Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is the third film in the Terminator franchise. Released in 2003, the film was directed by Jonathan Mostow.
Due to the events shown in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Judgment Day did not occur as originally predicted. Still not believing that it was completely prevented, John Connor is living "off the grid" in Los Angeles, California with no permanent residence, credit cards, or mobile phone and is working freelance so he can't be tracked. Skynet sends another Terminator, the T-X, back to July 24 2004, Judgment Day, to kill the human resistance's future lieutenants, because Connor could not be located through any information databases. The T-X, later dubbed the "Terminatrix", is armed with a full arsenal of advanced weapons from the future, avoiding the restriction of non-living tissue by carrying them internally, including the ability to remotely control most machines. The T-X, like the T-1000, has the ability to shift appearance, however, unlike the T-1000 the T-X merely has a sheath of mimetic polyalloy over its endoskeleton. The T-X has also been designed and programmed to destroy other cybernetic organisms, thus countering the threat of Terminators being reprogrammed by the Resistance.
As before, a reprogrammed Terminator, identical to the Terminators from the previous films, has been sent back in time to protect Connor and his future wife, Katherine 'Kate' Brewster. In a plot twist, this specific Terminator killed John Connor in 2032, before being reprogrammed and sent back in time by Connor's wife. After rescuing them from an initial attack, the Terminator leads them to the grave of Sarah Connor (who died of leukemia 7 years previous) in Victorville. However, they find the coffin filled with weapons(Sarah having been cremated in Mexico) which her friends placed in accordance with Sarah's will as a back-up for John to use in the event that Judgment Day was not prevented. The T-X and the police arrive, and the three narrowly escape in a hearse.
After the destruction of Cyberdyne Systems in T2, the US Air Force has taken over the Skynet project as part of its Cyber Research Systems division, headed by General Robert Brewster, Kate's father. In an attempt to stop the spread of a computer supervirus, they activate Skynet, allowing it to invade all of their systems: too late, they discover the virus is Skynet, which has been exerting its control over the global computer network under the guise of the virus. John, Kate, and the Terminator arrive just a few minutes too late to stop them. The T-X programs the T-1 terminators to kill office personnel and protect Skynet, which has become self-aware. Just before General Brewster dies, he tells them that the Skynet system core is in Crystal Peak, a base built into a mountain a short distance away by plane.
As they board a plane to leave, they are attacked by the Terminator, earlier injected with viral nanomachines by the T-X to control it. To avoid killing Connor, he shuts himself down. When they reach Crystal Peak, they are attacked once again by the T-X. Suddenly, a helicopter comes crashing through the front wall and into the T-X. The Terminator has managed to reboot himself and regain control. The T-X detaches its legs after they are crushed beneath the helicopter, quickly crawling after John and Kate. The Terminator manages to catch hold of the T-X, buying John and Kate enough time to get to safety: the Terminator remarks to John that "We will meet again!". With the pair safe, the Terminator shoves its last remaining hydrogen fuel cell down the T-X's throat with a snide remark of "You are terminated!", destroying both of them in the resulting explosion.
John and Kate discover that the base does not house the Skynet core; it is a fallout shelter for VIPs. General Brewster sent them there to protect them. There is no Skynet core; Skynet is software running on thousands of computers throughout the world making Judgment Day unavoidable. Skynet begins a series of nuclear attacks across the world, commencing Judgment Day and starting the war of man versus machine. Foreshadowing Connor's future leadership role, when the confused military forces and ham radio operators ask for orders, he picks up the radio and takes command, giving orders to the confused survivors.
James Cameron announced T3 many times during the 1990s, but without coming out with any finished script. During his divorce with Linda Hamilton, she asked for the Terminator franchise rights which she promptly sold to Carolco Pictures owners Mario Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna. Tedi Serafian wrote a script, but as it would cost over $300 million, it was rejected. Serafian earned a "story" credit after screenwriters John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris used some of his ideas, like Sarah Connor being dead, and the rival Terminator being female.
The studios had long wanted to make a sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. However, they weren't sure that Arnold Schwarzenegger would appear in it. Schwarzenegger initially refused to star in Terminator 3 because James Cameron, who created the character and directed the first two films, would not be directing the third installment. Schwarzenegger tried to persuade Cameron to produce the third film. Cameron declined, however, and feeling that the Terminator character was as much Schwarzenegger's as it was his own, he advised Schwarzenegger to just do the third film, and ask for "nothing less than $30 million."
The movie's final production budget was $187.3 million, making it the most expensive independently-produced movie in history. Schwarzenegger had to spend $6 million of his own money to help fund the production of the movie. It was a scene that he himself wanted to put in the movie, as he explains in the audio commentary. Schwarzenegger agreed to defer part of his salary in order to prevent the relocation of the set to Vancouver, British Columbia from Los Angeles. Many pundits saw this as preparation to his campaign for California governor, in which he emphasized giving incentives to have movie productions stay in California, rather than film in less-expensive places elsewhere. In that vein, the film was markedly "cleaner" than previous Terminator films, featuring significantly less violence and swearing.
The film takes several ideas from the novel T2: Infiltrator by S. M. Stirling. The novel, published in 2001, features a female terminator, the I-950, a plot point later reused in Terminator Rewired. The idea of Judgment Day being postponed was also used in the book. It also inspires the Sgt. Candy scene with its own explanation of the Terminator's physical appearance, in the form of Austrian counter-terrorist Dieter von Rossbach.
After T3 was released, Cameron would go on record as saying he "never planned on doing a third film, because the story was finished with T2." This conflicts with comments he made during the making of the Universal Studios ride T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, in which he stated that it was a "stepping stone to a third theatrical production." This comment can be seen on "The Making of T2 3D" as an extra on the T2 Ultimate Edition DVD.
Filming began on April 12, 2002.