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Terminator 2: Judgment Day

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Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Cameron
Written by
  • James Cameron
  • William Wisher
Produced byJames Cameron
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Linda Hamilton
  • Robert Patrick
CinematographyAdam Greenberg
Edited by
  • Conrad Buff
  • Mark Goldblatt
  • Richard A. Harris
Music byBrad Fiedel
  • Carolco Pictures
  • Pacific Western Productions
  • Lightstorm Entertainment
  • Le Studio Canal+
Distributed byTri-Star Pictures
Release date
  • July 1, 1991 (1991-07-01) (Los Angeles)
  • July 3, 1991 (1991-07-03) (United States)
Running time
137 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$94–102 million[2][3]
Box office$520.9 million[3]

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (also promoted as T2) is a 1991 American science fiction action film produced and directed by James Cameron, who co-wrote the script with William Wisher. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, and Joe Morton. It is the sequel to the 1984 film The Terminator, and the second installment in the Terminator franchise. It follows Sarah Connor (Hamilton) and her ten-year-old son John (Furlong) as they are pursued by a new, more advanced Terminator: the liquidic metal, shapeshifting T-1000 (Patrick), sent back in time to kill John and prevent him from becoming the leader of the human resistance. A second, less-advanced Terminator (Schwarzenegger) is also sent by the Resistance to protect John.

Talks of a follow-up to The Terminator arose following its release, but its development was stalled because of technical limitations of the vital computer-generated imagery, and legal issues with original producer Hemdale Film Corporation, who controlled half of the franchise rights. In 1990, Carolco Pictures acquired the rights from Hemdale and production immediately began, with Schwarzenegger, Hamilton, and Cameron returning. Principal photography began in October 1990 and lasted until March 1991. Its visual effects saw breakthroughs in computer-generated imagery, including the first use of natural human motion for a computer-generated character and the first partially computer-generated main character.[4] At the time of its release, with a budget of $94–102 million, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the most expensive film ever made.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released in the United States on July 3, 1991 by TriStar Pictures. It was a critical success upon release, with praise for the acting, action scenes, and visual effects. Regarded by many critics as superior to the original and one of the best sequels ever made, the film influenced popular culture, especially the use of visual effects in films.[5] It grossed $520 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1991 and of Schwarzenegger's career. It received several accolades, including Academy Awards for Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Sound, Best Makeup, and Best Visual Effects, and the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form.

Other films followed: two sequels, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003 and Terminator Salvation in 2009; a reboot, Terminator Genisys in 2015; and the Cameron-produced film Terminator: Dark Fate in 2019 which was intended to be an alternate sequel and retcon from Rise of the Machines onward. A sequel television series, Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles, ran from 2008 to 2009. In 2017, Terminator 2 was re-released in 3D 4K resolution for AMC and Cineplex theaters, and internationally, debuting at number one in the United Kingdom on its release weekend.[6]


In 1995, John Connor is living in Los Angeles with his foster parents. His mother, Sarah Connor, had been preparing him throughout his childhood for his future role as the human resistance leader against Skynet, the artificial intelligence that will be given control of the United States' nuclear missiles and initiate a nuclear holocaust on August 29, 1997, known thereafter as "Judgment Day". However, Sarah was arrested and imprisoned at a mental hospital after attempting to bomb a computer factory. In 2029, Skynet sends a new Terminator, the T-1000, back in time to kill John. The T-1000 is an advanced prototype made out of a "mimetic polyalloy", a pliable metal, that enables it to assume the shape and appearance of almost anything it touches, and to transform its arms into blades and other shapes at will. The T-1000 arrives, kills a police officer, and assumes his identity; he also uses the police computer to track down John. Meanwhile, the future John Connor has sent back a reprogrammed Model 101 Terminator to protect his younger self.

The Terminator and the T-1000 converge on John in a shopping mall, and a chase ensues after which John and the Terminator escape together on a motorcycle. Fearing that the T-1000 will kill Sarah in order to get to him, John orders the Terminator to help free her, after discovering that the Terminator must follow his orders. They encounter Sarah as she is escaping from the hospital, although she is initially reluctant to trust the Model 101. After the trio escape from the T-1000 in a police car, the Terminator informs John and Sarah about Skynet's history.[a] Sarah learns that the man most directly responsible for Skynet's creation is Miles Bennett Dyson, a Cyberdyne Systems engineer working on a revolutionary new microprocessor that will form the basis for Skynet.

Sarah gathers weapons from an old friend and plans to flee to Mexico with John, but a nightmare about Judgment Day prompts her to prevent it by instead killing Dyson. Finding him at his home, she wounds him but finds herself unable to kill him in front of his family. John and the Terminator arrive and inform Dyson of the future consequences of his work. They learn that much of his research has been reverse engineered from the damaged CPU and the right arm of the previous Terminator who attacked Sarah back in 1984. Convincing him that these items and his designs must be destroyed, they break into the Cyberdyne building, retrieve the CPU and the arm, and set explosives to destroy Dyson's lab. Though the police shoot and fatally wound Dyson when they storm the lab, he successfully detonates the explosives as he dies. The T-1000 pursues the surviving trio, eventually cornering them in a steel mill.

The T-1000 and Model 101 fight and the more advanced model seriously damages and shuts down the Model 101. However, unbeknownst to the T-1000, the Model 101 brings itself back online using an alternate power source. Sarah's shotgun blasts fail to knock the T-1000 into a vat of molten steel; as it is about to kill John, the Model 101 shoots it with a grenade launcher, knocking it into the steel where it melts. John tosses the arm and CPU of the original Terminator into the vat as well, but the Model 101 explains that its own CPU must also be destroyed in order to ensure that Cyberdyne cannot use it to reverse-engineer Skynet. Acting against John's tearful pleas and orders, the Model 101 says goodbye, has Sarah lower it into the vat because it cannot act to destroy itself, and gives a final thumbs-up before submerging. Sarah drives down a highway at night with John, reflecting on her renewed hope for the future based on the Model 101's actions.


Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2019
Linda Hamilton in 2019
Robert Patrick in 2016
Edward Furlong in 2009
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator: An android, built as a synthetic organism composed of living tissue over a titanium "hyperalloy" endoskeleton, reprogrammed and sent back in time to protect John Connor. Schwarzenegger was reportedly paid $15 million for the role.[7][8] Stuntman Matt McColm served as his body double.[9]
  • Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor: The mother of John, the future leader of the Resistance in the war against Skynet. Hamilton reprised her role from the 1984 film for a salary of $1 million.[10] In preparation for the role, Hamilton underwent an extensive thirteen-week training regimen with personal trainer Anthony Cortes, training for three hours each day, six days a week before filming began. She additionally lost 12 pounds (5.4 kg) on a low-fat diet, conducted throughout the film's six-month shoot. Actor and former Israeli commando Uzi Gal provided her with training for her action scenes.[11] On her work with Gal, Hamilton stated that she undertook "judo and heavy-duty military training" and "learned to load clips, change mags, check out a room upon entry, verify kills."[12] 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.[12]
  • 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. He was discovered by casting director Mali Finn while visiting the Pasadena Boys and Girls Club.[13] He said, "I fell into [acting], it wasn't something that I planned".[14]
  • Robert Patrick as T-1000: An advanced shapeshifting prototype Terminator composed of liquid metal sent back in time to assassinate John. Cameron stated that he "wanted to find someone who would be a good contrast to Arnold. If the 800 series is a kind of human Panzer tank, then the 1000 series had to be a Porsche."[15][16] Billy Idol auditioned for the role but was foiled by a motorcycle accident.[17][18] Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. was considered but deemed too tall.[19]
    • Michael Edwards as Old John Connor
  • Earl Boen as Dr. Silberman: Sarah's psychiatrist, Boen reprises his character from the 1984 film.[b] Dr. Silberman is trying to convince Sarah that the Terminator is not real, but when he witnesses the T-1000 and T-800 he begins to doubt himself.
  • Joe Morton as Miles Dyson: The director of special projects at Cyberdyne, whose research will lead to the formation of Skynet. Dyson has a wife, a son and a daughter.

The cast was rounded out with Jenette Goldstein and Xander Berkeley, who portray John's foster parents, Janelle and Todd Voight.[22][23] S. Epatha Merkerson plays Tarissa Dyson, the wife of Miles Dyson. Cástulo Guerra plays Sarah's friend, Enrique Salceda, who provides her with weapons.[24] Danny Cooksey plays Tim, John's friend.[25] Michael Biehn returned to the series as Kyle Reese, a soldier from 2029, in a short appearance in Sarah's dream. Biehn's scene was not featured in the theatrical release of the film,[26] but it was restored in extended versions of the film. Hamilton's then-twenty-month-old son Dalton plays John in a dream sequence set in a playground.[12] DeVaughn Nixon plays Danny Dyson, the son of Miles and Tarissa Dyson.



Home of the legal guardians of John Connor in Canoga Park

Talk of a potential sequel to The Terminator arose soon after its release, but several outstanding issues precluded such a production. There were technical limitations regarding computer-generated imagery, an aspect of the film essential to the creation of the T-1000 Terminator. The production of James Cameron's 1989 film The Abyss provided the proof of concept needed to satisfactorily resolve the technical concerns.[27] Perhaps more serious were the intellectual property disputes between Hemdale Film Corporation, which owned 50% of the rights to the franchise and stymied efforts to produce a sequel, and Carolco Pictures.[28][29] Knowing of Hemdale's financial problems, Schwarzenegger urged Mario Kassar, head of Carolco, to bid for the rights: "I reminded Mario that this is something that we've been looking for four years, and that it should be him that should go all-out, no matter what it takes to make this deal."[28] Carolco eventually paid Hemdale $5 million for the franchise in 1990, resolving the legal gridlock.[27][28]

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is located in California
Santa Monica
Santa Monica
Long Beach
Long Beach
North Hollywood
North Hollywood
Filming locations of Terminator 2: Judgment Day in California

The end of the legal disputes coincided with the willingness and availability of Cameron, Schwarzenegger, and Hamilton to participate in the sequel; Schwarzenegger, who portrayed the Terminator in the first film, commented: "I always felt we should continue the story of The Terminator, I told Jim that right after we finished the first film."[30] He and Hamilton reprised their roles from the first Terminator film. After an extensive casting search, 13-year-old Edward Furlong was selected from hundreds of candidates to portray John Connor; Robert Patrick was chosen to play the T-1000 Terminator because his slender physique would create a contrast between the advanced T-1000 and Schwarzenegger's older T-800.[27][28] Patrick had previously appeared in the action feature Die Hard 2, but Furlong had no prior acting experience. Joe Morton was picked to portray Miles Dyson, a Cyberdyne scientist whose work would eventually lead to the creation of Skynet.[27]

T2 Productions, staffed by Cameron and co-producers Stephanie Austin and B.J. Rack, rented an office in North Hollywood and assembled the crew. Adam Greenberg, who worked on The Terminator and Ghost (1990), became director of photography, and Joseph Nemec III, who had worked with Cameron on The Abyss, was tasked with production design.[27] The team conducted a national search for a steel mill suitable for the film's climax, and selected a dormant Kaiser Steel mill in Fontana, California, after weeks of negotiations.[27][31][32] Locating the Cyberdyne building was more difficult, as the site was to host numerous stunts, shootouts, and explosions. An industrial park in Fremont, California, was eventually rented for the duration of the film's production.[27] Cameron and William Wisher completed the 140-page screenplay draft on May 10, 1990, and by July 15, the first shooting draft had been distributed to the cast and crew;[27] particulars of the technically detailed scripts were shrouded in secrecy.[28] Both the six-week turnaround for the script and the film's accelerated production schedule were to enable a 1991 Fourth of July release.[27]


Intersection of two streets under which is a flood-control channel
Intersection of Plummer St and Hayvenhurst Ave in San Fernando Valley, the site of the truck falling into the flood-control channel underneath

Principal photography of Terminator 2 spanned 171 days between October 9, 1990, and March 28, 1991,[33][34] during which the crew filmed at the Mojave Desert before visiting 20 different sites throughout California and New Mexico.[27][35][36] Locations include these: the crowded Santa Monica Place shopping mall, where the two Terminators converged on John, with brief shots coming from the Westfield MainPlace and Los Cerritos Center; flood control channels in the San Fernando Valley, which hosted the chase between the Terminators and John; a river had to be redirected to allow filming on the otherwise wet channels;[27][37][38] and Lake View Terrace featuring The Corral Bar and the Lake View Medical Center, called Pescadero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in the film.[36][39] 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.[36] Working with up to 1,000 crew members,[40] the production team oversaw numerous stunts and chase sequences, the most notable of which took place on the Los Angeles–Long Beach Terminal Island Freeway, prior to the film's climax. Ten miles (16 km) of electric cables were laid to illuminate the night-time chase, which include a full-scale helicopter crash, a sliding tanker, and other elaborate paraphernalia.[27][41]

Hamilton's twin sister, Leslie Hamilton Gearren, was used in some shots that required two persons looking like Sarah, including a scene where Sarah and John perform repairs on the Terminator's head (deleted from the theatrical release, but restored on the extended edition), and in some of the shots where the T-1000 impersonates Sarah.[12] Gearren plays whichever version of Sarah is farthest from the camera, alternating between the real Sarah and the T-1000. Linda Hamilton's son, Dalton Abbott, appear as the toddler John Connor in Sarah's nuclear nightmare. Another set of twins, Don and Dan Stanton, were used to depict a scene where the T-1000 mimics a guard at the asylum.[42]

An unprecedented budget of $102 million[43] (1991 dollars)—3.5 times the cost of the average film and approximately 15 times the $6.4 million budget of The Terminator[2][44]—was reserved for Terminator 2, making it the most expensive film to date. A significant proportion of this was for actor and film-crew salaries. Schwarzenegger was given an $11–12 million Gulfstream III business jet, and $5–6 million was allocated towards James Cameron's salary.[2][45] The production itself, which included special effects and stunts, totaled $51 million.[2] Although the film was commonly described by the media as the most expensive film ever made to date, if adjusted for inflation, Cleopatra (1963), would have cost $219 million in 1995 dollars.[46] The expensive film had nearly recovered its budget prior to its release. Worldwide rights were sold for $65 million, video rights for $10 million, and television rights for $7 million.[44]


The visual effects used for the T-1000 were highly advanced for the time, combining state-of-the-art CGI, prosthetics, and editing to allow the T-1000 to demonstrate its shapeshifting ability. (0:20)

Terminator 2 makes extensive use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) to vivify the T-1000. The use of such technology was the most ambitious since the 1982 and 1984 science fiction films Tron and The Last Starfighter respectively,[47] and would be integral to the critical success of the film. CGI was required particularly for the T-1000, a "mimetic poly-alloy" structure, since the shapeshifting character can transform into almost anything it touches.[27][48] Most of the key Terminator effects were provided by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) for computer graphics, Pacific Data Images (PDI) for optical effects and Stan Winston for practical effects.[49] Creation of the visual effects cost $5 million and took 35 people, including animators, computer scientists, technicians, and artists, ten months to produce, for a total of 25 man-years.[27][47] This lengthy process yielded a total of only five minutes of CGI runtime.[47] Stan Winston's studio produced articulated puppets, prosthetic effects, and the metal skeleton effects of the T-800.[50] ILM's Visual Effects Supervisor, Dennis Muren, remarked, "We still have not lost the spirit of amazement when we see ... [the visual effects on the T-1000] coming up."[51] The technical achievements in CGI won the visual effects team the 1992 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.[52]

For Sarah's nuclear nightmare scene, Robert and Dennis Skotak of 4-Ward Production constructed a cityscape of Los Angeles using large-scale miniature buildings and realistic roads and vehicles. The pair, having studied actual footage of nuclear tests, simulated the nuclear blast with air mortars to knock over the intricate cityscape.[27][53]



The score by Brad Fiedel was commercially released as the Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack). It spent six weeks on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 70.[54] Its 2010 reissue by Silva Screen Records has a collectible booklet. In the DVD commentary, Fiedel mentions that the recurring metallic sound in the main title was produced by hitting a cast-iron frying pan with a hammer.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
1."Main Title (Terminator 2 Theme)"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 Attacks"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:53:01

Outside songs:



The worldwide premiere of Terminator 2 was at the Cineplex Odeon Century Plaza Cinemas in Century City, Los Angeles, on July 1, 1991, attended by VIPs including Nicolas Cage,[55] Christian Slater,[56] Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his wife Maria Shriver.[57] Following its domestic release on July 3, the film was progressively distributed to cinemas in Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Spain, and at least ten other countries by the end of the year.[58]


Box office[]

Opening in 2,274 theaters in the United States and Canada, Terminator 2 earned a then record $52 million during its Fourth of July five-day opening weekend.[59] Its opening day had a record gross for a Wednesday opener with $11.66 million,[60] and $31 million was grossed in the traditional three day weekend of Friday to Sunday, the second-biggest opening weekend of all time after Batman's $42 million opening in 1989.[61] The opening weekend set a UK record in July, with a gross of £2,337,980 (US$4.4 million) from 303 screens and the one-week record of £4,631,895 beat Silence of the Lambs.[62][63][64] Its opening weekend in Australia set a record in September from 108 screens but its opening week gross of US$2.6 million ($A3.3 million) did not surpass the record of $A3.9 million set by Crocodile Dundee II in 1988.[65] In October, its opening weekend in France grossed a record $9.5 million (54.15 million Francs), beating the 1986 record of Rocky IV.[66] Its opening week in Germany grossed $8.1 million from 474 screens in October 1991, and it was number one in Tokyo for four months.[67][68]

Terminator 2 was a box-office success, earning $205.8 million in the United States and Canada alone, and $520 million worldwide. Its domestic total is 3.9 times its opening weekend; adjusted for inflation, its release is the tenth-highest grossing of all time for an R-rated film. Globally, it is the highest-grossing film of 1991, beating Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. As of its release, it is the third-biggest global gross behind Star Wars and E.T.: the Extra Terrestrial. It is the highest-grossing TriStar Pictures film to date.[3][69][70] The Terminator grossed $38 million in the U.S. in its theatrical run,[71] and Terminator 2 achieved a 434 percent increase in box office revenue. An estimated 48,656,400 tickets were sold in North America.[72]

Critical response[]

The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes – established on the Web in 1998 – retroactively reports that the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 82 reviews, with an average score of 8.50/10. The website's critical consensus 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."[73] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100 based on reviews from 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[74] CinemaScore reported that audiences had given the film a rare average grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale.[75]


The Montreal Film Journal called it "one of the best crafted Hollywood action flicks".[76] Syd Field lauded the plot, writing: "every scene sets up the next, like links in a chain of dramatic action."[77] Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, and wrote: "Schwarzenegger's genius as a movie star is to find roles that build on, rather than undermine, his physical and vocal characteristics."[78] Hal Hinson, reviewer for The Washington Post, was also positive: "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."[48] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune was enthusiastic about the film, giving it 3 1/2 stars: "thanks to some truly spectacular and at times mystifying special effects – as well as some surprisingly solid acting – this is one terrific action picture, more enjoyable than the original".[79]

Writing for Time, 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."[80]


In 1997, Halliwell's Film Guide rated the film as an improvement on its predecessor, giving it two stars out of four and describing it as a "thunderous, high-voltage action movie with dazzling special effects that provide a distraction from the often silly narrative".[81] In 2009, Leonard Maltin gave the film two and half stars from four, acknowledging it had "special effects to knock your socks off (especially the 'liquid metal') and action to spare", but stating, "like so many sequels, [it] lacks the freshness of the first film and gives us no one to root for."[82] For the Chicago Sun-Times in 2017, Richard Roeper gave the film a full four stars and wrote, "Even though this movie was made nearly 30 years ago, almost nothing about it feels dated."[83] In 2017 in The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw awarded it four stars out of five, describing it as "a really exciting, well-made sci-fi picture, but I can't help feeling that this is one of the least needed sequels and franchises in movie history. The first Terminator was such a classic, its ending so disturbing, so magnificent, so nightmarish and definitive."[84] He also said that it was "in my view lacking the steely clarity and force of the original", while acknowledging that it was "dynamically filmed".[85]


Year Award Category Recipient Result Reference
1991 British Academy Film Awards Best Production Design Joseph Nemec III Nominated [86]
Best Sound Lee Orloff, Tom Johnson, Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers Won
Best Special Visual Effects Stan Winston, Dennis Muren, Gene Warren Jr, Robert Skotak Won
Saturn Award Best Actress Linda Hamilton Won [87]
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 Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Robert Patrick Nominated
Best Writing James Cameron, William Wisher, Jr. Nominated
A.S.C. Awards Best Cinematography Adam Greenberg Nominated
1992 18th People's Choice Awards Favorite Motion Picture Terminator 2: Judgment Day Won [88]
64th Academy Awards Best Cinematography Adam Greenberg Nominated [52]
Best Film Editing Conrad Buff, Mark Goldblatt and Richard A. Harris Nominated
Best Makeup Stan Winston and Jeff Dawn Won
Best Sound Tom Johnson, Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers and Lee Orloff Won
Best Sound Effects Editing Gary Rydstrom and Gloria S. Borders Won
Best Visual Effects Dennis Muren, Stan Winston, Gene Warren Jr. and Robert Skotak Won
1992 MTV Movie Awards Best Action Sequence "L.A. Freeway Scene" Won [89]
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 [90]
Eddie Award Best Editing Conrad Buff IV, Mark Goldblatt, Richard A. Harris Nominated
Japanese Academy Awards Outstanding Foreign Language Film Ryuu Masayuki Nominated


3D conversion[]

On August 29, 2016 (a reference to August 29, 1997, the date on which Skynet becomes self-aware in the films), it was announced that the film would be digitally remastered in 3D to commemorate its 25th anniversary, with a worldwide re-release planned for mid 2017. The version to be remastered and rereleased in 3D is the original 137 minute theatrical cut, as the extended edition is not James Cameron's preferred version. Multiple camera shots from the opening chase sequence were digitally altered to fix a minor continuity error which had troubled Cameron since the 1991 release.[91][92] DMG Entertainment and StudioCanal worked together with Cameron to convert the film using the StereoD technology.[91] The 3D version premiered on February 17, 2017, at the Berlin International Film Festival, with the theatrical re-release being scheduled for August 25, 2017.[93][94] Similar to Cameron's Titanic 3D, Lightstorm Entertainment oversaw the work on the 3D version of Terminator 2, which took around 1,800 artists about eight months to finish.[95] The restoration was released by Distrib Films US, a company which typically distributes foreign films. The studio released the film exclusively for one week in AMC Theatres nationwide, and said that it will expand depending on the film's performances in its first week.[96]

The 3D version opened Friday, August 25, 2017, across 371 theaters (or 463 3D auditoriums), earning $552,773 in its opening weekend, averaging $1,490 per screen;[97] this was considered an amount lower than what other 1980s and 1990s re-releases earned in their respective opening weekends such as Top Gun ($1.9 million, which also played in IMAX), Raiders of the Lost Ark ($1.6 million), as well as more high-profile reissues of Titanic, The Lion King, and Jurassic Park across the last several years. During its opening weekend, Titanic 3D grossed $17.3 million in 2,674 theaters, averaging $6,464 in April 2012.[98][99] Though not major contributing factors, the release performance of the film is thought to have suffered from coinciding with Hurricane Harvey, which reduced moviegoing admissions in many parts of the country, the much anticipated boxing fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor, and the season 7 finale of Game of Thrones.[100][101][102]

Home media[]

The 137-minute theatrical cut of the movie was first released on VHS in the United States in December 11, 1991. It beat the record set by Dances With Wolves with 714,000 copies sold to rental stores.[103]

On November 24, 1993, Terminator 2: Judgment Day – Special Edition was released on THX-certified Laserdisc and on VHS, with 15 minutes of previously unseen footage including a dream sequence of Michael Biehn reprising his role as Kyle Reese[104] and some exclusive to the Laserdisc. The first DVD release on October 22, 1997 has the theatrical version. The foreign releases from 1992 to 1999, are on DVD and VHS by Columbia TriStar Home Video.

An Ultimate Edition DVD was released in 2000 by Artisan Entertainment, initially as a single, double-sided disc. It contains both the theatrical and special editions, plus many extras from the Laserdisc.

The Extreme Edition DVD was released on June 3, 2003, and has several DVD-ROM features, including an "Infiltration Unit Simulator" and the "T2 FX Studio", an application where images of a person can be imported and transformed into a T-800 or T-1000, and the "Skynet Combat Chassis Designer", a program where viewers could build a fighting machine and be able to track progress online.[105] The Extreme DVD contains a WMV-HD theatrical edition, in Full HD 1080p for the first time.

In 2006, Lionsgate released a Blu-ray of the film with a slightly washed-out 1080p transfer, no special features, and with a DTS 5.1 audio track from the DVDs instead of a lossless audio track. On May 19, 2009, Lionsgate released the Skynet Edition on Blu-ray, with an enhanced video transfer, THX certified DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 audio, and a Dolby 5.1 Digital EX Audio track.[106] The Skynet edition has three versions: The Theatrical Version (original 1991 release at 137 minutes), Special Edition (1993 release with 16 minutes of additional scenes at 154 minutes runtime) and Extended Special Edition (156 minutes). This Extended Special Edition can be accessed with the code "82997", a reference to the date of Judgment day, August 29, 1997.[107] It includes a THX Optimizer and a limited collector's edition encased in an Endoskull, including the 2009 Blu-ray, the Extreme Edition and Ultimate Edition DVDs, a digital copy of the film.[108]

In July 2017, two new Blu-ray releases were announced. First, a 4K remaster, and later a Blu-ray 3D release of the 3D conversion due in August 2017. These include new extras, including trailers, making-of documentaries, and "Seamless Branching of the Theatrical cut, Director's Cut, and Special extended edition". The Director's Cut version has a runtime of 154 minutes. An "Endo-arm Special Edition" bundle was announced, including both the 3D and 4K versions, and a CD audio soundtrack.[109]

Extended Edition[]

In 2015, the Extended Edition was released as part of the Terminator Quadrilogy box set containing the first four Terminator films. However, it contains no special features. The Ultimate Edition DVD and Skynet Edition Blu-ray releases also include this extended version as an easter egg.[110]

Alongside other numerous re-added deleted scenes, the Extended Edition has an alternate ending, which shows an elderly Sarah Connor watching an adult John, who is a U.S. Senator, playing with his daughter in a Washington playground in the year 2029, narrating that Judgment Day never happened.[111]


In June 2001, the American Film Institute (AFI) ranked Terminator 2 at number 77 on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills, a list of films considered to be the most thrilling in film history.[112][113] 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 at number 48 on the list of heroes, as well as at number 22 on the list of villains for its appearance in the first Terminator film.[114] 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 at number 76 on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes best film quotes list.[115][116]

The film was placed at number 33 on Total Film's 2006 list of The Top 100 Films of All Time.[117] Empire ranked the film number 35 on its list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.[118] In 2008, the film was voted the eighth-best science fiction film ever on AFI's 10 Top 10.[119] IGN named it the tenth-greatest science fiction film of all time, saying that it was "one example of a sequel coming along and just destroying the original in every regard".[120] Empire ranked Terminator 2: Judgment Day as the third-best film sequel of all time.[121] In 2012, Total Film placed the film at eighth place on its list of "50 Sequels That Were Better Than The Original".[122] In 2016, Playboy ranked the film number one on its list of 15 Sequels That Are Way Better Than The Originals.[123] Richard Roeper named Judgment Day the third-best film sequel ever made, stating that it "surpasses the original in every level".[124] In 2019, Huw Fullerton of Radio Times ranked it the best film of the six in the franchise, stating that it "ramped up the stakes and the spectacle to deliver one of the greatest sci-fi/action adventures ever made. From Hamilton's newly beefed-up Sarah Connor and Edward Furlong's streetwise John to Schwarzenegger's more complex T-800, this was Terminator in its prime, more mainstream and fun than the original and with a huge mechanical heart thrown into the bargain."[125] In 2021, Dalin Rowell of /Film ranked it the second best film of Cameron's career behind Aliens, stating "Not only does it elevate its predecessor narratively, but it also raises the stakes in terms of action, suspense, and the filmmaking techniques on display. Even better, it does so while enriching the original film's characters, cementing their status as Hollywood fixtures for decades to come."[126]


Terminator 2 in 3D sign in front of the entrance to the Universal Studies in Florida
The entrance to the T2-3D: Battle Across Time attraction at Universal Studios Florida

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 Terminator 2 – Judgment Day: Cybernetic Dawn and Terminator 2 – Judgment Day: Nuclear Twilight by Malibu Comics, T2: Infiltrator by IDW Comics, T2: Rising Storm and T2: Future War by S.M. Stirling, and The John Connor Chronicles by Russell Blackford.

In 1996, Cameron directed an attraction at Universal Studios Theme Parks, titled T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, which returns Schwarzenegger, Hamilton, Patrick, and Furlong to their respective roles. Costing $60 million to produce, with a running time of only 12 minutes, it became the most expensive venture per minute in the history of film.[131] The attraction opened in the Universal Studios Florida in mid-1996, with additional venues opening in the Universal Studios Hollywood in May 1999, and the Universal Studios Japan in March 2001.[132]

A line of trading cards was released. A novelization was written by Randall Frakes and published by Sphere.

Various video games based on the film were released. An arcade version was released in 1991 by Midway Manufacturing Company, and was ported to numerous game consoles. A computer game, published by Ocean Software, was released in 1991. Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released for Game Boy in 1991, and for SNES and Sega Genesis/Mega Drive in 1993. An 8-bit version was released for Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Gear, and Master System. A themed pinball machine was released in July 1991 by Williams Electronics.

In pop culture[]

Robert Patrick makes a cameo appearance in Wayne's World (1992) as the T-1000 character where he pulls Wayne's car over, holds up a photo of John Connor and asks, "Have you seen this boy?", to which Wayne screams in panic and drives away.[133] Patrick makes a cameo appearance as the T-1000 in Last Action Hero (1993), when he is seen walking by Schwarzenegger as he enters Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. In the same film, actor Sylvester Stallone is featured as the Terminator on a Terminator 2 poster instead of Schwarzenegger.[134] In Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993), a caricature of Saddam Hussein is frozen, shattered, and reformed in a direct parody of the T-1000.[135]

The opening credits show four burning horses of a carousel as the allegory of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.[136]

The film is referenced in a variety of animated series and films, such as The Simpsons,[137] Family Guy, American Dad!, and The Lego Movie.[138][139][140]


Terminator 2: Judgment Day was followed by Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009), Terminator Genisys (2015), and Terminator: Dark Fate (2019), the first three to commercial success. The first three were made without Cameron; Schwarzenegger returned for Terminator 3 and Terminator Genisys, with a digital cameo in Terminator Salvation. Though Terminator Genisys was intended to start a new rebooted trilogy and was profitable, it had negative reviews.

The sixth film, Terminator: Dark Fate, is an alternate sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, in a timeline alternate to Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and was meant to be the start of another trilogy. It was released on November 1, 2019, with Cameron (this time as producer), Schwarzenegger, and Hamilton returning. The film introduced a new all-female cast to replace John Connor, who was controversially killed off in the film's opening scene, and though it had the same mixed to positive critical response as Terminator 3, it was panned by audiences and was a box office failure.[141] Plans for the sequels were subsequently canceled.


  1. ^ In The Terminator, Sarah was informed by Kyle Reese that Skynet would become self-aware and initiate a nuclear war. In Terminator 2, August 29, 1997 is mentioned by Sarah to Dr. Silberman (Boen) as Judgment Day, indicating that Kyle originally disclosed this information to her offscreen. During its conversation with Sarah and John, the Model 101 elaborates, saying "In three years, Cyberdyne will become the largest supplier of military computer systems ... The system goes online on August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defence. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware 2:14 AM, Eastern time, August 29th."
  2. ^ The character of Dr. Silberman is described in The Terminator as a psychologist.[20] In the sequels Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the character is retconned as a psychiatrist.[21]


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Further reading[]

External links[]

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