "Special Edition" of the film for Laserdisc, VHS and DVD and an "Extended Special Edition" available only as an Easter egg on the Ultimate Edition DVD and later on the Skynet Edition Blu-ray disc. The "Special Edition" was titled the director's cut on the European high definition releases.

The special edition has been the same from release to release, with all the scenes that Cameron reinserted intact. There are, however, two scenes that Cameron shot but chose not to reinsert into the film which have been included as an accessible extra on most "Special Edition" releases. The first scene shows the T-1000's tactile approach to acquiring information about the physical world, "scanning" John's room with its fingertips, and eventually finding a hidden shoebox containing pictures and tapes of Sarah, seen at the end of the first film. The second scene is an alternate ending set in 2029 with an aged Sarah Connor reflecting on how Judgment Day was averted. The addition of these scenes is the only difference between the "Special Edition" and the "Extended Special Edition". This version can be accessed by pressing 8, 2, 9, 9, 7 (based on August 29, 1997, the date of Judgment Day) on the main menu of the DVD. The Easter egg is only functional on the Ultimate Edition DVD (no longer produced); however, these scenes can be accessed at a certain point in the film with the interactive mode on the Extreme DVD. In addition, the Extreme edition contains several Easter eggs, which include access to the theatrical version of the movie and a preview for the Ultimate Edition DVD.

The Extreme edition DVD has several DVD-ROM features, including Infiltration Unit Simulator and T2 FX Studio, an application where images of a person can be imported and morphed into a T-800 or T-1000, and Skynet Combat Chassis Designer, a program where viewers could build a fighting machine and be able to track progress online.[41] The Extreme DVD also contains a WMV-HD theatrical edition of T2, where the film can be watched, for the first time, in Full HD 1080p format.

Lionsgate released a Blu-ray of the film in 2006, presented in a slightly washed-out 1080p transfer and included no special features and a DTS 5.1 audio track from the DVDs instead of a lossless audio track. On May 19, 2009, Lionsgate re-released the film on Blu-ray with an enhanced and improved video transfer, as well as a THX certified DTS-Master Audio 6.1 audio. This "SkyNet Edition" also saw a limited collector's edition encased in an Endoskull. The limited collector's edition includes the 2009 Blu-ray as well as the Extreme Edition and Ultimate Edition DVDs and a digital copy of the film.[42]



The entrance to the Terminator 2 3-D attraction at Universal Studios Florida.

In 1996, Cameron directed an attraction at Universal Studios Theme Parks, titled T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, that saw the return of Schwarzenegger, Hamilton, Patrick, and Furlong to their respective roles. Costing $60 million to produce, with a run time of only twelve minutes, it became to most expensive venture per minute in the history of film.[43] The attraction opened in the Hollywood area of Universal Studios Florida in Spring 1996, with additional venues opening in the Upper Lot of Universal Studios Hollywood on May 6, 1999 and the New York section of Universal Studios Japan on March 31, 2001.


The film was adapted by Marvel Comics as a three issue miniseries, which was collected into a trade paperback. In the years following its release, several books based on the film were released, including: Malibu Comics Terminator 2 - Judgment Day: Cybernetic Dawn (aka. 'Present War'), Terminator 2 - Judgment Day: Nuclear Twilight (aka. 'Future War'), IDW Comics T2: Infiltrator, T2: Rising Storm & T2: Future War by S.M. Stirling and The John Connor Chronicles by Russell Blackford.

Video games

A series of seven games were created based on the film, made available for home consoles and arcade machines.


Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by Brad Fiedel
Released July 1, 1991
Genre Soundtrack
Length 53:01
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer Brad Fiedel, Robert Townson

The score by Fiedel was commercially released as the Terminator 2: Judgment Day Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on July 1, 1991 by Varèse Sarabande. The soundtrack was released on CD and Cassette Tape and contained twenty tracks with a runtime of 53 minutes. The score spent six weeks on the Billboard 200, reaching a peak of #70.[44]

All music composed by Brad Fiedel.

Track listing
No. Title Length
1. "Main Title from "Terminator 2""   1:56
2. "Sarah on the Run"   2:31
3. "Escape from the Hospital (And T-1000)"   4:34
4. "Desert Suite"   3:25
5. "Sarah's Dream (Nuclear Nightmare)"   1:49
6. "Attack on Dyson (Sarah's Solution)"   4:07
7. "Our Gang Goes to Cyberdyne"   3:11
8. ""Trust Me""   1:38
9. "John & Dyson into Vault"   0:41
10. "SWAT Team Attack"   3:22
11. ""I'll Be Back""   3:58
12. "Helicopter Chase"   2:27
13. "Tanker Chase"   1:42
14. ""Hasta La Vista, Baby" (T-1000 Freezes)"   3:02
15. "Into the Steel Mill"   1:25
16. "Cameron's Inferno"   2:37
17. "Terminator Impaled"   2:05
18. "Terminator Revives"   2:14
19. "T-1000 Terminated"   1:41
20. ""It's Over" ("Good-bye")"   4:36
Total length:

Songs not included within the soundtrack


Terminator 2 was later followed by two more sequels, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation, as well as an alternate timeline TV series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Legacy and impact


In June 2001, the American Film Institute (AFI) ranked the film #77 as part of the 100 Years... 100 Thrills, a list of films considered the most thrilling contribution to cinema in film history.[45] In 2003, the AFI released the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains, a list of the 100 greatest screen heroes and villains of all time. The Terminator, as portrayed by Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, was ranked #48 on the list of heroes, as well as #22 on the list of villains for its appearance in the first Terminator film. The character was the only entry to appear on both lists, though they are different characters based on the same model. In 2005, Schwarzenegger's famous quote "Hasta la vista, baby" was ranked #76 on the AFI's 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes best film quotes list.

The film placed #33 on Total Film's 2006 list of The Top 100 Films of All Time.[46] In 2008, the film was voted the eighth best science fiction film ever on AFI's 10 Top 10.[47] Empire ranked the film #35 on its list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.[48]

Year Award Recipient Ranking Result Ref.
2001 AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills Terminator 2: Judgment Day #77 Won [45]
2003 AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenneger) #48 Won [49]
2005 AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes "Hasta la vista, baby." #76 Won [50]
2006 Total Film's The Top 100 Films of All Time Terminator 2: Judgment Day #33 Won [46]
2008 AFI's 10 Top 10 (Science Fiction) Terminator 2: Judgment Day #8 Won [47]
Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time Terminator 2: Judgment Day #33 Won [48]

Cultural references

Patrick cameos in character as the T-1000 in Wayne's World (1992) where he forces Wayne Campbell to pull his car over and questions if he has seen John Connor.[51] Patrick also cameos as the T-1000 in the Scwarzenegger-starring Last Action Hero (1993), passing Scwarzenegger as he enters LAPD Headquarters. In the same film — a universe where Schwarzenegger does not exist — Sylvester Stallone replaces Schwarzenegger's in the Terminator 2 poster, having taken the role of the Terminator.[52] In Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993), a caricature of Saddam Hussein is frozen, shattered, and reforms in a direct parody of the T-1000 from the final scene of Terminator 2.[53]


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