Arnold Schwarzenegger Reveals His Reaction To Last Action Hero's Failure After T2's Success
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Arnold Schwarzenegger Reveals His Reaction To Last Action Hero's Failure After T2's Success

Jan 26, 2024

Netflix's Arnold reveals Schwarzenegger felt he peaked with Terminator 2's success and his heartbroken reaction to Last Action Hero's failure.

Netflix's Arnold sees the screen legend open up about his heartbroken response to Last Action Hero's failure. The second episode of Arnold focuses on Schwarzenegger's action movie career, where he scored back-to-back hits with movies like The Terminator, Commando, Predator and many more. The documentary series also sees his former rival turned friend Sylvester Stallone open up about how bitter their box-office feud used to be, and how they always sought to outdo each other in terms of physique, explosions or bodycounts.

Stallone also admits Arnold won their box-office battle. Arnold explores the lows of Schwarzenegger's life and career too, including a notable turning point in his movie stardom. Last Action Hero was his follow-up to Terminator 2: Judgment Day and was naturally hyped to become a major blockbuster. However, the film had the misfortune to open next to Jurassic Park, which demolished it financially. Last Action Hero also received broadly negative reviews at the time, and while it has attracted a cult following, it's one of the biggest disappointments of his career.

Related: Why Arnold Schwarzenegger Originally Disliked T2's Good Terminator Twist

Netflix's Arnold reveals that the actor wasn't sold on Terminator 2's concept, and was upset that the titular machine didn't kill anybody. He did, however, get on board when James Cameron allowed the titular machine to shoot people in the leg instead. Terminator 2 was a gigantic hit in 1991, grossing over $500 million worldwide. The movie is arguably Arnie's defining role and contains some of the most iconic sequences and one-liners of his career.

Given its outsized success, it would be difficult - approaching impossible - for any of his follow-up projects to even approach Judgment Day's numbers. Schwarzenegger states in Arnold that he knew this when approaching Last Action Hero, and felt his career had somewhat "peaked" with Terminator 2. He says the sequel's success also had his critics and rivals gunning for him, so when news of Last Action Hero's troubled production hit the press, the knives were out for the blockbuster.

Last Action Hero cast Arnie as both himself and action movie hero Jack Slater, with the film being an ahead of its time meta-commentary on the genre. There's fun to be had with Last Action Hero, but for a film directed by Die Hard's John McTiernan, co-written by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) and a cast that includes Charles Dance and Ian McKellen, there's a definite sense the movie should be much better than it is.

Last Action Hero's budget was an estimated $85 million, but opening so close to Jurassic Park and poor word of mouth combined to seriously dent its chances upon release in 1993. The movie wound up grossing less than $140 million, making it a financial bomb for the studio. In Arnold, James Cameron even recounts calling Schwarzenegger the weekend Last Action Hero opened to ask how it was doing, and the star responded with a dejected "Terrible." He also told Cameron he wasn't going to see anybody for a week in the aftermath of the movie bombing.

Schwarzenegger calls the failure of Last Action Hero "embarrassing," and he was left hurt by the response to the film. It should be noted that at this point in his career, where even his comedies like Twins were huge hits, the star was largely unaccustomed to his films failing. In the years since, Arnie has called Last Action Hero his most underrated movie, and has claimed it has since gone into profit.

Arnold's prediction that his movie star career had "peaked" with Terminator 2 proved to be accurate. While many of his later movies like True Lies, Eraser and even Batman And Robin made money, his solo outings never came close to T2. In terms of numbers, later Terminator movies like Rise Of The Machines and Genisys are the only ones that come close, though the failure of 2019's Dark Fate suggests it's time for Arnie to move on from that particular franchise. It speaks to the quality of Terminator 2 that over three decades after its initial release, it's still one of the best blockbusters of all time.

If Arnold's career had to peak with a movie, there's no shame in it being Terminator 2. The actor appears to be on something of a comeback trail currently, fronting both FUBAR and the Arnold series. While it seems Twins sequel Triplets is no longer happening, he is set to lead an action movie called Breakout, where his character leads a jailbreak to get his son out of a foreign prison. There's occasionally talk of a return to Conan or Predator, but a Last Action Hero sequel feels very unlikely; but of course, stranger things have happened in the movie business.